Transcript - Forbes Load Restraint Presser

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I make no apologies for being late, but I tell you why I make no apologies because we were held up by the federally funded safety upgrades to the Newell Highway.

That is the truth. Because what they were doing is they were putting those audio-tactile rumble strips on the side of the road and they’re important, particularly for truckdrivers. They are important, particularly for all road users and I know my friendly police officers here would agree, and having a son in the police who, from time to time, goes out and does traffic management, you know, we need to at all times make sure that road safety is first and foremost – is paramount. And not every driver – and we saw some bad examples of it today with drivers just being impatient, trying to overtake when it was not safe to do so. And those rumble strips, the strengthening and widening of the shoulders, the separations in the centre of the road where we’re doing it as part of that $2 billion nation-wide program is fantastic. And if it means me being five minutes late, then I’ll take it. But I say to Phyllis, thank you for the introduction.

I acknowledge Phyllis Miller. She’s a great mayor. Ken Keith, John Metcalfe, the Shires – the thing I like about Lachlan, Forbes and Parkes Shires is that from my point of view, from where I sit in as the local member, they seem to get along. You actually don’t – I see some of my councils playing that argy-bargy between themselves and within each other, but these councils, in the central western part of my electorate – Lachlan is actually not in my electorate, but I love it just the same – they all seem to get along and that is fantastic. Because it’s not always possible and to think that through you, as a road safety person, that they’re doing these sorts of programs.

This is, as I understand it, only a $60,500 program, but when you are making sure that we’re getting those road safety messages out there, load restraints for farmers as part of a program – as part of an overall almost $6 million program across the country, then it makes a big difference. Now, I know New South Wales farmers are involved. I know the police are involved. I know there are so many people involved. And we’re on Ian Smith’s farm and if Ian’s here, put your hand up, because I haven’t met you and I don’t think – does Ian know we’re actually coming?

I’ve asked now about five times, “Where’s Ian Smith?”, but no one can tell me, but anyway. We’ll thank Ian Smith and we’ll thank him for – he’ll drive around the corner in a minute and wonder why we’re all here!

I’m a farmer’s son and I’m the first of my family line, particularly as the eldest son, not to go on the farm. And as my great-aunt said on her deathbed, she said to me, “You’re the family failure.” She did.

And at the time I was running a newspaper, I had 58 journos in my newsrooms, I had a $10 million budget and she called me the family failure. Now I’m the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. I’ve got a $110 billion, you know, portfolio that I’m rolling out. She’d probably think even worse of me – I’m a politician! I went to dad and he was actually – I can well remember at the time and I went and I said, “Dad, Aunty Nelly just called me the family failure.” And he was actually doing a load of hay, getting it ready at the time and he sort of didn’t even glance down, he just said – he was on the back of the truck and he said, “Yeah, well, I didn’t think much of Aunty Nelly. After all she’s your mother’s side, but now and then she did speak some truth.”

That said, the one thing that dad used to get so annoyed about was the lack of information around loads and dad always said it was just dead money if you got pulled up by the RMS – it wasn’t called that then; it was RTA – or by our friendly officers in blue, for overloading. Sometimes it was difficult because you’d load up a truck of hay. It would rain on that hay. You’d get to the next point. You’d be just slightly over. And load restraints, making sure the load is on properly, making sure it weighs under the limit are just so important. So, to get an education campaign out there is so important, not just for the truck drivers because they want to get from point A to B. They want to put their load to where it needs to go and they want to do it as safely as they can, but for other road users as well, it is so important. So, to have New South Wales farmers, police, Roads and Maritime Services, but perhaps most importantly, our three shire councils, on board with this program is so important.

And I appreciate it is only a $60,000 investment, but if this investment saves a farmer, a hardworking truckie from getting a fine, if this saves a road user from potentially getting into harm’s way because there is a truck which is overloaded, if that just saves those provisions, then it’s been an investment well made. This actual NHVR rollout of funding, as I say, it’s $5.9 million, it’s ongoing. Like all our programs, as part of our $110 billion infrastructure upgrade in my portfolio, they are all ongoing. So, what I say to people is: if these campaigns are successful or for those proponents who want more funding, but don’t quite get the amount of money they were after in the first place, apply again, because it’s an ongoing program. It’s well worthwhile. It’s going to save a lot of hassle, potentially fines and it’s going to make our roads safer and, at the end of the day, that’s what we’re about. That’s what everybody should be about – making sure that people get to where they need to be sooner and safer.

I commend the program. I commend everybody involved in the program. Well done to you all. Thank you very much.

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