Archive for November, 2008

Goodbye Wooley, Hello Hadley

That’s what a number of Macquarie Southern Cross Media radio stations are saying.

It started earlier this week when MSCM announced that they were axing Charles Wooley Across Australia, their Hobart based, regionally-focussed talk program, which first went to air in 2006, back when the direct competition was The John Laws Morning Show which had a larger number of network stations, but was fairly Sydney-centric in comparison.

In the middle of last year, Wooley was being picked up by keen listeners in Melbourne, despite not actually broadcasting in to Melbourne. Listeners were tuning in to regional Victorian stations and, as RadioInfo pointed out at the time, it was seen as quite a victory for the Wooley program, as Melbourne was a market in which John Laws never managed to make any inroads. Wooley was even credited with convincing the then federal opposition leader, Dr. Brendan Nelson, to jump in a truck and see the plight of the nation’s truck drivers first-hand earlier this year.

The program has won three ACRAs, one for every year that it’s been on-air, and has been nominated for five more.

Despite all of this, Macquarie Southern Cross Media have decided to axe the show, citing the global financial crisis, and less network stations than former CEO Tim Hughes had hoped for when he pitched the idea for the program to Wooley on an aeroplane. The merger between Fairfax and Southern Cross Broadcasting, which in turn led to various Southern Cross television stations being sold to Macquaire Bank, meant that the Macquaire Regional Radioworks network (which was renamed Macquaire Southern Cross Media) lost a number of stations, as Charles Wooley explained to RadioInfo “It meant they couldn’t own TV and Radio in many markets which meant they had to divest a large chunk of my network. And not enough of the new owners stuck with the show.”

Less stations, and even less revenue, ultimately meant that Macquarie could no longer justify the cost of producing and networking their own morning show, instead they’ve decided to take programming from the other Macquarie, the Macquarie Radio Network, better known as 2GB and 2CH Sydney. Specifically, it’s the Ray Hadley Morning Show from 2GB which will be heard on a selection of Macquarie Southern Cross Stations, namely 2WG Wagga Wagga, 2MC Port Macquarie, 2CS Coffs Harbour, 4GR Toowoomba, 2RG Griffith, 2GZ Orange, 3MA Mildura, MIX FM Maryborough & Hervey Bay.

The move marks a change in tact for both Macquarie Southern Cross, and 2GB. The Charles Wooley Show was devised in order to fill a perceived gap, a lack of programming specifically for regional areas, whilst during the ratings war between 2GB’s Ray Hadley and 2UE’s John Laws (a war won quite convincingly by Hadley in Sydney), 2GB prided themselves on producing programming specifically for a Sydney audience, without the need to cater for network stations. Macquarie Southern Cross now find themselves replacing a program aimed at regional audiences, with a program aimed at a Sydney audience, whilst 2GB will now need to redefine the Hadley show to be more inclusive of other markets.

Hadley is no stranger to broadcasting to network stations, having been John Laws’ understudy and fill-in host for a number of years, and host of the largely successful “Continuous Call Team” program on weekends during the NRL season.

Ray Hadley will be heard on network stations from 9am to 11am starting on the 27th of January, however at this stage it is very unclear as to whether the first hour will be broadcast on 2GB in Sydney. Currently Alan Jones broadcasts on 2GB until 10am, with Ray Hadley broadcasting from 10am to 1pm, so this could be a subtle way of reducing Alan Jones’ workload without putting the spotlight on Jones’ recent health problems and the ongoing speculation about when or if he may decide to retire.

Either way, it’s a gamble for 2GB who, whilst holding almost a 2-1 ratings lead over talk rivals 702 ABC Sydney and 2UE, are changing one of their self-proclaimed keys to success, their ability to engage directly with a Sydney audience. Whilst it will be unlikely that 2GB will suffer due to having less Sydney focus, it will be interesting to see how they fare against 2UE’s morning program which is networked to many stations across New South Wales and the ACT, and 702 ABC Sydney’s morning show which is broadcast solely to Sydney.

Hadley seems to think it will be a winner though, telling one caller this morning that he is “confident the listeners on stations across Australia will enjoy what we have to offer” as he let the cat out of the bag about the networking deal.

As for Charles Wooley, he’s gone back to Channel Nine’s “Sixty Minutes” current affairs program, but hasn’t given up on Macquarie Southern Cross just yet, saying that “discussions are still open with MACSC about doing an hour or two of a weekend.”

