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Russell 'Mad Dog' Cox due for release

Russell 'Mad Dog' Cox due for release

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

MAXINE McKEW: Well, first tonight, an insight into the life and crimes of one of Australia's most
controversial fugitives.

Soon after 9:00am tomorrow morning, Russell 'Mad Dog' Cox will emerge a free man from Grafton Jail
in northern New South Wales.

His escapades in the 1970s and 1980s made him a hero in the underworld, but put him at the top of
the police wanted list.

Cox's reputation with his peers soared when he escaped from the notorious Katingal, the maximum
security arm of Long Bay Jail, which was eventually shut down after a long public campaign.

There's also surprising support for Russell Cox from a prison officer he could easily have killed
during an attempted jailbreak almost 30 years ago.

Tracy Bowden reports.

STEVE BARRETT, JOURNALIST: Russell Cox was one of the biggest stories in Australia.

He was public enemy No.

1 for many years.

TRACY BOWDEN: He was born Melville Peter Schnitzerling - a more likely moniker for a bank clerk
than a bank robber, but he became a household name as Russell 'Mad Dog' Cox.

BERNIE MATTHEWS: The media and police officers dubbed him 'Mad Dog' which was a misnomer.

He wasn't mad.

The guys that knew him in Katingal and Grafton dubbed him 'The Fox' because he was a cunning bloke.

He had his wits about him.

He was a pretty smart man.

KEVIN PARSONS, FORMER OFFICER IN CHARGE, NSW ARMED HOLD-UP SQUAD: I don't consider him being
clever.

I just consider him to be a dangerous criminal.

TRACY BOWDEN: In 1975 while serving a sentence for armed robbery, Russell Cox and two other inmates
launched a daring escape bid at Sydney's Long Bay Jail.

The offenders fired shots, taking prison officers hostage inside the gatehouse.

One of those officers, Steve Tandy, describes it as the most terrifying event in his long career.

SUPERINTENDENT STEVE TANDY, NSW CORRECTIVE SERVICES: I was then forced to the floor in the gate
office area.

A gun was eventually put at the back of my head.

I was ordered to face the ground.

TRACY BOWDEN: And what thoughts were going through your mind?

SUPERINTENDENT STEVE TANDY: Ah, well, I was of the opinion that myself or other colleagues would be
shot.

TRACY BOWDEN: That escape attempt failed, but it ensured Superintendent Steve Tandy, then 25, was
unlikely to forget Russell Cox.

SUPERINTENDENT STEVE TANDY: It's always in your mind, but I don't have - let's use the phrase, I
don't have nightmares or think about it too often.

But it's there, yes, how easy your life could have been snuffed out.

TRACY BOWDEN: Russell Cox was sentenced to life imprisonment over that incident and ended up in
Katingal, designed to house the worst of the worst in New South Wales.

BERNIE MATTHEWS: It was like living in an atomic bomb shelter or living in a submarine.

The longest distance you could walk in a straight line was 19 paces.

There was no fresh air - all the air was pumped in.

There was no natural light.

TRACY BOWDEN: Bernie Matthews is now a journalist, but during the 1970s he served time for armed
robbery and prison escapes and was in Katingal with Russell Cox.

BERNIE MATTHEWS: He wasn't a standover man.

He wasn't one of these guys that wanted to make a reputation, you know, from belting other people
or being violent.

He was, to put it quite succinctly, he was a bank robber, he came to jail and he tried to escape.

TRACY BOWDEN: In 1977, Russell Cox became the only prisoner ever to escape from Katingal after
using a smuggled-in hacksaw blade to saw through bars in the jail's exercise area.

STEVE BARRETT: At that stage the Government was boasting that nobody would penetrate the system.

Nobody could get in and nobody could get out.

Russell Cox did that and that's what made him stand out from the other criminals.

TRACY BOWDEN: Veteran crime report Steve Barrett spent many hours writing about the hunt for
Russell Cox.

