Trucks and the media.

Goodaye all. Years ago I was invited to participate in the TV show, “Enough Rope” with Andrew Denton. Now many would of course wonder about the show from the name, are you expected to Hang Yourself, given, “Enough Rope”? They did struggle to get people involved, with many in our industry either previously badly portrayed or misrepresented in what eventually goes to air or newspaper and so reluctant to be hung, yet again.

However I enjoyed the event, found Andrew to be a terrific bloke (and they later did a book on the series, sending me a copy with a signed inscription from Andrew) and the show did portray us to be both human and also I hope, interesting people. I was contacted last week by the Toowoomba Chronicle to comment on a story about the Toowoomba Range, following a major incident there that left the road blocked and traffic clogged for hours. I started off with the proviso that all roads should be driven subject to the conditions of the road and that I did not want to criticise the road authority, but wanted the article to raise a concern towards a better outcome for the future.

Tom, the Toowoomba journalist pretty much stuck to the script, though failed to mention the one specific issue I raised, complaints I have had from A-double drivers of breaking traction on the new steeper bit of road. The Courier Mail, not only went a lot harder, they used photos of myself and the TIV, without ever speaking to me at all. The headline was “Toowoomba Range Dangerous” and by virtue attributed to me, but not words I ever uttered.

No wonder we are wary of making comment. I do not subscribe to the Courier Mail and so cannot, without paying, answer the replies to the story. Some say the same as I did initially, the road should be driven subject to conditions, others were so stupid, saying trucks should be restricted to 10 KPH and imagine the que and stupidity that would ensue, while cars were held up.

For over 12 years, a fellow I once talked to on live radio, who then did a trip with me to see and feel our issues and then spoke to me nearly monthly for that time, allowing me access to his radio audience across three stations as he moved in his career, from Muswellbrook to Deniliquin an then finally, Murray Bridge in SA, talked to me about trucks on the road.

We started off with the Truckies Top Ten Tips (for sharing the road with trucks) and ranged across events and issues with some replies to stories and issues, but mainly, just giving me the chance to give our side. Thank you to Chris Lewis for such long and helpful support and I wish him all the best for his now, off radio life. No one else has come close in my books yet, but two years on the ABC in Early Mornings, two years on Rig Radio from Wagga Wagga and then another two on Overnight Express and now weekly on Yass FM with Mark, will all help to change how we are seen and perceived by the public, when all too often the only press we get is “TRUCK KILLS”.

How do we change this? How do we get a fair go? I wish I knew and could solve that problem along with others in our industry. All I can do is keep trying. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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