It seems that once radio gets in to your blood, it just won’t leave.

Samuel

1 comment November 20th, 2008 at 10:56pm

New blood at Media Watch next year

ABC TV’s Media Watch program appears to be receiving an injection of new blood for its return next year. The ABC are currently advertising to fill two positions:
Supervising Producer (advertised a second time here)
Producer – 20th Anniversary Program

The producer for the 20th anniversary program sounds like quite an interesting role and I’m sure that they’ll have fun looking back through the program’s archives from the last 20 years. That role is a temporary role running for four months, and if you’re interested you’d better hurry because applications close tomorrow.

The Supervising Producer role is a ten month temporary role starting in January, with applications closing late next week.

I’m sure that Jonathan Holmes, who I think has done a wonderful job presenting the show this year, will be pleased that they aren’t advertising for a new host.

Samuel

November 20th, 2008 at 06:43pm

Unscheduled Stopover?

I just heard ABC TV News refer to Kevin Rudd’s brief visit to storm-ravaged parts of Queensland as an “unscheduled stopover”. Unscheduled? I think not, unless Fairfax Radio Network’s Alison Carabine has developed some sort of psychic power. Alison was reporting this morning that Mr. Rudd would be briefly visiting Queensland to inspect storm damage…maybe the ABC newsroom didn’t get the memo?

Samuel

November 18th, 2008 at 07:08pm

Driver Training In Schools

Good evening Stuart,

I see that we're having the "driver training should be compulsory in schools" debate again. I have no problem with the idea of driver training in schools, but I think the idea of making it compulsory is a mistake. If it is to be practical training, then I also fail to see how insurance and other costs could feasibly fit within the already stretched education budget.

Personally I quite like the ACT system where a "road ready" course must be undertaken prior to one obtaining a learner licence. This course, whilst available directly from the government, has been made a part of the year ten curriculum. I personally opted out of doing this course as, at the age of 15, the idea of driving and being responsible for a motor vehicle came fairly close to scaring me. I would imagine that I was not alone in this, and it is for this reason that I think making such courses compulsory is a mistake, even more so if the idea is for practical training.

Enjoy your night.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

November 17th, 2008 at 09:30pm

It’s Official: National Party oust Labour in New Zealand Election

Congratulations to John Key, who has just secured his spot as New Zealand Prime Minister

A new minority government in New Zealand will be sworn in this week after John Key, prime minister-elect and leader of the conservative National Party, signed power-sharing agreements with three other parties.
[..]
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was appointed Minister of Maori Affairs and his colleague Tariana Turia Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, a new portfolio designed to give wide-ranging responsibility for the welfare of her people, who are the most disadvantaged sector of the population.

Key admitted the two parties held opposing views in some areas and conceded his new government was moving into “uncharted territory”. But he said he was confident the relationship was built on mutual respect and trust, and would last for the three-year commitment to the next election.
[..]
As a result of the agreements finalised on Sunday, the Nationals are now guaranteed 70 of the 122 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Maori and the free market ACT parties – who each won five seats – and the sole United Future member Peter Dunne, agreed to support the Nationals on all critical votes in exchange for ministerial posts outside the cabinet.

The agreements said that by staying outside cabinet, the ministers would be free to present their parties’ policies where they differed with the government on areas that were not within their portfolios.

The Maori Party leaders were also made associate ministers for health, education, social development and employment – all areas they identified as important for the nation’s 565,000 Maoris, who account for about 15 per cent of the population.

This sounds like a very interesting experiment, especially considering that former National Party leader Don Brash had a policy that would have abolish the seven seats in parliament reserved for Maoris, removed their traditional indigenous rights and scraped the government’s obligation to consult them on new legislation. That was four years ago, so one does have to wonder how many supporters of that policy are left in the party, and what sort of strain that could place on this seemingly fragile coalition.

Samuel

1 comment November 16th, 2008 at 09:25pm

Aircheck Sunday: AIR Sport Half Hourly Updates 7-Sep-2008

Something new for a Sunday on Samuel’s Blog, it’s Aircheck Sunday. Basically the idea is that I put various bits of my recent on-air activities online for your enjoyment/amusement/critique/ignoring. I’m going back to September for this one as I have a bit of audio to upload from the last couple of months and that should keep us busy for the next few weeks. Whether this feature continues on a weekly or irregular basis after that is a decision that I will have to make at the time.

