Jab rule forces Victorian interstate truckies to quit

Chris Goodwin wants to get one thing straight from the outset: he’s not taking his anti-vax stand to start a revolution.

The veteran of 41 years behind the wheel called it quits on his 60th birthday last week in a one-man protest at the mandatory jab rules for interstate truckies that were due to come into play in Victoria.

“A lot of blokes feel like we’re out here on our own and they could read this and think, ‘Oh, we’re not the only ones,” said Goodwin.

“This bloke has been in the game for this long and he’s standing against it, and hopefully that will give them some encouragement.”

Goodwin, part of an iconic Victorian trucking clan that harks back to the bullock team days, admits it wasn’t easy to park up his treasured 1979 Kenworth W Model for the last time.

Chris was grateful for the support he got from Gemma in making his stand.

Rock-hard fit and the healthy for his age after a lifetime of flat top work and tarping, Wallan-based Goodwin had spent the last half a dozen years as a contractor for Milltech Martin Bright, mainly running to South Australia and back.

He loved everything about the job; the camaraderie of his fellow truckies, and the flexibility and freedom that went with it, that invigorating sense of running your own race.

Until the arrival of Delta and all arduous regimes that have come with it, he could have seen himself still doing the role well into his seventies.

“That’s why this decision is so difficult; you’re no longer running your own race.

“You’re going to do what they tell you to do, and I don’t want to rely on authorities to inject a substance into me that I don’t want.”

From a financial standpoint, Goodwin knows he may well be shooting himself in the foot. The road freight industry has been good to him and enabled he and wife Gemma to put three children through private schools and set themselves up for a comfortable retirement.

“But what’s the alternative? The alternative is that we just submit.”

Goodwin admits he won’t miss the over-regulation of the industry.

“They don’t see a truck coming down the road anymore. They see an ATM and they’ll just pull it up and make a withdrawal.

“Long gone are the days when a walloper would pull you up and say, ‘you have a bit of an oil leak there, can you address that?’

“They don’t do that anymore: she’s an instant fine.”

Even so, Goodwin says there is still a certain amount of trepidation about what the future now holds.

He’s in the privileged position of owning his own gear and plans to sell it all off, bit by bit, until there is just the ’79 W Model left.

“If things haven’t turned around by then, I suppose that will be the end of it.

“I could be wrong, and it might all blow over and this time next year it could be good, but I’m a little bit pessimistic about this at the moment.

“This is a tragedy, that’s what it is.”

Clinton Relf washes the Kenworth T404 SAR for the last time.

Clinton Relf parked up his in-law’s Kenworth T404 SAR two days before Goodwin signed off for similar reasons.

Running under his own CRJ Trucking shingle, Banella-based Relf, 35, had been subbing for a bloke in Wangaratta before he made the toughest decision of his working life to take a stand against the mandatory jab rule.

“It was mainly for the moral and ethical side of things,” said Relf, who had been earning the best money he’d ever made in nearly 10 years an intestate truckie.

“The fact that they’re trying to force us to have something, and you can’t make an informed consent to something that’s so new and still in the trial stage.”

Even though he had support of his partner and family, and already has plans to build a shed on his property and pivot into the polishing game, Relf also admits the decision to leave driving was not easy.

“I didn’t want to leave to be honest, but if I don’t stand up for my rights, or even those of my six-year-old son, then I don’t know if I could be happy with myself, just laying down.

“I’m in a good position here where I can have a choice. I really feel sorry for people who have been put in a position in which they don’t have one.”

His message to all truckies is make your voices count.

“We’ve been going to these hotspots in Sydney and Melbourne for so long, and we’ve got some of the strictest testing requirements, yet bugger all of us have got it, so just hang in there.

“People power I reckon, strength in numbers. If you’re not happy about it, make it known.”

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