The boss of a trucking company well-known on Cape York is celebrating victory after organising an unconventional standoff with the Queensland government last week.
On 5 February, drivers from Tuxworth and Woods Carriers staged the protest by parking two prime movers over inspection pits at the Cairns Department of Transport and Main Road (TMR) office, while entrances were blocked with trailers.
After having seven of the company’s first 10 inspections of the year result in trucks being slapped with major defects, owner Simon Tuxworth said the drastic action was “a matter of desperation”.
“They are putting a major defect on minor things, which means you have to come back for another inspection,” he told Cape York Weekly.
“They are understaffed and, because of the way they are doing things, are overwhelmed with bookings.”
Mr Tuxworth said the prime movers, which cost $20,000 each to register annually, would have been sitting idle at a loss of $10,000 per week, per truck, until TMR could fit the grounded fleet in for a follow-up inspection.
Previously, minor defects like the brake imbalance and ABS warning light issues the Tuxworth and Woods Carriers trucks were grounded for would only have to go to a roadworthy agent for post-repair approval, not a TMR inspection centre.
Thankfully, common sense prevailed on 9 February, with Mr Tuxworth describing it as a “near-perfect” response to the protest.
“I had a really positive meeting with the head of TMR on Friday, and they are putting them over the pits for me on Tuesday [13 February],” he explained.
“So, the response I got was near-perfect, when they don’t normally have inspections on Tuesday.”
Mr Tuxworth said he was frustrated by the hurdles that drove him to drop the trailers, but was adamant the issue had never been a reluctance to repair defects.
“The ABS [warning] lights is what they grounded four prime movers for and I fixed them the next day, but the moment I get back onto the dirt, they will come on again.
“My qualm was never the amount of repairs; I have a three-tier safety net [including TMR inspections] and I want people to find things.
“If one of us missed it, the others catch it.”
With 101 registered vehicles, 59 of which require annual inspections, Mr Tuxworth said he hoped his actions would help other transport operators.
“I hated to go to those lengths, but it had to be done,” he said.
“At least now [TMR] can acknowledge what we do and what we have to go through.
“I’m proud of it now, because of the response I got from people.”