At this, rather early stage, it’s quite possible that I might put it on a fortnightly basis, with a new series of Samuel In Dolgnwot filling the gaps. Just a thought.

Anyway, back to the afternoon of Sunday, the 7th of September, and the half hourly sport updates from 2pm onwards. Although technically the news service ceases at 5pm on weekends, we generally run with a 5:30 update for SA/NT network stations to use during the 5pm news in their timezone and for the other states to run with the 6pm bulletin if they so-desire. As it happened on this particular day, the AFL just took a bit longer to finish than expected, and we went with a 6pm update as well.

Enjoy!

[audio:https://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/AircheckSunday/AIRSport20080907.mp3]
Download MP3

Copyright notice: Copyright on this audio is jointly held by Samuel Gordon-Stewart and Australian Independent Radio News and is made available for personal use, and “fair use” as defined by copyright legislation only. This audio may not be redistributed without the prior written permission of either copyright holder.

Samuel

2 comments November 16th, 2008 at 09:50am

And I had my hopes up for a fleeting moment…

One of today’s many articles on The RiotACT had my hopes up for a fleeting moment when I saw the headline:

Bocking in Canberra

Of course the category should have made me tweak:

Sport

Although a certain Mr. Bocking is an avid golfer…that said, the first few words of the article made me realise that this was all a terrible mistake:

No – not the beer – the Jumping Stilts.

They are stilts with a spring on them and they are [..]

And before I could say a word, commenter Wide Boy Jake stole my thunder:

#3 posted by Wide Boy Jake
(Anarchist)
16:04, 15 Nov 2008

Don’t you mean bonking? Or are you talking about Stuart Bocking (2UE/2CC announcer)?

Ah well, I suppose I should have a word in John Kerr’s ear about that Canberra lunch he’s been supposedly planning for an age and a half.

Samuel

November 15th, 2008 at 04:53pm

Friday Funnies: It boosts the entertainment, not the news

I’ve been looking around on YouTube lately finding various former station and news IDs from Canberra television stations as I intend on bring them to you over the coming weeks, and while I was looking around I found this rather amusing clip from ABC TV’s Media Watch from 1999 which reminded me of a rather amusing column that Rod Quinn wrote for The Chronicle about Seven’s amusing changes to their news service in that year. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of “They’ve had one presenter, two presenters, people standing, people sitting, people standing again, one presenter, more sitting, back to two presenters and standing…and they still can’t beat Nine. It’s no wonder, with gimmicks like these”.

I think I still have that column at home somewhere, I’ll have to dig it out and share it with you at some stage.

In the meantime, enjoy Channels Seven and Nine battling over the definition of the word “leading”, trying to work out who “knows news”, and Ann Sanders using the word of the week, which probably summarises their whole failed experiment.

Yes, that word was “shonky”…and I can’t help but wonder why, with Ross Symonds just off camera, she didn’t cross to him on the large television? Surely it would have saved the arduous lengthy walk from the other side of the room…just stand next to the television and chat with Ross through it!

If you have a joke or a funny video that you’d like to see here on a Friday, send an email to samuel@samuelgordonstewart.com and it might just appear in the coming weeks.

Samuel

November 14th, 2008 at 06:05am

Odds And Ends

Because I just won’t get to them otherwise…

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees solves the problem of incompetent ministers. Just sack them all and have a one man show.

Gmail Chat was always an effort to save the Google Talk client, and now finally the two can be considered equal: Gmail Chat has audio and video capabilities.

Got a spare $USD130 billion to give away each year? Good, because Barack Obama’s health plans could cost that much. And to think that political parties in this country bother to cost their promises before the election.

Using an “unsupported web browser” (or even an ever-so-slightly customised version of a supported web browser)? If so, Microsoft have introduced random bugs in to Hotmail for your convenience. That said, if you use Hotmail, you kind of deserve what you get.

Got a problem and the media won’t ignore it, but don’t feel like launching another inquiry? Kevin Rudd has the answer…declare war on it!

Samuel

November 14th, 2008 at 02:50am

What a day

Midnight to 8am: Work…stayed until about 10am because, well, coffee is at its best when its cold
10:30am: Walkies with Nattie

11am: A short nap…but no, not happening, can’t sleep, too many thoughts, and it’s too hot to sleep.

