It started with a push for workplace rights, but the subversion of the #IStandWithTruckies hashtag is indicative of where we’re at in this country.
The virtues of a transient workplace such as mine mean you can roll your eyes at fellow staff’s comments without reprisal. The downside is that the comments you hear don’t have a face, they just come through the radio, supplanted by the next, louder comment.
On Twitter, the hashtag #IStandWithTruckies is trending, inspired by the possibility of a countrywide blockade erected in response to the government (whichever one) making a vaccine mandatory. It, like many things of ill repute, is an American invention, one eagerly bumped by sound thinkers, like Clive Palmer.
On the platform, user Ben Davison writes:
“Right now the mouthpieces of foreign propaganda are using #IStandWithTruckies to plan a series of blockades to undermine our #Covid19 response. The screenshot is from a video with an American explaining how to disable a truck to use it as a barricade.”
Elsewhere, under the same hashtag, many are showing support of the plan, purely because of the crucial role that truckers possess. It’s a maxim I hear in my workplace. If we stop, the country stops. We are the people that the government will listen to. If we stop for a week or month, the government will really feel it. However, the point is lost, as the message is a drive against political corruption and/or taking back the country.
— Space Karen (@Karen54379260) August 23, 2021
In reality, the genesis of the movement was motivated by the application of COVID rules at a roadhouse in Gilandra. According to what information has been passed on, the local police apparently threatened a $5000 fine if they let truckies dine-in, which conflicts with the National Cabinet exemption allowing dedicated stops and lounges to remain open during Covid lockdowns.
Per Big Rigs:
“Senator Glenn Sterle, a former truckie himself, has now taken up the fight, writing to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and other state cabinet members to get on board and ensure police abide by the National Cabinet directive on truckies’ facilities.
“‘I urge you to please show some leadership, put an end to the confusion and ensure that the above-mentioned exemption is upheld and roadhouses are allowed to stay open to provide the services our essential truck drivers rely on,’ said Sterle in a sternly-worded letter this week.”
From there, it spooled out of control. While it was initially about the denial of basic amenities on the road (the ability to eat, shower and change), it has now been misappropriated by far-right figures who may or may not believe that the world is run by child abusers. This is certainly a shame, as we’re now suddenly about to form a countrywide blockade for reasons we’re not entirely unified about. It’s either about overthrowing ‘Afgladystan’ or being able to get out of our cabs when we stop.
Indeed, per Big Rigs, the Gilandra matter was quickly resolved.
“Common sense has prevailed in Gilgandra and staff at the roadhouses there can now serve sit-down meals to truckies without the threat of fines from police, advises Senator Sterle’s office. After a flurry of follow-up emails between the NHVR, Transport for NSW and local police, the drivers’ lounges are back in business,” the publication wrote.
Big Rigs also published the following post on the Facebook page of the HomeStyle Diner & Takeaway restaurant:
“To All our DRIVERS, after many phone calls emails and messages we are glad to inform you that our Drivers lounge is open for Drivers only to ensure that we follow rules the tables have been set out to the square meter rule. You can sit down and eat your meal providing u (sic) only sit eat your meal and follow the COVID rules…this is an amazing outcome for our Transport drivers. No Locals and or Traveler’s (sic) can sit in this area it is for Drivers only to manage their Fatigue so the staff ask that if you have ordered food that you please wait in your vehicle to ensure that we keep this area open for our drivers. Thankyou (sic) Everyone for your support, have an amazing day.”
Yet, #IStandWithTruckies is now the top trending hashtag in the country. While the struggle of the mythical humble trucker is something that needs to be seriously addressed, and yes, many on the road are furious, and have found meaning in unifying behind a shadowy controlling figure that may or may not exist, having this other element piggyback our crusade will not enable change. In fact, it will mean the opposite will become true. As many on the road see themselves as ostracised, forgotten or outside the national conversation, standing alongside these conspiratorial elements will see us tarred with the same brush, and see our worst fears come to pass.
From there, the path is clear. Those who didn’t particularly believe in these theories may now believe, as those uniformly banned as “COVIDIdiots” may seek a new audience, those who don’t judge.
All I can offer is what I’ve heard from these one-way conversations on the road. Many are angry, scared and paranoid. If there’s a figure to unite against, one who allegedly enabled a once-in-a-century crisis we’re forced to navigate, doing something feels better than doing nothing.
Therefore, this starts to make sense.
— 💧Mark Yelich 🇺🇸🇦🇺🐸 (@mjelic) August 22, 2021
This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.
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