STEVE BARRETT: As a reporter, covering police rounds, whether it be television, print or radio,
Russell Cox, for many, many years, was the Number 1 story - "Where is he?"

TRACY BOWDEN: Not only did Russell Cox escape from Katingal, he was on the run for almost 11 years.

BERNIE MATTHEWS: The general, I think, situation, was good luck to him.

Good luck to him, you know, that he was able to last that long.

TRACY BOWDEN: That certainly wasn't a view shared by former detective Kevin Parsons.

He was the head of the NSW Armed Hold-up Squad as it continued its efforts to close in on Russell
Cox.

KEVIN PARSONS: But the difficulty arose to a high degree that he was known to alter his appearance
on regular occasions, and even though photographs were obtained of him, I think most of the
photographs altered in a number of different ways because of the way that he changed his
appearance.

STEVE BARRETT: He became sort of, like, a detective's prize, if you like.

"Who is the detective that's going to nail Russell Cox?"

NEWS FILE (1988): The two prize catches, criminals Cox and Denning were taken into custody just
before 2 o'clock this afternoon.

TRACY BOWDEN: Russell Cox was finally recaptured during an attempted payroll van robbery in
Melbourne in 1988.

He was captured with partner-in-crime, Raymond Denning.

KEVIN PARSONS: There was a great deal of satisfaction because of the number of hours that had been
spent on trying to locate him and apprehend him.

TRACY BOWDEN: According to Steve Barrett, it was one of Russell Cox's own - fellow criminal Raymond
Denning - who ultimately led police to the fugitive.

STEVE BARRETT: Raymond Denning flipped and turned police informer.

From there, some sort of deal was worked and Denning was released and then he teamed up again with
Russell Cox, which, not long after that, led to the spectacular arrest in Melbourne.

TRACY BOWDEN: Now Russell Cox is about to be released on parole with his minimum life sentence of
29 years and 4 months expiring today.

One of those who supports parole is a man who has every right to despise the criminal, prison
superintendent Steve Tandy.

SUPERINTENDENT STEVE TANDY: Initially, or I suppose for a few years thereafter, he wasn't on my
Christmas card list, but after a while, you know, you think what good is continuing the, you know,
the dislike or whichever way you like to put it.

I've seen him three or four times over the six-monthly periods we review them and there is
certainly no animosity left in me, anyway, and I certainly don't think he harbours any grudge
towards me.

TRACY BOWDEN: In making its decision, the Parole Board heard evidence that Russell Cox had been a
keen participant in prison programs to deter young offenders from a life of crime.

According to the Board - "However, in the case of the inmate Russell Cox, there is powerful
evidence that he is intent on leading a normal, lawful, community life."

But not everyone is convinced.

What do you forecast?

Can a leopard change its spots?

KEVIN PARSONS: I don't know about calling him a leopard.

I think he's just the one colour.

TRACY BOWDEN: Which would be?

KEVIN PARSONS: Very dark.

TRACY BOWDEN: Russell Cox is due to be released from Grafton jail tomorrow morning and plans to
live in Queensland.

STEVE BARRETT: Russell Cox has got two chances.

He has one chance to make it on the outside.

If he blows that chance, the only other chance he has in life is to die in prison.

It's as simple as that.

TRACY BOWDEN: Do you think he's dangerous?

SUPERINTENDENT STEVE TANDY: No.

If I had any doubts about him re-offending, I would have opposed release to parole - simple as
that.

I just think he's had enough and he deserves a go.

MAXINE McKEW: Tracy Bowden reporting there.

Labor, Latham and leadership

Labor, Latham and leadership

Reporter: Michael Brissenden

MAXINE McKEW: Despite some predictions to the contrary Mark Latham will see out this year as leader
of the Labor Party, but his future still hangs in the balance.

The Federal Labor Caucus held its final meeting for the year today and the leader urged Labor
members to use the Christmas break to rest and recharge the batteries.

