TMR returns truckies’ toilets to Gatton pads


Wes Walker’s rollercoaster campaigning ride for toilets at the Gatton pads has taken another positive turn today with the return of the portaloos to the site.

An anonymous truckie had organised two to arrive last Friday, only to have them abruptly removed three days later by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) under the threat of $56,000 in fines ($28,000 apiece).

But when WA Senator and former truckie Glenn Sterle got involved after seeing our story, there appears to have been a change of heart.

“We know how important it is to the freight industry that heavy vehicle rest areas and decoupling pads are safe and fit for purpose,” said Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey in a statement to Big Rigs.

“I have spoken with Senator Sterle today and received an update on conditions at the Gatton decoupling area, highlighting the need for toilet facilities on site.

“I’m committed to working with Senator Sterle, Transport and Main Roads and the heavy vehicle industry to find a permanent solution at the site, and have commenced discussions with my department on how best to do this.”

Bailey added that designs for any future toilet facilities at the site will need to take a number of factors into consideration, including the proximity of the area to the University of Queensland Agricultural Research Station.

“In the interim, portable toilets will be returned to the area.

“I thank Senator Sterle for his advocacy on this issue and look forward to delivering a positive outcome to the community as soon as we can.”

Walker, who was on site to welcome the return of the toilets, said he is “over the moon”.

“We’re not the lone rangers anymore. We’ve got everyone coming on board and upping them for the rent,” said Walker.

Sterle praised Bailey for stepping in and acting so quickly to have the toilets returned.

“It’s a great result for those who have to use the Gatton pads and common sense has prevailed. Congratulations Minister Bailey, thank you for that,” said Sterle.

Sterle agreed that the industry has to continue to lobby to get some long-term rest area facilities at the site for truckies.

Senator Sterle, left, visited the site in July with Walker.

He visited the facility in July while at the National Road Freighters Association conference in nearby Toowoomba and was appalled at the lack of facilities.

Walker said he’s also prepared to pursue a legal fight with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) over the lack of toilets on a workplace, if a permanent solution isn’t found.

“I probably should have done that right from the start, but I didn’t think this battle would be so hard,” he said

“It’s not over until the fat lady sings. I’m getting a price now on a proper facility that is still transportable.

“Two showers, two toilets, a urinal and two hand-basins. Walk up three steps because you’ve got the two holding tanks underneath.

“It’s up to us to get it powered into that power box right where we want it.”

Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon said a number of factors have brought this issue to a head so when considering a decision on how to move forward, industry must be considerate of the original intended use of the these facilities as a breakdown pad.

“However, we do acknolwedge that increased use of facility has brought about the need for a solution in the short term to ensure the wellbeing of drivers is being considered. Our intention is to work collaboratively with government to find a solution,” said Mahon.

“The QTA has been in contact with Rod Hannifey, president of the National Road Freighters Association [NRFA] and we will continue to consult with NRFA while the situation is being resolved.”

Hannifey said that the association seeks consultation with government to find an outcome that satisfies the needs for all those using the breakdown pad.

“We acknowledge TMR’s co-operation to resolve this matter and understand that further funding will be required to make any further improvements to the current facility,” he said.

“We do not want this issue to be the cause of a stand-off, but rather an opportunity to work together towards a workable solution.”

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