Fire fighting: red tape comes first


Photo: Fire fighting crew burning a firebreak along a drain at the eastern edge of town on Sunday – their outstanding efforts should not be undermined by red tape in other quarters.
Government red tape continues merrily as bushfires are encircling the town.
A grader operator from Central Plant Hire was making his way up the Stuart Highway last week to cut fire breaks near the Holcim quarry, about 10 km north of town.
The massive blaze was moving towards buildings and machinery there.
It was a volunteer job.
“You don’t scam on something like this,” says the firm’s Wayne Cullenane.
On the way the driver passed the government weighbridge and he was made to stop.
As it turned out the grader was parked on its trailer a little too far back, putting 1075 kilos (four to five wheelbarrow loads of sand) more weight than allowed on one axle.
The other axle was eight tonnes light.
Given this was an emergency, and the driver was trying to save property and maybe lives, the weighbridge staff could have said: “Just take her forward a bit, mate. And good on ya!”
Moving the machine just half a meter on the trailer would have put both axles about four tonnes each under weight.
But what the weighbridge staff did instead was to hold up the transport for about two hours.
They booked the driver.
He may have to go to court.
There may be a fine of several hundred dollars.
When the machine finally got to the quarry the fire was nearly upon it.
The grader operator could feel the heat of the flames, says Mr Cullenane.
The Alice Springs News Online is seeking comment from Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton.


  1. NAME AND SHAME THOSE CLOWNS ERWIN. You over zealous [people – ED] … we dont need your type in the Territory. We need people who we can depend on to save us, not burn us down.

  2. Typical NT Government bureaucratic you know what. God forbid they have an independent thought and assess the situation on the ground, making a decision without having to gain permission in writing from “management” in Darwin prior. Perhaps if the driver had been fortunate enough to have been driving through after 4.21 they may not have encountered such issues!

  3. Agreed! Name [them – ED] and have them taken to account! My god, common sense really is not that common is it.

  4. Of all the idiotic, brainless, moronic things I have read – this takes the cake. They should be made to stand on the front line of a bushfire themselves. Wayne Cullenane gives tirelessly to anyone in need. For someone to treat him this way, I can only assume that they are new to town, or the country! Wayne deserves a Medal, not this insane treatment. I am pretty sure that on this particular occasion, the grader also suffered two punctures which are not cheap to replace. So, what, next time there is an emergency, no one can blame Wayne for thinking twice about helping. This country is built on people like Wayne, it is absolutely disgusting that anyone would treat him this way. Get you head out of your A@SE and see what the real world is like.
    ED – The weighbridge staff have apologized for not realizing that the grader operator was on his way to a fire, and have waived the fine imposed.


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