The council split on the issue of steering wheels versus joysticks for graders like this one.
The council split on the issue of steering wheels versus joysticks for graders like this one. Matthew Newton

Joystick or steering wheel? Council split on $455K purchase

WORKERS' safety and whether a joystick is preferred over a steering wheel were hotly debated issues as Gladstone Regional Council voted on where they should buy three new motor graders.

The two contenders were the cheaper steering wheel-operated Komatsu grader and a Hastings Deering CAT, which has a joystick.

The Komatsu grader received a lower workplace health and safety rating because a tyre mounted at the back limits visibility.

While the council wouldn't have the tyre mounted on the machines, that did not give them enough confidence.

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett noted the three new graders would be added to the fleet of seven CATS that council workers already use.

"We have seven caterpillars that we know work, maybe I'm just too attached to CATs," he said.

Councillor Kahn Goodluck said he didn't want to make a "snap" decision by opting for the steering wheel machines.

"This will increase the margin for error, it's a huge concern," Cr Goodluck said.

"They're in tricky positions, reversing, going uphill ... the lower margin for error is the best case scenario."

With Mayor Matt Burnett's casting vote the council opted to spend the $80,000 extra to purchase the three Hastings Deering CATs at a cost of $445,772 each.

In comparison, the Komatsu machines cost $363,000.

"The Komatsu machines have a steering wheel and a lower safety rating, but they're cheaper and have a Gladstone office," Cr Burnett said.

"The CAT is $80,000 more but has a joystick, and that's what the council workers already use.

"My vote was to stay with the status quo, mostly because I don't think we were comparing apples with apples."

Voting for Komatsu's machines, councillor P.J. Sobhanian said the council should honour their Buy Local policy.

"We've seen time and time again we pay more for a local product, but in this instance we're going against it," he said.



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