Fraser Coast 4WD Operators Association president Dave Robertson.
Fraser Coast 4WD Operators Association president Dave Robertson.

Plan to train drivers on Fraser

A BOLD new plan to put 4WD hire tourists through a set course driving test on Fraser Island has been knocked on the head by local operators.

“The outcry from conservationists, the cost, the time and the training needed to bring in Chronicle editor Peter Chapman’s suggestion we put tourists through island training would just be prohibitive,” Fraser Coast 4WD Operators Association president Dave Robertson said yesterday.

“It’s not that we cannot see where Peter is coming from. The idea of scrutinising 4WD hirers even more than we already do does have merit and we do already invest a lot of time in training them, assessing them and have even recently placed stickers on the vehicles that limit hirers to driving 60kmh maximum – and usually far less as conditions alter.

“We just don’t hand these people the keys. We grill them.

“But at the end of the day no matter how much training and warnings you give people, you can’t legislate on stupidity.”

Mr Robertson said there were more than 200 4WD hire vehicles between the Fraser Coast and Rainbow Beach.

“How are we going to house them in a World Heritage-listed park? The infrastructure would have to be massive and the wash down facilities and transport for roughly 250 people a day to and from the island way out of possibility.

“The wave of greenies jumping all over you would be unbelievable and there are extremely tough regulations on building on the island. You go through several government departments and we would also need to talk with the traditional land owner, the Butchulla.”

Mr Robertson said many international tourists were used to driving on snow.

“And driving on sand is not that different.”

The hire operators were very aware, he said, of the possibility of their industry being permanently damaged by accidents on the island.

“We employ more than 100 local people here directly and the money that flows through the local economy is massive.

“The last thing we want is to lose that.”

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