11:45: Depart for 1WAY FM

Midday: Various bits and pieces at 1WAY FM, including a drive to Curtin for lunch…I haven’t had a sandwich from there for ages. Spot ACTION bus 854 leaving Woden…I haven’t seen that bus for nearly a year and now I see it five times in the space of a week? Regardless, it’s their best bus…I should buy it when they eventually sell it.

3:50ish: Leave 1WAY FM with the intention of finding a particular dirt road just past Gungahlin which I found once, and haven’t been able to find again. Decided to take the “scenic” route through the CBD and Northbourne Avenue.

4:10ish: Ambulance rushes through Civic, northbound on Northbourne, nearly flattening a pedestrian in the process.

4:15ish: Something’s going on at the Lyneham flats…previous ambulance is leaving the scene, there’s another one on-scene and four, maybe five Police cars. I decide to park a couple blocks away and investigate on foot.

4:20ish: “Probably a stabbing” crosses my mind, but the roped off area seems a bit big for that. Police are interviewing a couple people at the scene. I call 2CC to report it.

4:28: Converse with 2CC’s Mike Welsh about incident. Am prompted to find out more.

4:30: Approach Police for more info. Get an “alright, we’ll see what we can do”.

4:32ish: Get the “stand here and wait for a bit” line

4:34ish: “Police Media will be here soon, they’ll be able to chat with you”

4:45ish: “We’ve issued a press release, Police Media will be here soon”. It was a stabbing after all.

4:45ish: Advised that 2CC newsroom will take it from here. Notice RiotACT’s Johnboy taking photos.

4:55ish: Forensics and Detectives have arrived, and finally I can get across the road with this traffic. Notice Adam Lavelle circling above in the ATN Cessna.

5:05ish: Notice what appears to be unmarked Police cars, with uniformed officers in them, pulling in to a nearby unit block. Leave area. Camera crew on-scene…WIN or ABC?

5:10ish: Decide not to find mystery road today, and instead head to 2CC studios. Stay there until a tad after 6pm. Interesting tidbit of unofficial and unusable news comes through about stabbing. If true, victim is very lucky (yeah, sorry, can’t disclose it yet).

6:20ish: Yeesh, there are even more Police outside the Lyneham Flats now than there were earlier.

6:30ish: WIN News top story is stabbing, but sounds like they did a quick re-write of the press release. No footage.

7pm: ABC News…stabbing not in headlines, odd.

7:10pm: Stabbing story gets a run with footage…so it was an ABC film crew after all. ABC declare that a woman is “assisting with enquiries” while showing footage of the loud, slightly agitated woman from the scene.

7:15pm: Discover that billing system at work has incorrectly charged $50 to my credit card. Must deal with that when I get to work.

7:30ish: Time for some sleep…err no, time to write a blog post and then either sleep or have dinner. Either way I need to be up at about 11pm. On the bright side, my weekend starts at 8am tomorrow, so I can sleep for as long as I like tomorrow after work.

Samuel

November 13th, 2008 at 07:57pm

Some ground rules for debating a talkback radio host

Sometimes it’s just best to learn from a good example of how not to do it. Back in April, caller Lynn rang US talkback radio host Rush Limbaugh to inform him that the Bush administration has been a failure. I’m sure that Lynn had many good reasons for believing that, and I’m not going to debate the topic of the call, this post is really for a bit of fun.

Lynn may have had a point to make, but she clearly forgot that it’s not the host that you need to convince, it’s the listeners, and the way to do that is to back up your statements either with facts or things which sound like facts. Basing your entire argument on “I don’t know what planet you’re on, but down here on Planet Earth…”, the word “no” and “I don’t believe that”, really doesn’t get you anywhere. They’re good phrases, but they need substance behind them.

Lynn could have made a lot of people stop and think if she had produced some facts, as this could have been a very interesting debate…sadly it turned in to a rather amusing seven minute case of “this is not how you debate people on the radio”.

Kudos to Rush for trying to get a meaningful conversation going, and to Lynn for her persistence in her belief that the word “no” would magically change Rush’s mind. It really does take all types to make this little planet down here called Earth.

