Many of us are jaded by the political correctness of our age. We can barely open our mouths without offending someone and we are constantly bombarded with our obligations to be inclusive.
As a business owner I have legal obligations that specifically prohibit discriminating against any person based on their ethnicity, sexuality, disability, etc..
So it really frustrates me off when I encounter bureaucrats and government agencies who actively engage in discrimination and subjugation.
I am an amputee. I lost my leg when I was fifteen. As a result, I have experienced government discrimination overtly in nearly every driving licencing inquiry I have ever made (I live in NSW).
I did both my car and truck driving tests in manual vehicles and passed the driving tests without incident. Despite demonstrating functional competence, faceless and nameless bureaucrats who had nothing to do with the physical tests repeatedly tried to restrict my licence after the tests.
I have been driving manual cars for about thirty-five years. I have been driving heavy trucks for about twenty-four years as a regular part my farming career.
When it became cost effective to deliver more of my own grain I bought a semi and trailers. I knew upgrading me licence was going to be a challenge, but it never occurred to me that I would be prevented from being able to drive them on the road.
According to all the published information, if you have held a HR truck licence for twelve months you are able to upgrade to an MC (multi combination/road train) licence. In NSW the process to upgrade to an MC licence requires you to undertake the Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA).
I sat my knowledge test and passed my mandatory medical exam and applied to upgrade my licence.
It turns out though that in NSW people with a disability are not permitted to do the HVCBA. This is not the case in all states. In NSW though, I was instead allowed to do a special disability test that enabled me to get an HC (heavy combination/single semi) licence.
Having passed the HC test, I was dismayed to find that there was still no standard pathway to upgrade to the MC licence I need. I was advised to apply for a special exemption to be able to do the HVCBA. I won't bore you with the details of that nightmare except to say that I still can't drive my road train legally.
Just to be clear, I am allowed to drive my prime mover with a single trailer, but some bureaucrat has determined that because I am an amputee I should not be allowed to even attempt to demonstrate my competence to drive the same prime mover and pull an extra trailer.
There are no extra pedals to push when pulling the extra trailer.
NSW government policy preventing disabled people from doing the HVCBA for no reason other than the fact that they have a disabled is, by definition, discriminatory.
Governments have an obligation to provide equal opportunity. Instead we see policies applied to people with some diagnoses that either inadvertently or purposefully increase the disadvantage of those people.
This week I read about the tightening of driving standards around drivers with autism. These standards have yielded policies that parallel the discrimination I have experienced. They will affect people who have been driving for decades as well as new drivers.
It was triggering for me because I know how demeaning it can be when dealing with bureaucracy that judges you on a diagnosis rather than your competence.
If any person passes the standard driving test for whatever class of licence they want, regardless of any disability, then they have met the standard to be able to drive and should be allowed to.
- Peter Mailler is a grain and cattle farmer on the NSW/Queensland border.