Raising the BARR – Week ending 9 September 2016

Raising the Barr

Driverless Cars – Winners and Losers

I can’t tell you how excited I am by driverless cars. Imagine being able to climb into the car at home, head off to work and read a book, do some work on the computer or even have a sleep while the car takes you there. How good would that be! This is not even to mention the fact that there would be no fines for speeding, no crashes on the road, no road rage and all other manner of road problems. Our Police would be freed up to do other work, our ambulances and hospital emergency wards would see a rapid decline in their workload and agencies that offer rehabilitation for road accident victims could just about shut their doors. Overall, our society will be more healthy and free of road accident based injuries. Woohoo!

But on the downside, tens of thousands of driving jobs will disappear from here in NSW. Trucks will take themselves automatically from A to B. Taxis will arrive at your door without a driver and take you wherever you want to go. Tow truck and smash repair businesses will become obsolete. I am confident that my children’s children won’t need to learn to drive, won’t need a driver’s licence and all of the jobs that go along with that, including driving instructor jobs, will be gone. Delivery vans will arrive at your door without a driver and mining trucks will move the rocks without a person in the cabin.

I hear you saying “that’s pie in the sky” and “this is all years away”. Well, right now, in Pittsburgh USA, they are trialling driverless taxis. You don’t actually call the cab. Instead you plug into your smartphone your pick-up and drop-off details. It turns up, there is no driver, and it takes you, without a driver, to your destination. You get out. Your credit card is charged the fee. The cab moves on to the next job. That’s happening right now. Today, there is an almost identical experiment in a Singapore Business Park. In the Silicon Valley this has all been happening for years. I am predicting that in the coming 5-10 years we will see cars driving themselves along main highways, like the M1, albeit with a person sitting in the driver’s seat and the car still having a steering wheel. The difference will be, the person in the driver’s seat might be reading a book or taking a nap – ready to re-take control once the highway is exited.

Local Elections – My Prediction was Wrong

When you’re wrong, you are wrong. Own up to it. I am about to. Over the past 6 months I have publicly said that I thought it “impossible” that the September 2016 Local Councils Elections would go ahead. I just couldn’t imagine, in my own mind, the idea that half of the state would vote for local Councils and half wouldn’t. But, as you all know, over these past few weeks we have had a local Council election campaign and voting. I got it wrong. Mind you, the logic in my head still screams “madness!” at me, but what is done it done.

On that note I want to thank and congratulate the Councillors from the past 4 years. They have steadied the ship. When I arrived as local State Member in March 2011, at least half of the community complaints that walked in my office door, every day, were local council issues – over which I have no control, power or authority. That continued up until late 2012/early 2013. Sometime in 2013 these complaints slowed down and then eventually became a trickle. I have no doubt that the steady hand of the 12 elected Councillors and Mayor Pynsent were the silent force behind the broader satisfaction of the community. Well done to all 13 Councillors of that time. And good luck to the incoming Councillors.

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For enquiries regarding the State Government or its departments, or to put you in contact with someone who can, please contact my office.  My office can be contacted by phoning 4991-1466, by email to cessnock@parliament.nsw.gov.au or call into 118 Vincent Street (PO Box 242), Cessnock 2325. 

You also follow me on my Facebook page “www.facebook.com/claytonbarrmp”, go to Twitter and search @claytonbarrmp or check out my website at www.claytonbarr.com.au

Cheers Clayton