But some Caucus members will also be using the time to reflect on Latham's leadership and some
expect the New Year will not be any easier.

In the meantime, the business of Opposition continues.

And today Labor scored some hits against the Government, accusing the Minister for Veterans'
Affairs, De-Anne Kelly, of exceeding her ministerial authority and also questioning the ability of
the new Speaker.

Political editor Michael Brissenden reports.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: For a politician, Mark Latham knows a thing or two about books.

Well, he should, anyway.

He's written a few himself and he's been the subject of half a dozen as well.

If the Mark Latham phenomena was all due to publishing, he'd be PM by now, for sure.

He's well read and he's no doubt a discerning reader.

He's a man who knows what he likes and today he launched one that fitted the bill - a book that, as
he pointed out, finally included more than his name on the roll call of those responsible for
Labor's election loss.

MARK LATHAM, OPPOSITION LEADER: Recently a party elder said to me that the history of the 2004
election would be written in books rather than in newspaper articles.

He said the history wouldn't be written in newspaper articles, it would be written by authors and
recorded in a great number of books.

Well, thank goodness for that.

You can imagine my relief to learn that future historians and political science students will be
able to study something more substantial than a long series of anonymous quotes.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, maybe, but the trouble for the Labor leader is that the anonymous quoters
are still out there quoting hard and some of them, as we saw last weekend, have started to come out
of the shadows as well.

The speculation about Mark Latham's leadership has been intense and continues that way, albeit
without any real direction.

It is clearly a reflection of the mood of the party after the election defeat and what many see as
the inability of Mark Latham to take advice or be sufficiently contrite in the weeks that have
followed.

Many in the party sheet the blame for the loss home to Mark Latham, and, in particular, what has
been described as his autocratic style.

In his new book, Mungo McCallum, the veteran political commentator, has largely laid the blame
elsewhere.

It's John Howard and, just as importantly, the media.

No wonder Mr Latham was happy to launch it.

MARK LATHAM: At last, from my perspective, we have something that breaks the gloom and doom for the
Labor Party and it's so entertaining I've immediately placed it on the Christmas list for the
Caucus members for the coming festive season.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Labor Caucus, though, will probably be spending more time reading the tea
leaves over the summer break.

Some of the aforementioned anonymous whisperers are still warning that Mark Latham's grip on the
leadership is tenuous with some even suggesting he'll be gone before the May budget session.

But if you think the fall has been fast, think again.

Old hands like Mungo MacCallum reckon he's lucky he's at least in the Labor Party.

MUNGO MacCALLUM, AUTHOR: It's the Libs who are ruthless.

If a Liberal leaders lose an election, "Well, buddy, that's it.

Off!"

Labor leaders tend to get a second chance.

I think, on the whole, it's worked.

People like Whitlam who lost an election before he won one and perhaps perhaps people like Latham
can do the same.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But it seems there are as many opinions about Mark Latham as there are books.

And everyone's got a view about the past as well as the future.

Another tome out this week is from the Fabian Society, the intellectual true believers - a
collection of essays titled 'After the Deluge: Rebuilding Labor and the Progressive Movement.' The
contributors say internal reform is urgent and some of them find it hard to see Mark Latham as the
man to drive it.

DR NIC ECONOMOU, POLITICS, MONASH UNIVERSITY: The combination of poor polling, residual bitterness
about the election, the fragmentation of the factional system, the fact that Mr Latham operates by
dividing people rather than uniting them, makes me feel that he really does not have long to go as
leader.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: So history is an imprecise science, particularly for those who write it.

Often for the players, though, it's not.

Leadership votes, after periods of instability like this, are usually brutally black and white.

Mark Latham has a hard road ahead if he's to survive and, since the poll, he's had few
opportunities to score political points.

Today, the Government delivered him a gift.

