TWU state secretary Hughie Williams promised union backing for the campaign to fix the Matilda intersection.
TWU state secretary Hughie Williams promised union backing for the campaign to fix the Matilda intersection. Renee Pilcher

TWU promises Matilda action

“WE’LL pester them until it’s fixed,” Transport Workers Union state secretary Hughie Williams vowed yesterday, during an inspection of the Matilda intersection at Kybong.

Referring to the death toll at the intersection, Mr Williams said he believed a 60km limit and traffic lights would be the best solution.

As he spoke, eight cars, a B-Double truck and a grader were attempting to pull out of the Matilda truck stop, with all but the B-Double turning south.

That right-hand turn out of the service station was exactly the manoeuvre which cost the life of nearby resident Brad Garard, 19, on May 2.

Mr Williams’ visit and his commitment to use his Labor Party connections to nag Canberra until it is fixed represent a big step forward in the lobbying campaign started by two safety conscious truck drivers soon after Mr Garard’s death.

Driver Brendan Blatchly, who says he spends most of his working life on the highway, took up the petition single handedly and gathered 800 signatures in Gympie alone.

His cause was taken up by colleague Michael Hogg, who runs a largely safety oriented trucking website, “truckintv.com”.

“You can look at it and it doesn’t look so bad,” Mr Williams said yesterday of the deceptively functional intersection.

“But when you see the traffic volumes and look at the accident figures, it’s obvious something is wrong,” he said.

“Traffic lights may be expensive, but so is human life.

“It’s only when you see what happens here and realise that 10 people have been killed here...

“I’ll be contacting (Federal Infrastructure Minister) Anthony Albanese this afternoon and I will be seeking to meet with him as soon as possible,” Mr Williams.

“Governments complain about costs but we’re all paying plenty in registration fees, fuel tax...they’ve got plenty of money.

“We’re entitled to have safe roads in return,” he said. “If you look at the figures and talk to people, it’s terrible. Something has to be done as soon as possible.

“While we wait for the lights, they can get the engineers who designed the intersection back out here to do it again and make it work.

“We’re a very safety conscious union. Whenever there’s a fatality involving a truck, we’re out there along with the police, trying to find out what happened.

“No truck driver wants to be involved in a fatal crash.

“The fact that the authorities have all this information already and haven’t done anything about it is an indictment on all of them.

“We’ll pester Mr Albanese until the road’s fixed,” he said.

“Of course, they’ve got a lot to think about at the moment and you don’t even know if Mr Albanese will be the Minister by this afternoon, but we’ll make sure this issue gets attention.

“It’s a terrible thing when people lose their lives on the highway, but at an intersection like this, something can be done.

“We’re going to be totally unrelenting in this,” he said.

Mr Blatchly said traffic exiting from the service station posed the major problem, particularly when making a right hand turn to the south.

“Enough is enough. Something just has to be done,” Mr Hogg said.

Cooloola Cabins caravan park owners Greg and Jenny Holland said half their residents would cross the highway on foot at the intersection to buy a newspaper every day.

“Only the federal government can fix it,” they said.

Gympie Times


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