Would the return of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal be a blow to the outback can-do attitude so convincingly embodied by Grant Petrick? A 3000 km round trip as the co-driver of his 135 tonne cattle carrying rig gave me time to ponder that question, writes ERWIN CHLANDA.
We are returning this story to the home page because we have received further government responses – as distinct from answers.
Leaving your home town to learn a trade is a tough call for anyone, even more so if you're an Aborigine living in a tight-knit remote community: while the bright lights may be alluring, the temptation of booze too often has catastrophic consequences.
Now a Cairns, Darwin and Adelaide based company has developed what may well be the answer: Don't take the people to the training, take the training to the people. By ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo: Construction industry trainees in the APY lands.
Life-line to the tiny mining town of Tennant Creek, Dave Baldock was initially horrified when he first arrived there in search of work in 1934.
However, he couldn’t afford to leave and took a job carting for the general store. By 1937 he’d saved enough money to move to Alice Springs and start his own business.
With two single drive V8 Ford tray trucks Dave began carting freight from the railhead in Alice Springs along the Old Telegraph Line to Tennant Creek.
Times were tough so Dave drove both trucks himself. He would drive the first truck, laden with perishables, to Tennant Creek and then fly back to Alice Springs to drive the second (dry goods) truck to Tennant Creek. He would then return to Alice Springs with the second truck piggy backed on the first.
With the WWII upgrade of the road Dave introduced duel wheeled GMCs to his fleet to haul 23 ton payloads; a feat unheard of just five years previous.
After WWII Dave purchased two ex US Army 200 hp Diamond T 980s at the Army surplus sales.
These trucks were powerful enough to tow seven trailers loaded with around twelve tons each and made for a foreboding sight along the track. When laden, the truck had to be kept in low gear as it went downhill or the trailers would push the truck forward.
At the next upgrade you’d have to drive at full speed to keep ahead of the gaining momentum of the trailers.
Most of the trailers were made from American Army Bren Gun trailers.
Dave usually hauled general goods to Tennant Creek and carried copper ore back to Alice Springs. The average length of a Baldock roadtrain was 186 metres and they were, without doubt, the biggest in the world at the time.
In those days, the number of trailers was determined by the power of the truck, the condition of the road and the skill of the driver.
And, Dave Baldock certainly had the skill. His ingenuity with multi-trailer combinations helped pave the way for the development of the modern roadtrain.
Dave was a Foundation Member of the Road Transport Hall of Fame. He passed away in Adelaide in April 2000.
Story and photos courtesy of the Road Transport Hall of Fame.
If you think politics is dull and PC, here's proof that in the Territory it's not.
The live cattle export industry has a lower mortality rate on its ships than P&O cruises, says Shadow Business Minister, David Tollner.
Calling on the Chief Minister to push for a fighting fund promoting the industry "down south", he says the live export and the pastoral industries "should be a source of national pride.
“Unfortunately, as a result of gutless Labor governments in Canberra and Darwin and manipulative animal welfare activists, the industry in northern Australia is on its knees.”
Mr Tollner says: “Cattle ships are sophisticated feed lots which keep animals healthy en-route to overseas markets, there are nutritionists on the ground in Indonesia and the industry supports the livelihoods of thousands of Australian businesses and families.
“Southern Australians need to understand the strengths of the industry to protect it from animal rights extremists."
• Shadow Minister for Transport Adam Giles (pictured) yesterday re-stated the Country Liberals commitment to open speed limits.
He says they were removed in 2007 by the current Labor Government after undertaking a road safety review.
“That review found that tourists, young drivers and Indigenous Territorians were over represented in the Territory’s road toll.
“The review also identified drink driving and not wearing seat belts as the two main contributing factors.
“Speed was never isolated as the sole cause of the majority of accidents.
“Official road toll figures in 2006 were 44. Following the removal of open speed limits the toll increased to 57 and then 75.
“Last year it was 50, higher still than when speed limits were removed."
• Shadow Treasurer John Elferink says under Labor, the Territory’s net debt has blown out to $6.7billion, including liabilities. A dollar coin weighs 9 grams, is 25mm in diameter and 3mm thick. There are 111 dollar coins in a kilo, 111,111 in a tonne.
He says the Territory’s debt takes on mind-boggling proportions when considering:
- It would take $2.2million to fill a 20 tonne road train trailer and $6.7million to fill a three trailer road train.
- It would take 1000 road trains – extending about 50km – to haul the Territory’s debt plus liabilities.
- A $1 coin covers an area of about 500mm square and it would take $2million to fill 1km square.
- Darwin’s area is 112km square. Placing all our dollar coins within Darwin’s footprint would make a stack 90cm high.
- Stacked on the Parliament House footprint, which is 12,900 metres square, the Territory’s debt with liabilities would make a stack 7.8km high.
- Joined end to end, the $6.8billion debt with liabilities in dollar coins would stretch 167,500km – over four times around the world.
- Under Labor, the Territory has accumulated a mountain of debt – approximately $29,000 for every man woman and child and $56,000 per taxpayer.
Says Mr Elferink: "The Labor Government is addicted to spending – and Territory taxpayers are paying."