It was billed as the first time an Australian premier had driven a triple road train, but Roger Cook’s main political rival didn’t feel in the mood to share in the celebrations at Fitzroy Crossing in WA this week.
Responding to Senator Glenn Sterle’s social media clip of Cook behind the wheel of a Centurion Transport Kenworth T610 triple, opposition leader Shane Love denounced the drive as a “PR stunt”, calling on Cook to apologise for driving a road train on what he claimed was a public road without the correct licence.
But Sterle, a long-time truckie before entering politics and who still regularly drives multi-combinations on charity runs, says Love needs to get his facts straight.
After Sterle, a former Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, had the honour of being the first to drive across the newly opened Fitzroy Crossing Bridge, he swapped seats to give Cook a first-hand experience himself.
The short drive was undertaken under the strictest adherence to the laws, and was held on a nearby 100m dirt track, not a gazetted road, as Cook had claimed.
A WA Police spokeswoman also later confirmed that Cook had driven in a “very controlled, off-road environment” and won’t be pursuing the matter any further.
“One would think you would do your homework first,” said Sterle in response to Cook’s comments.
“I would never do anything that wasn’t safe. There was no risk.
“I will do everything I can to promote our industry. I encourage every political leader and politician to get in a truck, go for a ride with Heather Jones.
“And what sort of message does calling for Roger’s scalp send to the rural and regional folk whose kids are trained on their properties and dirt roads. We should be doing everything we can to encourage more people into trucks.”
Sterle said the official bridge opening also gave him the opportunity to say to the premier, ‘Keep going on the construction, don’t stop’.
“We now need to do Brooking Channel, Two Mile and Blue Bush, and make this an all-weather road. Not only that, get rid of these single lane trails [to better service triple road trains].”
Sterle said the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge has also had a massive positive impact on the workforce in the local community.
“The town of Fitzroy Crossing is alive, there is a buzz. Two hundred and eighty Aboriginal people have been employed on that bridge at some stage. The town is awash with positivity. It’s imperitive that we keep that going.
“For our trucking industry, the sooner we get rid of all those single lane bridges the better, and don’t worry, there are still about another nine to go between there and Kununurra, and let’s keep that skilled workforce in work for many years to come.”