Uproar over learner driver testing shutdown at Gawler

Disgruntled over final driver testing pulled at Gawler is instructor Keith Scott, learner drivers Dennis Power and Jordan Potter, instructors John Ellis and Keith Scott with Light MP Tony Piccolo.
Disgruntled over final driver testing pulled at Gawler is instructor Keith Scott, learner drivers Dennis Power and Jordan Potter, instructors John Ellis and Keith Scott with Light MP Tony Piccolo.

Regional parents, learner drivers and driving instructors are outraged by a Marshall Liberal Government decision to close learner driver testing in Gawler this Thursday.

According to Light MP Tony Piccolo, without any consultation with the relevant industry associations or the general community, the State Government notified driving instructors that four SA testing locations would be closed, which includes Gawler.

This change means learner drivers would have no option but to attend other centres to undertake their final testing.

Driving instructor Joe Bombardieri, of Coast Along Driver Training, has described how the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure's (DPTI's) decision to cancel the Vehicle On Road Test (VORT) route in Gawler and other locations, has occurred for reasons unknown to himself and other driving instructors, including the peak body: Australian Driver Trainers Association of SA.

"Without any consultation with key stakeholders, DPTI has decided to cancel the VORT examinations, as well as the Final Drive via Log Book, in Gawler," Mr Bombardieri explained.

"This means you can no longer be tested to obtain your Provisional Licence in Gawler.

"This not only inconveniences driving instructors but students and parents in the Gawler region, as well.

"I will now have to travel an additional 50-minutes to perform each driving test in Elizabeth, time that could be spent with other clients," he added.

Mr Piccolo has since received a "barrage of complaints" about the closure of the Gawler service from angry parents, learner drivers and driving instructors.

"This decision represents another broken promise by the Marshall Liberal Government, which will reduce the incomes of driving instructors and increase the cost to parents and young learner drivers," he said.

"The fact the decision was made without any consultation just smacks of arrogance and shows that Mr Marshall cannot be trusted."

John Ellis, another country driving instructor, said the decision will have a negative impact on school-aged student learner drivers, who'll be forced to miss more class time to accommodate driver testing, as well as having a negative impact on his earning capacity.

"This decision will cost my small business in lost income, as I will now undertake less driving sessions and the cost of driver testing will increase," Mr Ellis explained.

"It is going to hurt many small businesses like mine."

Mr Piccolo has since written to Transport Minister Stephan Knoll, asking for explanations for the testing route's closure and the absence of stakeholder consultation.

"Small businesses, parents and our young people deserve better than this," Mr Piccolo said.

"I intend to raise this matter in State Parliament and to do so until the Minister reverses this appalling decision, which will hurt local people."

An industry association spokesperson said clients who live in country areas close to Gawler - such as Kapunda, Balaklava, Mallala, and Sandy Creek - will be impacted.

"In most instances, clients are already driving 30-60 minutes to get to Gawler. If the Gawler driver testing route is closed, the travelling time inconvenience and financial cost will be even greater," the spokesperson said.