Samuel

November 13th, 2008 at 02:08pm

The shonky way to get a three-day paid holiday

Follow Wilson Tuckey’s lead…interrupt some people in your workplace, and then when your supervisor comes over to ask you sit sit down, behave and get back to work, tell him or her that you will do that, so that they can “get on with this shonky business“:

Outspoken Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey has been suspended from parliament for three sitting days for defying the Speaker.

Mr Tuckey was forced five times to withdraw remarks he made about Treasurer Wayne Swan.

The veteran MP had earlier interrupted Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner’s answer to a question without notice by raising a point of order.

“The remarks of the minister for finance are an invitation to disorder and if wants us to talk about Wayne Swan running around with bags of money in Queensland and the disgrace that was delivered to him, well let him suspend standing orders and we’ll get into the shonks,” Mr Tuckey said.

When asked to withdraw, the MP said: “I will withdraw to let you get on with this shonky business.”

All of this commotion seems to have confused poor old Lindsay Tanner who forgot the laws of cause and effect:

The opposition failed in a bid to later silence Mr Tanner, prompting the minister to say: “Many, many years ago a colleague gave me a word of advice – when you throw a stone into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps gets hit.”

I’m fairly certain that the events occur in the opposite order, ie. “the one that gets hit, yelps”.

Then again, perhaps it’s a proposed shonky amendment to the laws of cause-and-effect. All those in favour…

Samuel

November 13th, 2008 at 10:45am

Despite Police statistics, the unlicensed drivers aren’t about to kill everyone

I’ll start this by saying that I have a lot of respect for the Police and the work that they do, in fact it is on my list as a possible long-term career objective, although whether I would meet the fitness requirements of the job is something that we can debate another day. As such, none of what I’m about to say is in any way intended as a slur against the Police, rather it’s an editorial that I should have written a long time ago about how annoyed I am at a particular set of dubious and malleable statistics being trotted out by the Police on a regular basis.

I’m referring to the statistics which get thrown at us about unlicensed drivers. Of late, with automated number plate recognition technology being used all over the place in “compliance operations”, these statistics have been trotted out a bit more than usual, generally alongside a statement from a senior Police officer who is “disappointed”. The latest AFP press release on the subject is a good example:

Traffic compliance “Results disappointing”
Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Compliance Targeting Team, comprising of ACT Policing officers and ACT Government representatives continue to be disappointed by Canberra drivers.

Using the highly-successful RAPID plate-recognition system, the team has targeted unregistered, uninsured and defective vehicles and unlicensed drivers on Canberra’s main arterial roads since 20 October, 2008.

To date, the team has detected 111 unregistered vehicles, 56 uninsured vehicles and issued 215 vehicle defect notices.

Of significant concern is that 126 unlicensed drivers, including 50 suspended and 6 disqualified drivers were detected.

Detective Superintendant Mark Colbran said it was driver’s continual disregard for compliance and road safety which is most disappointing.

“The fact that between January 2006 to September 2008, 22% of serious motor vehicle collisions involving injury in the ACT involved either unlicensed drivers or unregistered vehicles, highlights the importance of these types of operations to the safety of all Canberra road users.” Supt Colbran said.

“We will continue to target those drivers who fail to register and insure their vehicles, in all areas of Canberra”.

“These operations are for the safety of all Canberra motorists and we ask that all motorists be patient when approaching vehicle checking points”.

Motorists should be aware that the Compliance Targeting Team will be conducting a compliance operation on Adelaide Avenue, commencing at 3pm, Friday (November 14). Traffic delays should be expected.

The main problem that I have with these statistics is that they seem to work on the premise that a shiny bits of plastic turn people perfect drivers which, as we know, is utter nonsense. People with valid shiny bits of plastic are involved in accidents all the time…in fact, according to Detective Superintendant Colbran, people with valid shiny bits of plastic and valid vehicle registration are involved in 78% of serious motor vehicle collisions involving injury. So, does that mean that 22% of such collisions involve “unlicensed” drivers…well that really depends on your definition of unlicensed. (I’m going to stick with the 22% number, which is an overestimation, for the moment, because I have no figures with which to separate the “unlicensed” from the “unregistered”).

