«COMMERCIAL RADIO INQUIRY Report of the Australian Broadcasting Authority Hearing into Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Limited February 2000 Sydney ISBN 0 642 ...»
Laws makes his predisposition to favour Star City very clear to his listeners by saying ‘I happen to love Star City’.916 SCH.0001.0091 Submissions made by Mr John Laws – Star City, p. 4.
Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, C2 The Panel’s Findings The Panel finds that this broadcast is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on political and social issues of relevance to the community.
The Panel does not accept the submission of Mr Laws and 2UE that the statement made by Mr Laws ‘I happen to love Star City’ is adequate disclosure.
The Panel finds the available fact of Mr Laws’ contractual agreement with Star City Entertainment was withheld. The existence of Mr Laws’ agreement with Star City was not disclosed in the broadcast.
The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:
♦ the issue was of concern to Star City. Mr Laws responded to Mr Gamble’s letter of 6 November 1998. In his letter, Mr Laws says ‘I can understand your concern about Jeff Kennett’s comments’;917 ♦ Mr Laws defended Star City against the comments made by Mr Kennett. Mr Laws says ‘And I’ll tell you what, the reaction has not been favourable from those who go to Star City. I happen to love Star City’;918 and ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Star City. Mr Laws states Star City has ‘one of the best ballrooms in Sydney’.
The Panel finds that, in the presentation of a current affairs program, Mr Laws presented material in a misleading manner by withholding a relevant available fact, namely the existence of a commercial relationship between himself and Star City Entertainment Pty Limited.
The Panel finds 2UE to be in breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Codes.
Australian Trucking Association (formerly known as the Road Transport Forum) The Panel notes that Mr Laws was aware of the existence of his commercial relationship with the Australian Trucking Association (see ‘Mr Laws’ Agreements and His On-Air Conduct‘ on page 47).
INTERVIEW WITH MR SCULLYMaterial Broadcast by Mr Laws
On 28 November 1997 Mr Laws broadcast the following:
JL.0002.0296; JL.0002.0304 SCH.0001.0091 MR LAWS: There have been some pretty amazing statistics as far as the truckies we call Today’s Truckies in the main. The whole new breed of people. The truckies that we call Today’s Truckies who take their responsibilities and positions in society extremely seriously have done amazingly well by doing that. Fatal accidents involving fatigue and trucks are down by 73%, quite an achievement. Fatal crashes involving trucks have dropped almost half the number of people killed in truck accidents are down by 44% and yet it seems we still have some difficulty in getting national co-operation on what is required to make life easier and safer for not just the truckies. But for all those people listening to me now. All over Australia who are involved with the use of the roads, and that means really most of us, doesn’t it? Really one way or another.
On the line, the NSW Minister involved in these issues, Carl Scully. Good morning Carl … MR LAWS: It is now recognised that a national fatigue management program is definitely the way to go but the feeling seems to be that NSW is a little slow to agree to this happening. Are you going to agree to it happening?
MR SCULLY: Well, I’m moving to that John, my reticence was extending the number of hours that a truck driver can operate. I was a little bit concerned allowing a truck driver go more than 14 hours, but we have a system of log books, which I think to be kind, is creative. I don’t really think that they reflect what’s really happening in terms of a driver, driving that truck on the road and I want to make sure that we don’t just have paper work compliance for the sake of it, but that we encourage a system where drivers get enough sleep and they can drive without being overly fatigued.
MR LAWS: Why are these figures being accepted nationally then? And not by you.
MR SCULLY: Oh, I accept the fact that we need to get moving on this, and I’ll be letting my Queensland counter-part know that we’ll be involved in the Queensland trial on fatigue management. We’re going to have a good look at how we get a better system, which will involve operators taking some responsibility for fatigue and not just putting it on the drivers.
Making sure that we do have a reasonable number of hours. I don’t want to move too far on that 14 hours and having a look at how we can better manage fatigue.
MR LAWS: What are the other states saying about the number of hours?