MARK LATHAM: We've been raising legitimate questions about the SONA secret slush fund and surely it
gets to the point of a legitimate question under extraordinary circumstances as to how Minister
Kelly in Veterans' Affairs is still dispensing the pork, how Minister Kelly is still rolling out
the barrel.

SPEAKER: Order!

Order!

The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Since Parliament resumed just a week and a half ago, Labor has had only two
things going for it - a new Speaker struggling to control the House and some big questions raised
about the Government's Regional Partnerships Program.

The Opposition claims the program has been abused by the National Party to prop up its vote in
regional Australia.

Today, the Opposition produced a letter from the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, De-Anne Kelly,
announcing the funding of a regional partnerships project.

Before the election she was the Parliamentary Secretary to John Anderson.

Now, she's the Minister for Veterans Affairs.

"What's going on?"

Mark Latham asked.

MARK LATHAM: Mr Speaker, respectfully, every single Australian taxpayer would want to know why the
Minister for Veterans' Affairs, five weeks after she's been sworn into that position, is dispensing
money for another department, the Department of Transport and Regional Services.

What is going on with the Howard Government?

What is going on?

What's going to be the next practice?

We'll have the Minister for Education purchasing aircraft carriers.

We'll have the Minister for Health purchasing tanks.

SPEAKER: Order!

Will the Leader of the Opposition resume his seat?

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Speaker ruled Labor's question out of order, the House descended into
uproar, Labor launched its second dissenting motion against the Speaker in two weeks and Parliament
was a shambles.

De-Anne Kelly claimed it was an administrative error.

DE-ANNE KELLY, VETERANS' AFFAIRS MINISTER: This letter was mislaid and a departmental liaison
officer foud it last week, date stamped it and posted it last Thursday.

SPEAKER: The Minister will resume her seat.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But the questions about the Regional Partnerships Program continue to grow.

Mark Latham might yet get a scalp, but will it save his own?

Mr Latham hopes everyone in the Labor Caucus will go home and reflect on the disunity that's
tearing down his leadership and dragging down the polls.

"Disunity is death," he says.

Haven't we been here before?

SIMON CREAN, NOVEMBER 28, 2003, OPPOSITION LEADER: Don't let your personal ambition cripple the
Labor Party as it puts its case for a fairer and better Australia.

Select a new leader on Tuesday and stick with him or her.

Don't put a revolving door on the entrance of the Opposition Leader's office.

That door only leads to permanent opposition.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And remember that was only just over a year ago.

Today was the last Caucus meeting of the year and despite a few stern words from the leader, there
was little Christmas cheer in the air when it was over.

In the Labor Party, there's a sense of desperation setting in about the future.

The big trouble for Mark Latham is the door is spinning again and he may not be able to stop it.

MAXINE McKEW: Political editor Michael Brissenden.

Indigenous Council head speaks out

Indigenous Council head speaks out

Reporter: Mick O'Donnell

MAXINE McKEW: And still Canberra - tomorrow, the Federal Government's 14 hand-picked Aboriginal
affairs advisers will gather for the first time.

The National Indigenous Council is part of the Federal Government's plan to remove the troubled
elected body, ATSIC.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone has opted this time for an appointed body and
the membership of the new council has attracted its share of criticism.

The new head is Sue Gordon - the Perth magistrate who believes that Indigenous communities must
embrace a fresh approach based on personal responsibility and discipline.

In this profile from Mick O'Donnell, she hits back at her critics.

MICK O'DONNELL: Like many fair-skinned Aboriginal children in the 1940s, Sue Gordon was taken from
her family in outback WA at the age of four.

SUE GORDON, CHAIR, NATIONAL INDIGENOUS COUNCIL: It sounds like something from a country and
western, but I was put on the midnight train from Meekatharra to Perth.

At four, I don't have any memory of it.

MICK O'DONNELL: Though she was raised with hundreds of others like her at Sister Kate's Orphanage
in Perth, Sue Gordon does not present herself as a victim of the assimilationist policies of the
time.

