NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay praised the efforts of trucking company, Cootes Transport, less than 2 years after the fatal Mona Vale crash that one of the company’s vehicles was involved in.
The minister said that the company were an example of rehabilitation, and have since become one of the best dangerous goods operators in the sector.
The 2013 Mona Vale crash killed 2 people and injured five. The Mona Vale crash made headlines around the country because the heavy vehicle involved was rife with defects. Now the company has undergone a complete turnaround, with the minister heralding Cootes as one of the best operators in the industry.
Speaking at this year’s Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association’s (LBCA) annual conference, the minister made mention of Cootes Transport and its efforts to turn around fortunes after the crash.
NSW and Victorian authorities launched compliance operations and prosecution against the trucking operator, forcing them to overhaul all its practices and upgrade its fleet.
The minister stated:
“At the end of the day, we’ve had a good dialogue and that company has changed its structure, changed its fleet and today is probably one of the best, if not the best, in its area,”
“So it has been a good outcome. We didn’t take them off the road, they know that we really could have taken them off the road. We didn’t want to take them off the road, we wanted to get them to listen to [us] say, ‘Hey, your safety is not at a standard that we can accept’, and they finally got it.”
In 2013 Cootes faced rejection from NSW roads after Minister Gay issued the company with a show cause notice requiring an explanation of why it should be allowed to continue operating in the state.
The company agreed to decommission 50 trucks from its fleet and to have electronic stability control (ESC) fitted to all its vehicles – as of 2019 this will be a statewide requirement for all heavy vehicles.
The company was permitted to continue operating after it opened its maintenance regime to external review and introduce new training and vehicle maintenance procedures.
McAleese, the parent company of Cootes took a $47,3 million hit including the loss of lucrative contracts to the value of $33.3million which should serve as a warning to other operators.
The minister also spoke about the strong relationship his department had with the LBCA. He praised the association for its role in improvement of heavy vehicle access in the state. Minister Gay stated:
“I think of all the relationships I have under my portfolio, the relationship with myself, the department and my staff with the LBCA is our most outstanding relationship,” he says.
“It started four years ago and it continues to get better.”