Many Australian politicians fly under the radar with your average Joe Citizen never hearing of their existence. That is until they say something a wee bit provocative in the public sphere, which is exactly what happened to the NSW roads minister, Melinda Pavey. She's held the position since January 2017, but thanks to her misguided motormouth the minister is facing quite a bit of backlash from the community.
It's Pavey's response to a tragic series of road accidents that's raising eyebrows, in particular, her suggestion that technology be implemented that delivers an electric shock to truck drivers if their gaze wanders from the highway for too long. Yep, she has the makings of a super villain. She made the comment during a morning interview broadcast on an ABC Radio News bulletin on January 17.
Her exact words: “The technology is now so advanced; a driver can be driving and get an electric shock if they look away from the windscreen for more than two seconds.” Will this futuristic electroshock therapy be administered through nipple clamps? Stay tuned.
Naturally, the Transport Workers’ Union of NSW was a little peeved when they caught wind of the remark. It unleashed its own statement, branding Pavey’s choice of words as, “Heartless, arrogant and completely incompetent”, and demanding the powers that be exercise “necessary shared responsibility” for the latest surge in road mortalities. Wham bam, thank you ma’am.
The Union expressed that “extreme and unfair working conditions that the NSW Government still refuses to address” play a significant part in causing fatal road accidents, and has been beseeching the authorities to reinvigorate a national road safety watchdog that was shut down during 2016. That watchdog, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, was originally conceived following a report by the National Transport Commission in 2008 that revealed truck drivers’ salary was connected to road safety, backing up the Union’s claims.
In a press release from January 16, Minister Pavey elected to simply implore individuals to drive more carefully, with zero reference to electric shocks.
“I have been both saddened and horrified for families across this state who have lost loved ones or been involved in these incidents,” the minister relayed.
“It’s heartbreaking to know these people will not be making it home to their families and their loss will have devastating effects on their families, workplaces and communities.”
“This is why I am imploring motorists to please slow down, take regular breaks, always wear a seatbelt and don’t use mobile phones.”
Pavey has since clarified that her intention was simply to promote the NSW Government’s increased investment in research on the newfangled technology being used to prevent deaths and injuries on the nation’s highways. Apparently, the method she mentioned does not literally electrocute drivers, but rather vibrates their seat.
It just goes to show that if you don’t watch your words, people will start foaming at the mouth and call for a dunking ceremony to determine whether you practice witchcraft, given the opportunity. Trial by ordeal never goes out of fashion. The minister added that she was “disgusted and appalled that … the Transport Workers Union would play this kind of politics.”