So do you think of yourself as a stolen child?

SUE GORDON: No, no.

I mean, I just say I was taken away from my mother.

MICK O'DONNELL: SUE GORDON: But obviously -

Depends how emotional you want to be about the whole thing.

I can say I'm stolen, but it's all afterthoughts.

MICK O'DONNELL: While some of those removed still seek an apology from the Federal Government, Sue
Gordon has agreed to become its adviser, chairing the new National Indigenous Council.

But you won't demand an apology from Mr Howard?

SUE GORDON: No.

I personally didn't want an apology because it should have gone to my mother.

But my mother's passed away now, so it's too late.

And what's an apology going to achieve now?

If you didn't do well at school, you went out as a domestic.

We were sent out every school holidays to work for people.

MICK O'DONNELL: Here at Balga High School in Perth, Sue Gordon tells young Aboriginal girls about
the discipline she learnt from a tough upbringing.

She explains she joined the army to avoid the drudgery of working as a domestic for a white family
in Perth's wealthy suburbs.

GIRL: The discipline in the army, did you like it or was it hard on you?

SUE GORDON: It was dead easy.

I'd been brought up in an institution for 15 years, having to work in the kitchen every day, having
to do jobs before and after school.

MICK O'DONNELL: It wasn't until 30 years after being taken from her family that Sue Gordon
discovered she was not the orphan she'd been told she was.

So you went from a family of three?

SUE GORDON: Three to mobs.

And my mum and I just shook hands because I think it was too emotional for her and I.

And I think that's when all that modern terminology - post-traumatic stress, all of that kicked in
and I sort of - I was very angry, I think.

MICK O'DONNELL: These two central experiences - her removal from and her return to her people -
have driven Sue Gordon through a life of public service, eventually becoming WA's first Aboriginal
magistrate in the Children's Court.

SUE GORDON: I decided, after my youngest finished his law degree, when I turned 50 that I would
apply to go to university to do a Bachelor of Laws.

MICK O'DONNELL: Today, after 16 years as a magistrate, Sue Gordon is in high demand as a public
speaker, her talks always peppered with ideas of responsibility.

SUE GORDON: When I was at university, I saw some Aboriginal people waste that chance.

I saw mature-age Aboriginal people at the tavern with the white kids.

MICK O'DONNELL: Two years ago, Sue Gordon saw the searing results of a breakdown in community
responsibility when she chaired the WA Government's inquiry into Aboriginal family violence and
child abuse.

SUE GORDON: We just found it was endemic in Aboriginal communities.

MICK O'DONNELL: The Gordon inquiry helped bring a sea change in political attitudes - from the
rhetoric of rights to responsibilities and the demise of the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Commission, ATSIC.

SUE GORDON: But it was all overshadowed by Geoff Clark, the chairperson's personal life and court
matters.

What about the plight of Aboriginal people on the ground?

What about the mental health problems, the health, the education?

They obviously weren't discussed.

They were too busy fighting about who said who's a rapist.

MICK O'DONNELL: Still fighting the Federal Government's plans to disband ATSIC, its commissioners
have bitterly attacked the appointment of Sue Gordon and the National Indigenous Council.

GEOFF CLARK, CHAIR, ATSIC: This puts Aboriginal affairs back 30 or 40 years.

The fact that he doesn't not just want to get rid of ATSIC, the democratically elected people, this
Prime Minister and his government want to put Aboriginal affairs off the face of Australian
politics.

LIONEL QUARTERMAINE, DEPUTY CHAIR, ATSIC: I call them children of Satan because they've sold their
soul to the Prime Minister.

MICK O'DONNELL: Even former footballer Michael Long, who staged his celebrated walk from Melbourne
to see the Prime Minister last week, refused to endorse Sue Gordon and the National Indigenous
Council.