When the Police talk about “unlicensed drivers” they really mean people who don’t have a valid bit of shiny plastic. Basically it’s an erroneous name for a statistic which includes people who have invalid bits of plastic (eg. those who have been suspended and/or disqualified from driving) and people who have never had a bit of plastic (who, for the sake of convenience, I’m going to refer to as the “never-helds”, an abbreviation of “never held a licence” which is another term which seems to get used). It’s slightly unclear whether these figures include unsupervised learners.

“What’s the problem with grouping all of these people as “unlicensed”…after all, they aren’t insured?” I hear you ask. Quite simply, each category has a very different risk factor:

Suspended drivers are a tad difficult to quantify. In most cases, they’re probably not outright lunatics, a lot of the time they’re probably just people who were over the speed limit a couple too many times when somebody in authority was watching. For every one of these people, there is probably another validly licensed driver who has done the same thing, just without being caught. Sure, there will be some in this category who probably deserve to be off the road for longer than their suspension period, but for most who have been suspended purely on accumulated demerit points, they’re not exactly a high risk, most would probably be about the same risk as validly licensed drivers.

Disqualified drivers are a different story. These tend to be repeat habitual offenders who have been removed from the road and have been disqualified from holding a driver’s licence for very good reasons. This category are almost always a ticking time-bomb and I fully support efforts to keep these people off our roads.

Those categories are very easy to count, and are therefore quite easy to include in accurate statistics. We know how many of them exist, and we can easily work out the “serious collision” rate for these categories of drivers. The other categories aren’t quite as easy.

Unsupervised learners: There are plenty of them. We know how many leaner drivers exist, but we can’t really work out how many of them are unsupervised at any given time, especially seeing as any half-smart unsupervised learner will not be displaying “L” plates. Generally speaking, despite their lack of experience, learners are regarded as the safest category of driver on the road, and considering that learners are generally competent enough to progress to a provisional licence for some time before they actually do progress (you don’t suddenly become competent in the last five minutes of your final assessment or logbook lesson), having a competent learner on the road without supervision isn’t likely to cause a “serious collision”. As far as I’m concerned, this is a fairly low risk category as well, especially when you consider that learners do their learning on public roads, and it’s very rare to hear of a fatal collision involving a learner driver.

Drivers who have never held a licence: A completely unquantifiable category. We know that they exist, because the Police keep telling us that they’ve found some, and I would suggest that we have probably all known at least one. The Police like to make an example of this category when they find them, especially if they’ve been involved in some other traffic incident. “Police catch driver travelling 10km/h over the speed limit” doesn’t make for much of a news story, but “Police catch unlicensed driver at 10km/h over the speed limit” does make for a bit of a story. Ultimately the Police, apart from actually enforcing the law, have the job of making us believe that they are enforcing the law within a three block radius, hence the whole raft of “do this and you will be caught” messages that we receive from them on a regular basis, and it’s much easier to get that sort of message out there with stories about people who are perceived as “doers-of-no-good”, so they run with those stories as much as possible, further cementing the category’s place on the “doers-of-no-good” list.

Anyway, the “never-helds” are impossible to quantify because, by the very nature of the category, there is no list of people in the category, so we can’t say that “90% of people in this category will kill someone if we don’t stop them first” because to say that, we would need to be able to show that, historically, 90% of never-helds end up killing someone. We can’t measure a percentage of an unknown number, so we can’t really say that “never-helds” are more or less likely to kill or injure another road user.

I’d be willing to admit that this category appear in more Police press releases than any other category, but I’ve already explained the reasons for that, and it has nothing to do with the number of incidents involving this category of driver. The interesting thing that we can see about the press releases regarding collisions involving this category of driver, is that, almost without fail, there is another contributing factor, generally alcohol, which basically means that, like every other category of driver, a drunk version of this category is more dangerous than a sober version of this category.

This kind of leads back to my original point. Despite all of the press releases about Police catching people who have never held a licence, they still keep finding them at these “compliance operations”, and they only reason they are finding them is because the number plate recognition software has said “Car is registered to person without licence…check driver”. The people driving in front, behind and next to the unlicensed driver didn’t know that they were unlicensed, which indicates that they were probably driving normally. It is said that a good driver “blends in”, and that’s precisely what most “never-helds” do.

Really, the crime here isn’t that they’re dangerous (which in most cases they’re not), it’s that they haven’t gone through the administrative hoops required in order to make insurance companies cough up in the case of something bad happening. It’s got nothing to do with road safety, and everything to do with paying the government nominal amounts of money for bits of shiny plastic that insurance companies like.

