Published on September 4th, 2013 | by Chris Skelton
ABOUT THIS FRONT NUMBER PLATE SHIT…
“Please rise for the Honourable Denis Napthine!”
Applause thundered from the crowd, as Victoria’s greatest son and last hope approached the podium in the packed auditorium for the TAC-sponsored “Leave Scared: Arrive Alive” Road Safety Forum.
“My there are a lot of you, ” he smiled.
And there were. For many motorists were there to hear the latest news in the glorious fight against carnage, tragedy, devastation, and other adjectives absent any context.
Journalists scribbled furiously on their iNotebookpadpaperscreens amidst the cheers, mothers clutched babies who they hoped one day might have to do three thousand hours of supervised driving before they were allowed behind the wheel of a diesel Nissan Micra, and men wept tears of relief that they might no longer be required to have basic mechanical knowledge to be respected by their peers – as knowing the difference between a spark plug and a fan belt, is information you only need if you’re a hoon/murderer.
“Save us!” a young woman screamed, as she adjusted the seat-belt on her plastic chair to make it tighter and less comfortable.
“Alright, alright,” Denis beamed at the crowd. “Everybody settle down. I know we’re excited. We have a lot to get through.”
A small blue-jay fluttered in from the door. Landed on his outstretched hand, and warbled a short respectful and moving tune. Everyone awww’ed and felt thoroughly reassured about the state of the universe and its contents.
Chuckling, our hero began his introduction.
“Friends and constituents,” (who were of course the only types in the room, thanks to a strict screening process), “I am here today, to unveil the next revolutionary step in IMPROVING ROAD SAFETY.”
“Improving road safety” the crowd lowly echoed.
“As you well know, we are facing a new year of AUTOMAGGEDON!”
A journalist quickly messaged this new and clever buzz-word back to the office before anyone else, and Rupert Murdoch placed a Mintie on his desk.
“I recently engaged Monash University to perform a special audit of our enforcement measures, and the results I requested clearly show that many motorists are flouting our good laws regarding speeding anytime they are not in view of a camera! FLOUTING, I say! The results I bought demonstrate a clear and present need for additional investment into enforcement measures through private companies my cousin owns shares in.”
The crowd roared with approval, and everyone pretended they didn’t hear that last bit.
“Mr Napthine, sir. May I get a copy of these study results for my article?”
A journalist interrupted from the front row.
“Not at this time,” said Sir Denis, and gave the signal for security to have the journalist’s car confiscated for doing 11km/h in the 10km/h car park.
“So,” he continued, “Beginning 1st July, we will be utilizing air-borne cameras and all cars, buses and trucks will be required to have a large copy of their number plate painted on the roof of the vehicle!” He smiled and spread his arms wide in a symbol of generosity, as the sheer excellence of his solution warranted deep and sincere thanks from the audience.
There was silence.
They must be stunned by my brilliance, thought Denis. This is great.
“This will help our new, expensive cameras quickly pay for themselves and turn a profit by covering great areas, far away from the black spot zones!” he elaborated.
“Ummm,” a nervous hand rose from the audience. “I have a question.”
“I assure you, I came up with this fantastic idea all on my own. Amazing isn’t it?” Denis quipped.
“Ahh well, that wasn’t my question. It’s just, who is going to pay for the painting to be done?”
Slightly irritated by the question, Denis responded, “Look, the charge will be built into the cost of registration, and my best analysts have assured me the amount will be between $50 and $900. That I can promise you.”
“Ahhh, I’m not sure that’s fair, Sir Denis, sir. We already pay a lot for rego. Far more than QLD. Why does their system cost the users so much less?”
“Listen, pal.” Slightly more irritated now. “If the QLDers want to drive rust-buckets into packed cafes, with zero consequences and no compensation for the families of freshly crippled, blonde children, that’s their business. We deserve better. Moving on. Ahh yes, a question over there?”
“Yeah hi, I drive a wagon that has roof-racks. What am I supposed to do with my roof racks?”
“Obscuring or covering a number plate is an offence and may result in fines and demerit points.”
“Perhaps you could get a sign for the top of your roof racks or whatever you are carrying up there that has your rego painted on top,” Denis offered, helpfully.
“So a bunch of people driving around with large homemade signs, crappily attached to vehicles travelling at all sorts of speed will make us safer in the long-run somehow?”
“Now you’re getting it! Anyone else need help understanding my revolutionary new changes?”
A man stood.
“I drive a convertible. Somehow I don’t think the new system is going to work with my vehicle.”
“Fear not, citizen.” spake The D-Man, “Stitch-on letters will work on your cars canopy, so that you can comply with the new legislation. You will be able to drive with the top down when you pay to use your nearest private race track.”
“That’s stuffed! I bought a car that I can legally drive on the road perfectly safely, and now you’re changing the rules to make my investment useless!”
“Good sir! This is about safety! Do you think little Timmy is going to have the luxury of wind rushing through his hair like he’s in a convertible when he is struck in a school zone by a speeding hoon? No, no wind through his hair. Just blood. Lots of blood. You selfish monster.”
The crowd grew restless.
There was grumbling.
The CEO of a large, large private company levered himself up out of his chair.
“Sir Denis, you and I have always seen eye-to-eye on a number of things. Powers for police to interrogate minors alone, fines for homeless people, and forced organ donation from criminals serving life sentences… but I have a new Lamborghini Gallardo with a custom, flake metallic paint job, and if you think I’m going to let some apprentice house-painter slather the roof of my vehicle with government lettering, then you better also think about where your campaign funds are going to come from next term.
And I hardly think these good people should suffer after the fact; just because you bought the wrong cameras, or put the right cameras in the wrong spot, or both!”
Murmurs of agreement swept through the audience.
Denis was losing them.
He had to do something fast.
An aide from his office rushed up on stage and whispered something in his ear.
Mr Napthine quickly smiled in relief.
“Everyone! I’m sorry but I’ve just been informed of a miscommunication on this issue. We’re not putting extra number plates on cars. We’re putting them on motorcycles.”
“Oooooh,” sighed the collective. This was far less serious, as it did not affect them very much at all.
But there was one journalist left who was not very good at following instructions or staying quiet, as he was bitten by a radioactive toddler 3 years ago. Super Journo was confused by this backflip:
“Well, shouldn’t you be consulting with a bunch of motorcyclists, then?”
Denis paused for thought-
“Why would we start doing that?”