EDITORIAL: Hysterical Sheldon will struggle to be heard at NTC

By: Jason Whittaker


Tony Sheldon's commitment to truck driver safety can't be questioned. It's more the often hysterical rhetoric he uses to make

Tony Sheldon's commitment to truck driver safety can't be questioned. It's more the often hysterical rhetoric he uses to make the point that doesn't endear him to trucking employers.

In an interview with ATN this week, the Federal Secretary of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) said opposition to the controversial Bluecard was something akin to sponsored killing. "For any Australian to make that sort of line is scandalous and is verging on letting off scot-free the top-end that are literally killing people through their economic pressure," he shrieked.

It makes you wonder how Sheldon would get on at the National Transport Commission's (NTC) commissioner meetings.

The deal by Labor states to put their union comrade on the six-man board of the NTC just needs federal Cabinet approval, ATN reveals this week. Sheldon will take his place among the decision makers in one of the country's most important transport policy organisations to add necessary industry experience but pose serious questions about his agenda.

Sheldon doesn't seem to grasp that improving transport safety — something everyone can agree on — requires a collective solution. His combative approach and refusal to deal with employers at a representative level like the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Council creates more enemies than friends. The long-held crusade against the "Mr Bigs" of the supply chain have only served to alienate employers and customers from the process.

Employers will quite rightly question, too, whether Sheldon will use his influence at the NTC to force down driving hours even further. Operators can't afford that.

Sheldon will make the right noises about infrastructure improvements, including rest stops, distribution centre queuing and the impact of higher charges on trucking operators.

But he'll need to tone down the rhetoric and call off the dogs if he's to be a really effective bureaucrat.

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