Should attention-seeking journos face ‘menace’ tax?

Published: May 26, 2015

A controversial opinion piece in Brisbane’s Sunday Mail newspaper attacking Australia’s grey nomads as a ‘menace’ has sparked a furious reaction from the caravanning community.

The column, published a week ago under the byline of Paul Syvret called for the government to introduce a caravan tax, combined with a special licensing system “for those people who, for some inexplicable reason, think it is a grand idea to tow these lumbering land yachts along our roads and highways”.

My Syrvet went on to describe what he called ‘Nanna-vans’ as “an unregulated and undertaxed menace”.

He says grey nomads are, ‘generally speaking, totally oblivious to the world around them, unless of course it’s a sign advertising a free cuppa and bikkies at the next Driver Reviver stop, or any other facilities where they don’t have to actually spend money’.

And he says they are blissfully unaware of ‘the elevated heart rates and blood-pressure levels in the kilometre-long line of traffic strung out behind them’.

Caravanning Queensland CEO, Ron Chapman, was quick to enter the fray, starting off by dismissing as a myth the notion that most caravanners were grey nomads, saying the 55-70 age group made up just 25% of the market.

And he mounted a spirited defence of caravans, suggesting that Mr Syrvet might take trip in one before venting on the subject.

“As mining and agriculture show signs of decline, it is the caravans that keep many of Queensland’s rural towns alive,” he said. “Indeed 80% of their business comes from tourists; visiting caravans in many cases are their lifeblood, and are readily welcomed by the locals.”

And Mr Chapman said that, when figures were last available, authorities reported less than 0.01% of accidents were caused by caravans. He added that the number one insurance claim for these vehicles was for hail and storm damage; not road accidents.

He also stated that:

  • 85% of the Australian population has stayed in a caravan holiday park at least once in their life.
  • They spend $7 billion annually.
  • They create an economic value of $17.44 billion to the overall economy.

“Australians are passionate about their caravans because it is a lifestyle choice that they have a right to and that they enjoy,” said Mr Chapman. “It is a holiday style that suits a wide range of age groups and budgets and allows people the freedom to explore this great country of ours.”

  • Do you think Paul Syvret’s original call for a caravan tax was a serious piece of journalism, or a clumsy attempt to gain attention for himself by being ‘controversial’ by picking on an ‘easy’ target? Comment below.
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7 years ago

Hi all, Maybe Mr Syvret should get out from behind his desk into the real world and find out what really happens. Because all he has done in that article is lower the ratings for that paper and make a Blue ribbon fool of himself.

Mark Rolls
7 years ago

I have driven many times around this great country in Car and Caravan, and I have driven semi Trucks around this big country too, I have seen many very good Caravan drivers who do the right thing, but more of the bad ones, One parking in Truck bays with no thought for who need to get a park and sleep that night, I think it is all ages not just GHN’S who do this, I think the answer is better training as we need a HC licence to drive a Semi we all should have to get A Caravan licence and road safe cert I think this would make the outback a lot safer

Faye Hunt
7 years ago

It is quite easy to pick on vulnerable people, who have worked extremely hard physically in a lot of cases instead of the pen pushers, who want to vent their ‘right’ of opinion behind a newspaper.
Come with me Paul and I will show you hard work with the vulnerable you have so sorely painted, that they have no right to caravan. These people are difficult to look after, as they are physically incapable of helping themselves, have limited brain function, and unable to look after themselves. However, no one would want to end up in a nursing home by choice, and instead would rather be able to enjoy the touring public and the life they lead.
Regardless of what these people do in their semi or retirement years, is totally their choice to enable them to lead a leisurely life before the nursing home aspect hits them.
Consider this is your own life in the future and what would you like to do before the nursing home situation may hit you. Yes you are a prime example, as we all are to be put in this situation, that is a nursing home.
You cannot rule on what tax should be on a product, as they already have GST on the item and also probably a tax at the time the caravan is purchased for registration etc.
Your might not call it a tax, but I sure do. $5,000 in my case to SA government, when I was lucky enough to purchase my tourist pleasure, I had worked for, for many, many years. And yes I enjoy travelling at a speed that is comfortable for me to drive at, and know that I have to travel with the weather, road conditions and traffic conditions in mind. It is also called safety driving to my ability.
I know I am a pain in the butt to you who might not experience the opportunity to travel at our leisure, but you might also consider the very outback areas, with lack of water as a basic ‘normal’ need without the other less city orientated ‘necessaries’ city people think they ‘have’ to have, rather than what is a life need.
I have a quote for you from backpackers, ‘Get a Life’, a true life of the touring type, and you may enjoy your life instead of whining about other people. You have probably got an issue in your life, that grey nomads dislike, but we cannot put it in the newspaper and express our opinion.

Wayne Kelly
7 years ago

Paul Syvret is just another tiresome example of the small-minded motorist meme who believe “I’m in my car, therefore I have a carved-in-stone right to sit on the max speed limit wherever I go.” As a cyclist I have put up with their irrational ranting for years, now as a caravaner it seems the same self centered, childish impatience will continue to be directed towards me. If you want to get there sooner Mr Syvret, get up 10 minutes earlier so you start in front of me.

John Christopher
7 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Kelly

Hear hear.

7 years ago

I think Paul Syvret’s comments did not deserve any reply.
Definitely written just to stir.

7 years ago

Paul Syvret’s article was behind a paywall so I was not able to read it. I would suggest this article was only to stir up responses in order to justify his position at the commiemail.

7 years ago

Sounds like this journo is still in nappies and would not have a clue. Then again jealousy is a curse hey. Happy caravaning over winter to all.

7 years ago

Politics of envy typical of a labor journalist enough said.

7 years ago

I think he has achieved his objective and stirred up a storm in a tea cup when I think the best thing would be to ignore him.

7 years ago

I think the real problem here is that he can’t drive properly. Its no big deal to bypass a caravan. It is those who can’t drive who are scared to pass and cause a string of cars behind them. The string is actually caused by them who don’t know how to pass.

7 years ago

The only worthy journo in my eyes is an investigative one who helps solve crime. The rest need to get a real job. Nuff said.

7 years ago

It’s interesting to note that Paul Syvret is not mentioned in the large list of Journo’s on the Courier Mail website. It’s no wonder why. Who in their right mind would want to claim they know or would hire this idiot?
Not only is Qld singing the praise of GN’s but other states are also doing plenty to try to attract all caravaners to their towns.
Despite Paul Syvret’s rant that all Gn’s are freeloaders, Caravanning Queensland CEO states the real dollar value of caravan travellers is a spend of $7 billion annually but Gn’s can only claim 25% of that that’s only $1.75 billion WOW.. It would also be as useless asking Paul Syvret to have a look at the Blaze Aid site as asking any one eyed person to look any other view than their own. Paul Syvret’s stupidity is only surpassed by his obvious anonymity, not only can he not be found on the Courier Mail website but no other working link can be found to contact this fool. I wonder why?

Neville Higgison
7 years ago

Why do we even bother replying to articles such as this. Can we not realise that jounalists who are supposedly resposible adults are constantly under pressure from irresponsible editors to find new angles and new materials to purvey in a chilidish attempt at increasing circulation. For goodness sake – it must be realised that the news media are down there in the public opinion polls in amongst used car sales people and politicians. This is just another example of ensuring they stay there. Let him his have his stupid rant.

Greetings from Aototeoroa – land of the long white cloud – New Zealand. Current rugby champions!!! We will soon become nomads in you lovely country.


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