Covering loads of cane makes sense
TRANSPORT Minister Scott Emerson has made a practical man's contribution to an industry's efficiency.
He has announced that flotation tyres are going to be used on the trucks that haul sugar cane.
This will permit them to cart an extra 2.5 tonnes of cane per load.
These types of tyres are reputed to be less damaging to soil, so degradation of the cane fields will be slowed.
On a simpleton's view of industry, this should mean the grower needs fewer truckloads to get his cane to the mill.
It equates to less truck hours, so the fuel costs would be lower and the depreciation of the heavy plant less. It could be imagined that carbon emissions might be reduced by a fairy's sigh. Generally, the haulage costs should be less and this is a big factor in many primary industries in Australia.
The only player who might not benefit from this announcement is the non-owner driver. This cog in the wheel might find himself with less hours at it.
At the risk of pre-empting further practical policy announcements from the bowels of the transport ministry, what about covering cane truck loads while the spirit of reform is afoot.
If a ratepayer wishes to take a trailer load of domestic rubbish to the landfill, the trailer must be covered.
This protects the environment and also protects other motorists. Fines can be imposed for an uncovered load.
Why is it then, that sugar cane trucks are permitted to haul their cargo from field to the mill without sufficient coverage?
Many of the trailers do not have closed sides - merely grills - so the problem of cane flying out off the top of the load is exacerbated.
At cane crush time, some roads in the Maryborough district take on an unkempt look.
There is also a danger to motorists as anybody who has had to sit behind a laden cane truck knows.
Flotation tyres are good but putting tarps over the loads, despite the cost and inconvenience, is just plain common sense.