Inquiry in Queenslands heavy vehicle fatalities not guaranteed

By: Jason Whittaker


An inquiry into heavy vehicle fatalities in Queensland will hinge on whether State Coroner Michael Barnes, along with a number

An inquiry into heavy vehicle fatalities in Queensland will hinge on whether State Coroner Michael Barnes, along with a number of groups, can identify a trend in the cause of accidents.

In a letter to the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA), Barnes wrote he will be working with the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland, the State Traffic Support Branch as well as Queensland Police in examining the causes of the fatalities, with the results guiding his decision on whether to launch a coronial inquiry.

With the death toll at 21, Transport Workers Union (TWU) Branch Secretary High Williams says "urgent action is needed" to halt the rise in fatalities.
"At this rate we will succeed last year’s horrific 65 deaths," Williams says.

However, if an inquiry does go ahead, there is uncertainty about when it will take place. QTA expects the joint research initiative to "take some time to complete and therefore impact on the timing of any further action by the State Coroner".

Based on a meeting with Barnes on February 19, which involved government agencies and the TWU, QTA Chief Executive Peter Garske says an inquiry will be "evidence-based and rely on qualitative research".

As such, there is no guarantee it will expose "criminal bosses" who push drugs onto their drivers, as Williams’ claims.
"Those assertions have been made for some time by the TWU but little or no evidence has been forthcoming," Garske says.
"The drivers are in fact punished if they do things wrong; they are actively discouraged from breaking the law."

The meeting raised the prospect of examining whether to implement the agenda of the Victorian Industry Safety Group, which had in place workplace safety, health issues and road safety.

The QTA proposes a heavy vehicle reference group be established as a sub set of the Queensland Road Safety Committee.

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