The central criticism of the appointment of yourself and the other members of the National
Indigenous Council is that you're hand-picked, therefore you're really just people will say back to
Government what the Government wants to hear.

SUE GORDON: Well, Michael Long actually criticised us before the walk, saying that he'd been asked
to sit on the council, but he didn't want - that he'd be a sell-out.

Michael was calling for Aboriginal leaders such as Pat Dodson and Mick Dodson, who are actually
self-appointed leaders, to be listened to.

They're not elected either.

MICK O'DONNELL: The Dodson brothers have long been critics of the Howard Government.

But over the weekend, with Cape York activist Noel Pearson, they've stolen the thunder of Sue
Gordon's National Indigenous Council before it's even met.

SUE GORDON: I'm confident that Aboriginal people do want to get out of the mould.

It's just that they've been stifled by the regimes that have been in place, ie, ATSIC.

MICK O'DONNELL: Sue Gordon's first major public appearance, after being named the top adviser to
government on Aboriginal affairs, was to endorse an innovative alliance between Aboriginal
enterprise and big business.

It's not often you see the head of a multinational dancing with Aboriginal songmen.

SUE GORDON: The Songman Protocol provides a mechanism for Aboriginal people's knowledge to be
considered when the natural environment is being used for commercial gain.

MICK O'DONNELL: This alliance between Aveda, an Estee Lauder skincare company, and communities
which collect sandalwood in WA is a world first, endorsed by the UN as a model for sustainable
commerce between indigenous groups and business.

SUE GORDON: I now launch the Songman Circle of Wisdom Protocol for Business and Aboriginal people.

MICK O'DONNELL: While she doesn't trumpet her views on many issues, Sue Gordon did give some hints
to the 7.30 Report.

On the WA Government shutting down a dysfunctional community -

SUE GORDON: Do you close every community down?

MICK O'DONNELL: Shifting the problem?

SUE GORDON: Probably.

MICK O'DONNELL: On the WA Government plan to fine parents of out-of-control kids -

SUE GORDON: It's just a huge area, Whether you can say we're becoming a nanny state or are we not?

It could prove costly for some parents who are not in a position to pay any more.

MICK O'DONNELL: On sending kids in remote communities to boarding school -

SUE GORDON: Often if kids aren't given that opportunity, then they can't make a choice later in
life.

MICK O'DONNELL: Defiant of all efforts to pigeonhole her, the new chair of the National Indigenous
Council is determined to show she's nobody's mouthpiece.

Well, are you conservative?

SUE GORDON: That's not for you to know.

It's my business, isn't it, how I vote?

MICK O'DONNELL: Well, are you a token?

SUE GORDON: I'm certainly not a token.

I don't have time to be a token.

I've got too many other things on my plate.

I plan to make this work.

New explanation for truck driver fatigue

New explanation for truck driver fatigue

Reporter: Mary Gearin

MAXINE McKEW: Well, with the Christmas holidays almost upon us, it's a time for enjoyment and for
staying alert, particularly on those long drives to holiday destinations.

Fatigue is a problem that all drivers need to be conscious of, but it's potentially fatal for truck
drivers, despite regulations intended to prevent them from being pushed beyond the limit of
concentration.

Now, in what's being touted as a world first, Melbourne researchers say they've established that
the vibrations experienced on long trips could be like rocking drivers to sleep, just like babies.

Mary Gearin reports.

MARY GEARIN: It's simply too hard to tell how much fatigue plays a part in fatalities and injuries
on Australian roads.

Some studies say tiredness has been a factor in up to 40 per cent of all deaths involving trucks.

If you count lapses in concentration, the estimates soar.

Lawrie Melville now drives a truck for Melbourne's Swinburne University, but a year ago, he quit
his job as a truckie for employers he calls 'unscrupulous' who, he says, pushed him to drive for up
to 36 hours without sleep.

You took drugs?

LAWRIE MELVILLE, TRUCK DRIVER: Yeah, yeah.

