Debate rages over backpacker drivers

French backpacker Remi Moreau, who drives regularly around the Childers region, says that he would have no problem taking a test prior to being able to drive in Australia. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
French backpacker Remi Moreau, who drives regularly around the Childers region, says that he would have no problem taking a test prior to being able to drive in Australia. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

THE heated debate over backpackers driving has escalated with politicians, backpackers and Childers accommodation providers weighing in.

On Thursday, Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson delivered two attacks on foreign and city drivers in 24 hours - particularly singling out Asian drivers - and was forced to apologise for his comments.

He issued a statement about his comments after Premier Campbell Newman told media he had "been spoken to".

He had earlier spoken on 4BC radio about how Asian people had no comprehension of the road rules and foreign drivers should be forced to have training before being let loose on Queensland roads.

In Monday's NewsMail Childers farmer Tony Russo called for a law change to make it mandatory for international backpackers to sit a driving test before driving on Queensland roads.

Mr Russo's call came two days after two Hervey Bay men were killed in a head-on collision involving two Asian backpackers.

French backpacker Remi Moreau has been in Australia for nine months and said he would not mind sitting a driving test prior to driving on Australian roads.

"Before I came here I went online and read about the road rules in Australia," he said.

"There are law differences but in my experience you get used to it pretty quickly.

"I think you have bad Australian drivers and bad French drivers."

Sugarbowl Caravan Park and Tourist Centre lessee Rod Worth said the majority of backpackers he'd met had been fine drivers.

"I don't think we can label all backpackers as bad drivers. It is far too much of a generalisation," he said.

"Maybe among them there are some bad apples but you get that in every walk of life.

"I have seen no evidence that they are any worse than any other drivers that we have around the area."

Childers Ecolodge owner Vanessa Kummerow suggested car rental companies could run through the road rules with foreigners that rented a car through them.

"Maybe that could be a positive initiative without going to the regulation stage," she said.

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said all drivers needed to take more care to reduce the number of traffic crashes and tragedies on our roads.

"I ask everyone whether they are a local resident or a tourist to slow down and drive to the conditions," he said.

"We have dedicated police who are patrolling Bundaberg's roads to enforce road rules, and if you break them, they will catch you."

Topics:  backpacker campbell newman jack dempsey road rules

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