MR SCULLY: Oh, there’s not too much push for that John, I still would think that 14 hours is about the limit. We’ve done a fair bit of research that shows that it doesn’t matter how fit, or how capable a driver you are, if you don’t get 7 hours sleep a night, basically, you start to get tired and your safety as a driver becomes impaired.
MR LAWS: Yes, well I think the industry agrees with that, don’t they?
MR SCULLY: Yes, yes, so they generally agree with that, so what we’re looking at is a better way of managing fatigue rather than being locked into this log book mentality that is often quite inaccurate what they’ve put down.
MR LAWS: Yeah, well I understand that, but it seems to me that the rest of the states are moving a little faster on it.
MR SCULLY: Well, I baulked at the extension of the 14 hours. That was originally put to me and I’ve held back on that and I’ve managed to get some movement from my colleagues around Australia on that, and in return, I’m prepared to move into that fatigue management trial. We want to look at a better way of managing, rather than a log book mentality and I’ll be doing that quite soon.
MR LAWS: Considering the importance of the work already done by the industry itself, and I know you applaud the work they’ve done, a 73% drop in accidents caused by fatigue.
MR SCULLY: Yes.
MR LAWS: And considering the fact that the most hideous accidents of this sort, sadly occurred in NSW. Mostly on the Pacific Highway with those bus accidents and dreadful things that we all abhor. And it shouldn’t happen again. But considering that there has been a drop in fatal accidents. Which has been brought about mostly by management through the industry itself. Shouldn’t NSW, because of our, perhaps unwarranted, but none-the-less ‘real’ reputation because of the Pacific Highway. Shouldn’t we be leading, rather than, if we are, dragging the chain. Or do you think we are leading?
MR SCULLY: Oh, look we generally lead Australia on road safety, for example Safety Cam, which has been a very effective way of checking how fast drivers are going, we’ll be extending that from 9 sites to 20, that is not used any where else in Australia and I think we generally have a good reputation on road safety. On fatigue management, I’m interested in making sure we have drivers who are not tired.
MR LAWS: Oh yes, and I accept that and understand that and applaud it, but as far as the speed thing is concerned, it seems to be generally agreed that the 90KM/PH speed limit for trucks is not only outdated now and I’ve read an international comment on this but in fact, leading up to Christmas people are saying it is congested for one thing and can be to a degree dangerous because it causes people to take risks. Are you going to have a look at that?
MR SCULLY: I am John, I’m favourably disposed I guess to possibly making a move on that.
I’m getting some mixed messages but evidence is suggesting that there is no better safety outcome having 90, you may recall that was introduced following those terrible bus accidents.
MR LAWS: Yes, I do, yes I do, because of that, that it is now considered to be a little out moded.
MR SCULLY: That is the strong case that has been put to me. I’m having a good look at it and I guess I’m favourably disposed to perhaps making a move on it. I just need to be completely satisfied that we won’t get a poorer road safety outcome.
MR LAWS: Yeah, well surely, the best advice would come from people like the Road Transport Forum who talk constantly to their members and to people involved in this. Because I say, I’ve looked at international comment on this and people do tend to say that our 90KM speed limit is outdated but also, can be considered to be dangerous because of the risks taken by other motorists to get around those vehicles, especially at Christmas time when the roads are congested.
MR SCULLY: Yeah, I am hearing that. Ron Finemore of course is putting it, the Transport Workers Union has put it… MR LAWS: Yes, they have put it very strongly haven’t they?
MR SCULLY: I guess, for road safety management, the buck stops on my desk John, and I just need to be satisfied that increasing the speed could have the opposite effect.
MR LAWS: No, no, look and I understand all of that and I understand your caution is well founded but by the same token, I think it’s wrong considering a number of things that this is the state with the most activity as far as road transport is concerned and also given that we’re doing everything that we can to attract industry to the stage of NSW, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to make it easy for people to be productive?
MR SCULLY: I think you can expect some movement on that issue, provided I can just be completely satisfied that we won’t get a poorer road safety outcome. It appears to be the case. I just need to have a little bit more research done on it and I’ll be talking to Ron Finemore and the TWU just a little bit more, but at the moment it seems to be the way to move. I just haven’t quite finished my deliberations on that.
