Opinion, Rod Hannifey

Transport heading in right direction

OPINION: Optimism followed two major road transport-related gatherings held in February.

The National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) conference, held on February 11 in Wagga Wagga, went well. The rollover and recovery demo in the morning was a very different way to start off with a good crowd in attendance. Well done to all involved. Then we moved inside and changed the world? Well, we would like to be able to say that, but we certainly will try.

We had two attendees who said they will not be back because we are still trying to fix the things we wanted done 20 years ago. I agree, we are still trying, but not always and immediately succeeding. However, I did say that if none of us were in that room, then who would see and/or even try to accomplish any change, let alone have a chance to succeed?

Those two were the only naysayers. All others said they enjoyed it. We had a good number of attendees, excellent turn up from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, National Transport Commission, local and state pollies, plus good speakers and topics. There was also rollicking if small entertaining auction. Thank you to those who contributed, including local Inland Truck Centres, wider-based Findlay International, and NXT Journey. Others put in goods for the auction, plus thanks to supporters Icepack, National Transport Insurance and many others. Thank you to all who bid and bought items from tyres to audiobooks, gift packs and bags, including one from Kenworth.

Then of course thanks to the NRFA board and the ‘C&C’ team who went way above and delivered a well-run event. Thanks to all who helped set it up, made it run and contributed in any way.

Rest areas

The other event in February was the first meeting of the Heavy Vehicle Rest Area (HVRA) Steering Committee in Canberra with all 10 members attending. We had the Infrastructure and Transport assistant minister in for the start and members from other government bodies taking notes. Now for those who think we will have the rest area problems sorted by tomorrow, or next week, or even next year, Santa will be delivering presents down your chimney next Christmas! Will we see improvement, will we see change, will we see more done? The answer to all these and other questions are I hope, ‘yes’, but …

The committee is a government body and must abide by the rules and laws under which it was put forward. Am I happy with some restrictions? No, but I have and will keep arguing for wider scope. If we as the committee can’t fix some things, then I will keep trying and asking who can. This is the first time truckies have had a say, it is a great step forward and if it is just the start of us being at more tables and events that affect our lives on the road, then that may be even more valuable.

RELATED ARTICLE: Baby steps for rest area intiative 

We will ratify later this month the agreed guidelines for applications for funding, once those are in place we will be seeking government bodies to apply, truckies to put forward and push for sites to be considered and then the committee will, within the guideline under which we must operate, rate and then recommend each application. The maximum will be $5 million, so no ‘Taj Mahals’, but there will be joint funding whether city or rural based and up to $80 million for the first three years.

Will this fix it all next year? No, but it is a start and I honestly believe all the members, including the chair Glen Sterle, will be pushing for more to be done and if we can’t do it, seeing who can.

To all who applied, don’t just walk away or bag those who did get a guernsey. Get onto your local council or one where you want a new or improved rest area and push hard. There may be a car-only rest area that could use some funding to expand and cater for truckies, there could be a stockpile site with good shade that only needs a tidy up on the entry and exit at a cost a $1000 which would make another good site.

You can email me with suggestions which started well before I was even selected for the committee. I can help you push the right buttons elsewhere because I don’t know or travel every road.

I travelled a few different roads recently and made notes. I will try and get them into the NSW request for rest area comments to follow on the five pages I wrote to them. I am really looking forward to their reply.

So, if you travel through NSW, have you put in your 20 cents worth to the NSW request for where you want rest areas? Will you respond and contribute if the HVRA committee asks?

I recently travelled from Brisbane to Bourke. From Collarenebri to Brewarrina there was not one spot to stop, let alone a rest area (but there was one site where it looked like a truck had run off the road). Then from Brewarrina to Bourke the one marked site was nearly full of blue metal for road resurfacing. So where do you stop? I had not been on this road for years, so didn’t know of the lack of sites, but now hope to still get in for the NSW one which had the submission date extended. We will see.  

*ROD HANNIFEY, a transport safety advocate, has been involved in raising the profile of the industry, conducting highway truck audits, the Blue Reflector Trial for informal parking bays on the Newell, the ‘Truckies on Road Code’, the national 1800 number for road repairs proposal, and the Better Roadside Rest Areas Group. Rod is the current president of the NRFA. Contact Rod on 0428 120 560, e-mail
rod.hannifey@bigpond.com or visit

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