Senators accept activist’s invitation to visit Gatton truck site

Labor Senators Glenn Sterle, far left, and Carol Brown are joined by NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto and Wes Walker at the Gatton pads. Photo: James Graham

Truckers’ lawyer Wes Walker has his fingers crossed that part of the $80million Labor has pledged to build more rest areas for truckers will be used to install toilets at Gatton Blocks .

Walker’s hopes were buoyed by Labor senators Glenn Sterle and Carol Brown, the new deputy road transport minister, accepting his invitation to visit the busy decoupling site on the Warrego highway.

Sterle and Brown were joined by NHVR CEO Sal Pettrocitto as they attended the National Road Freighters Association conference in nearby Toowoomba this weekend.

Walker, 58, a disabled pensioner, is not a trucker himself, but has friends who tirelessly fight and fight for their rights, and the hundreds of other drivers who are caught out every week so that they haul the freight that keeps Queensland shelves stocked. .

The trio of dignitaries could see firsthand that the supposed biosecurity risk toilets would lay the adjoining fields with little stock, with food wrappers, rubbish, toilet paper and clothing strewn around the edge of the grass.

Meanwhile, 7km up the road along the Warrego Highway, the heavy vehicle rest area which had three times as many bins, plush new restrooms, outdoor tables and sun shelters, was empty when Big Rigs has stopped.

“It’s a bloody disgrace,” said Sterle. “I can’t believe that in our day and age we can build a road train assembly area, an hour and a half from Brisbane, and think our drivers are going to come and hook up, assemble everything, and then don’t do not have access to toilets or showers.

“Same thing on the way back. It’s 2022. We need suitable road train assembly areas.

“The other thing that raised my eyebrows is that there are no massive truck stops east or west of this facility.

“But who the hell wants to stop at a road train turnout, put it all together without a shower and have to stop again. You don’t want to stop anymore; truckers are about fatigue management.

Sterle said the decoupling facility is a classic example of one designed by someone who has “no idea” what it should be and hasn’t adequately consulted with industry.

“To think you can lay x amount of thousands of square meters of bitumen, put some lights in there and think you’ve done a good job.

“I would love to see the bureaucrats who designed it put a light on their head and walk around their garden in the middle of the night with a roll of toilet paper under their arm and do what they had to do before they left. . work.”

Sterle said the final decision on whether part of the $80 million set aside in Labor’s first budget in government will be used for toilets would be left to the truckers’ committee that Labor is responsible for overseeing the expenses.

But he said Transport Minister Mark Bailey and the Queensland Government also needed to “step up the plate there”.

“I would really like to sit down with Mark and say ‘come on mate, $18 million for an installation, that’s fantastic, but there’s no reason why we can’t come up with something [to build more facilities].’”

The Ministry of Transport and Main Roads, however, still stuck to their guns on the matter when approached by Big Rigs for an explanation.

“The decision to omit the toilets from the facility was due to the University of Queensland’s objection to the biosecurity risk of human waste or waste being left on site, which could impact their sanitation programs. agricultural research,” a TMR spokesperson said, adding that no toilets will be installed on the site in the future.

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