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Californicartion


In fact we don't deserve any decent car. As a nation we deserve nothing more than the Daihatsu Sirion.

That snoresome 1.0-litre device should be reactivated for a nation of inept milksops who have lamely allowed government to treat them like revenue raising milch cows. Nor, on the whole, can Australians – to use the indelible expression of a certain V8 supercar pilot and trainer of advanced road techniques – “drive a greasy stick up a dead dog’s arse”.

Spending several days in Sicily to drive this latest example of Marinello magnificence and a few more around Modena in Italy’s north messing about in Maseratis has served to reinforce two things: such pedigree beasts are completely wasted in our country; and how rubbish we’ve become.

“The police are aware of our presence and there is a speed limit here,” a Fazza official reminded us. “We would say only to drive safely and be conscious of the conditions.”

But while the driving conditions in Sicily are as ordinary as in most Australian states, the locals can and do drive safely on the open road at a rate that would cause the sanctimonious twerps who bill themselves as safety experts in this country to have a fit of vapours. The bureaucrats listened to by government here wouldn’t last a minutes over there.

That’s not to say it’s a free-for-all. Due caution is taken in urban areas and as the occasion demands. It helps that Europeans are taught to drive. They learn all sorts of useful things, such as that blocking the fast lane is actually pretty moronic.

Having had to do more to get a license than fill out a form, pay a fee and demonstrate the ability to reverse park enhances life on the road more than anyone who has had the misfortune of knowing only Australian driving could understand.

Another refreshing contrast, especially in Italy, is that the sight of something a bit special on the road occasions not middle digits raised and barked abuse, but unfettered joy. There’s a mutual respect among road users.

By dismal contrast we’ve accepted a state of affairs in which we can drive legally at a rate that’s slower than in Dad’s day, despite cars that, while faster, are incomparably safer.

We meekly accept without a word of protest fixed speed cameras despite overwhelming evidence that these do absolutely nothing to contain the road toll and the sure knowledge that they raise hundreds of millions of dollars. And then we obediently vote the very same crowd back in.  

Perhaps worse than being such authority worshipping jellyfish, few of us take responsibility for ourselves and those who drive with us by seeking the expert tuition that driving any sort of vehicle by definition requires. We don’t hafta so we’re not gunna.

Actually, even the Sirion is too good for us.