Truckers defend B-doubles

CRAIG and Leisa Standage run a transport company out of Byron Bay.

They love the Northern Rivers and want to spend the rest of their lives here. Their family and friends are here, and their three children have gone to schools here all their lives.

If legislation to force B-double trucks off the Pacific Highway was introduced, as is the call from highway action groups, the Standages -- and the six other families they employ -- would be faced with the choice: Give up the life they know or join the unemployment lines.

They want B-double protesters to know that in fighting to protect their lifestyles, they could be ruining others.

"Our drivers have 140 years in the Northern Rivers between them. Some are second or third generation Byron shire workers," Mr Standage said.

"Imagine how moving to the New England highway would affect their lifestyles.

"There are at least 30 B-double operating businesses based on the North Coast. They also employ people who have lived here all their lives.

"Is one person's lifestyle more important than anothers?"

Northern Rivers trucking bosses have been relatively quiet as debate over Pacific Highway upgrade routes has raged.

This week, Mr Standage, of CLS Transport, and Maclean-based transport operator Graeme Nicholson, of Nicholson and Page Transport, spoke out in a bid to raise some points they say have been overlooked in the highway debate.

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The first, they said, is that it is not just 'faceless' interstate transport companies who would be affected by moving B-doubles off the Pacific Highway.

"We are your neighbours and our kids go to the same schools as yours," Mr Standage said.

Local transport companies pumped a lot of money into the economy, they said.

"A business operating five trucks and employing 8-10 people injects about $700,000 into the local economy annually. That doesn't include the purchase of vehicles from local dealers which occurs periodically and you don't get much change out of half a million for a B-double unit," Mr Nicholson said.

It would be impossible for local companies to stay in the region and run their B-doubles down the New England highway, the men said.

"For a start, we are servicing the Northern Rivers. We are bringing the food, beer, petrol, clothes, furniture, fertiliser and everything else that you buy at your local shopping centre," Mr Nicholson said.

"This is where the population growth is and where we get our business.

"Secondly, our staff live here so driver rotation would be impossible.

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