Don’t believe me? Well consider this. The usual fine for a driver who has never held a licence in the ACT is about $400. The fine for an unsupervised learner is about $90. Considering that you can start the day as a “never-held” and end the day as an unsupervised learner, without any noticeable increase in skills or ability, and absolutely no increase in your level of insurability, do you still think that this is about road safety?

If anything, it’s probably about “compliance”. We have rules, therefore they should be followed, and that will make everyone safe. Gee, what was that statistic? 78% of “serious motor vehicle collisions involving injury” involve people who validly licensed drivers…and this year’s road toll is how high? Well, that’s been a roaring success hasn’t it?

I suppose that I have missed one category…the people with expired licences. I think we’ve already disproved the notion that plastic makes you safer, so I probably don’t need to elaborate on this category.

So, what am I getting at with all of this? Am I suggesting that we should abolish licences and have a free-for-all? No, absolutely not. The licensing system is about personal responsibility, it’s a deterrent, a “be responsible or we’ll take this plastic away, and your ability to drive along with it”. The licensing system is not perfect, but it plays an important role in society…it’s a way for us, as a society, to say, “yes, you can drive that particular type of vehicle and we trust you to do so”, and through that, we can put in place a system to deal with problems when they occur.

What I’m getting at here, is that we are constantly being fed some nonsense of a statistic about “never-helds” and unsupervised learners being as dangerous as disqualified drivers, and as a population, accepting it without thinking about it.

As I said earlier, I’m sure that almost all of us have know at least one person who has been driving when they legally should not have been, it’s probably a side-effect of the car becoming such an integral part of modern society, and some of us may have even been there ourselves, I know that I have been. I’m not proud of it, and I was certainly a bit out-of-pocket because of it on a few occasions, but I never hurt anyone, and nobody worked it out (except for one person who guessed after about two hours of guessing why I was feeling too paranoid to leave work) so I must have “blended in”. If I could go back, the only thing I would change is that I would have gotten (what an awful word) my licence a bit sooner than I did.

The bottom line to all of this is that unlicensed drivers generally aren’t as bad as we might like to believe. I don’t condone the behaviour from a legal and administrative perspective, and I regret my part in it, but for the most part, you probably notice them about as much as you notice any validly licensed driver, and no matter how much Police Media may try to mangle the statistics, we’re not all about to die at the hands of unlicensed drivers.

If the statistics say anything useful at all, it’s that the Police aren’t catching enough unlicensed drivers in their general day-to-day duties (which could be construed as a testament to the “blending-in” of these drivers) and as such, their “concerning” catch rate in these operations is too high for their day-to-day statistics to look any good, and as such they’re trying to lower the catch rate by warning us all about the next operation, and effectively telling all the drivers who could be caught to “please avoid this road for a little while”.

Perhaps the lesson from this is that critical thinking should apply to everything that you read, especially that which comes from The Powers That Be. The things which you find between the printed lines can sometimes be quite interesting.

Samuel

November 13th, 2008 at 06:39am

Talkback Caller Quote Of The Day

Bob, who called Jim Ball this morning: “There are too many fictional movies these days”.

I don’t think that’s what he meant, but those are the words that were sent down the phone line and across the airwaves.

Samuel

November 13th, 2008 at 04:17am

McCain is right: don’t blame Palin

This has probably taken a bit too long, but John McCain has finally said what needed to be said:

John McCain said today that Sarah Palin did not damage his presidential bid, and he dismissed as typical campaign sniping anonymous criticism aimed at her following their crushing defeat.
[..]
He disputed that a different vice presidential pick would have changed the outcome against Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

At campaign rallies, “The people were very excited and inspired by her. That’s what really mattered, I think,” McCain said. “She’s a great reformer.”

I, for one, hope to see Sarah Palin back in four or eight years (preferably eight, because I’m expecting Barack Obama to see out a full eight year dual term) having a shot at the top job. Given a bit more time to build up her experience, I think she could make a great US President.

In the meantime, hopefully John McCain’s statements on the Jay Leno Tonight Show will be enough to stop, or severely slow, the Republican in-fighting. The last thing the US needs is an opposition party who unravel in to a giant messy rabble in the way that the Liberal party seem to do in opposition in this country.

Samuel

1 comment November 13th, 2008 at 01:12am

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