Had to.

On some occasions it was a necessity.

It was either take something to stay awake or die.

MARY GEARIN: Rob Hill counts himself lucky, working for what he calls one of the few good guys in
the industry, with generous rosters and speed limiters in the trucks, but he still sees plenty of
cowboys on the road.

ROB HILL, TRUCK DRIVER: Every night on the road, guys who shouldn't be out there, they're tired and
you will hear other truck drivers warn them over the radios now, "Get off the road.

Have a sleep."

MARY GEARIN: Entrenched exploitative industry cultures could take decades to overcome, but
Melbourne researchers have begun to study one factor in driver fatigue they hope they can change.

Swinburne University last year began what's thought to be the first study to measure the cognitive
effects of low-level vibrations on a driver, not the jarring bumps, but more gentle monotonous
undulations, at 4 hertz, to be precise.

DR JOHN PATTERSON, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY: We have anecdotal evidence that if you are
vibrated in certain ways, you tend to relax.

We have rocking chairs - we rock babies to sleep.

So, on a boat or bus or train you tend to relax.

We don't know whether that's a coincidence or whether it's almost predetermined by the vibration
that you're exposed to.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR KERRY McMANUS, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY: There is anecdotal
information of a truck driver - I think it was in Arizona or one of the American Midwest states -
who was measured over eight hours of performance.

Over eight hours, he was literally asleep for 20 minutes, not for 20 minutes in one time, but for
short bursts of sleep and we think that's an indication of this type of reactions occurring in the
brain.

It's switching the brain off.

MARY GEARIN: 42 students and staff members were asked to perform a cognitive test before, during
and after sitting through vibrations in a truckie's chair for 10 minutes.

GABRIELLE COLLANDER, EXPERIMENT SUBJECT: Definitely tired out like the back of my legs and my lower
back, that sort of thing.

Sort of just really getting a bit drowsy sitting there for a fair while, especially while
concentrating as well.

MARY GEARIN: A year on and John Patterson says he has interesting results.

Firstly, the experiment seems to confirm his basic proposition.

DR JOHN PATTERSON: Change in moods or emotions was always in the direction of latitude, fatigue,
tiredness, sort of boredom, being turned off.

MARY GEARIN: More worrying was the change in reaction time for subjects who made a mistake while in
the vibrating chair.

DR JOHN PATTERSON: It's a fair extrapolation, but what it would mean is if a person was driving the
truck, for example, and if the seat was bouncing in the same frequency that we looked at, the
person, if they were indecisive about an issue, maybe distracted momentarily, instead of reacting
fairly quickly, their reactions will slow down significantly, such that the truck may travel an
extra 3m, 4m along the road in that period of being distracted.

MARY GEARIN: The researchers were also able to locate exactly which parts of the brain were
affected by changes in the frequency and they detected a change in the heart rate that would
normally suggest stress, even though the subjects didn't report feeling stressed.

The study raises a challenge for engineers.

Modern truck seats have become sophisticated buffers against more dramatic shocks from the road.

ROB HILL: A lot of the seats now are air-suspended and they are very comfortable.

It's like sitting in an arm chair basically without the arms.

MARY GEARIN: But more attention could be needed to combat the subtle pulse of the road and its
stealthy injuries.

DR JOHN PATTERSON: I don't think they've appreciated the impact of these sorts of vibrations at the
lower end.

They've been more concerned about obvious driver comfort rather than the sort of subtle effects of
driver attention and so forth.

MARY GEARIN: The Swinburne researchers hope their eventual recommendations regarding seat design
could help keep drivers awake, but Rob Hill believes it's also essential to recalibrate the
prevailing industry culture that urges drivers to push through the sleep barrier.

ROB HILL: The older blokes, not so much.

The young ones, yes.

As you see the younger ones coming through, you hear more and more, "I can do this, I did that,"
and that is a worry.