MR LAWS: Yeah, the reason that I wanted to talk to you was because when we talk to Ministers for transport or Ministers involved in this area in other states, they tend to say, ‘Well, we’re waiting for NSW’ and they may be waiting with good reason, but I don’t think it does us much good for our reputation, sadly.
MR SCULLY: Well, generally, we lead on a lot of initiatives for example the double de-merit points … MR LAWS: Yeah, so we’ve done a lot of terrific things in that area. It seems to be that in the transport area, we may drag the chain?
MR SCULLY: Oh, I don’t think that is entirely fair. We of course have the most trucking operators, we have the most trucks, the most accidents I guess, the largest urban areas, the considerations we have to go through are much bigger than say South Australia or the Northern Territory.
MR LAWS: That’s true, but I think that because we have the biggest and because we have the most, they see us as the ones who should be taking the initiative.
MR SCULLY: We have rightly to be cautious …
MR SCULLY: … road safety outcomes … MR LAWS: Oh, I absolutely understand that MR SCULLY: … so given, I’m balancing, I think reasonably well, the need to be cautious on road safety, but allowing the road transport industry to operate productively and I’ve developed a good rapport with Ron Finemore and the Transport Forum.
MR LAWS: Yeah, well they’re doing wonderful work those fella’s.
MR SCULLY: Oh, it’s a good industry and I’ve just come this morning from, their Road Safety summit. I applauded them for actively getting involved in it and that’s why I like TruckSafe for example, where industry itself gets accreditation, self regulates. I’ve said to them, any operator that’s involved in TruckSafe, they don’t have to have annual inspection of their vehicle any more.
MR LAWS: Yeah, well I think a lot of things we are doing is terrific, I’m glad that you appreciate what the Road Transport Forum is doing and what they are trying to do and I think that they’ve achieved is quite remarkable in a relatively short period of time.
MR SCULLY: I congratulate them and things like TruckSafe, where they don’t have to have annual inspections. That improves their productivity, and in return, they’re showing me that they’re doing the right thing and maintaining roadworthy vehicles. The SafetyCam, they’re welcoming having that greater scrutiny on speed checks, on fatigue management, there is some movement at the station, on the 90-100KM….
MR LAWS: Oh, OK, well that’s good news cause that’s the one that is questioned. Not only, as I say, nationally, but internationally.
MR SCULLY: Yes, there’s a lot of co-operation, I mean I’m not just locked in my office in Macquarie Street.
MR LAWS: I understand that, I mean I hear that very loudly and clearly from the Road Transport Forum, they’re delighted with the co-operation they’re getting from you. I just think the industry itself and perhaps other states would like to see it move a little bit quicker, but again let me say, I understand your reticence and your caution. Better to err on the side of caution than to rush it through isn’t it?
MR SCULLY: I guess at the end of the day, it’s the citizens in this state and it’s the transport industry in this state that I’m primarily concerned about. Not interstate operators and things that might be worried about what we’re doing here, I’ve got to be responsible for the citizens here and...
MR LAWS: Absolutely, but given that we do both conceive that there are problems in some areas, the idea is that if we have national co-operation, life will be easier and safer for all those people involved with road usage and that is about all those people listening to us now.
MR SCULLY: Yeah, we are moving to uniform regulations on a whole range of things. The Australian Transport Council of course is the meeting of Ministers twice a year. We’ve made a lot of progress in getting uniform registration changes for example.
MR LAWS: Yes, I think a lot of good things have happened.
MR SCULLY: We’re actually losing $60 million a year by meeting uniform registration changes for the trucking industry, we lowered our registration charges.
MR LAWS: Yes, but of course there would be those who would say they were too high to begin with. (Chuckles) MR SCULLY: Yes I know, that was a major contribution the government made to the industry.919 Mr Laws’ Submission to the Hearing
Mr Laws made the following submissions in relation to this broadcast: