EXCLUSIVE: Union boss Sheldon to join Finemore on NTC board

By: Jason Whittaker

Transport Workers Union (TWU) boss Tony Sheldon is set to be appointed a commissioner of the National Transport Commission (NTC). ATN

Transport Workers Union (TWU) boss Tony Sheldon is set to be appointed a commissioner of the National Transport Commission (NTC).

ATN understands the New South Wales union heavyweight will join a new-look six-person board, along with trucking identity Ron Finemore.

The move would bring a level of industry experience to the board that the transport industry has long called for.

But Sheldon is a controversial figure in the trucking industry for his outspoken comments on driver safety and workplace relations.

Since ousting John Allen as national secretary of the TWU, Sheldon has had a difficult relationship with the peak Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and employers.

Both Sheldon and Finemore declined to comment on the appointments when contacted by ATN, citing confidentiality.

Commissioners were nominated by transport ministers at last Friday's Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting, with the final decision left to federal Cabinet.

The NTC says it cannot comment on the appointments until after the Cabinet decision.

Former state bureaucrat Michael Deegan chairs the board under CEO Nick Dimopoulos, the former head of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) think tank who was made NTC boss in October 2006.

The fate of Deegan, Deputy Chairman Des Powell and Commissioner Fred Affleck on the board remains unclear. ATN understands at least Powell could go in the shake-up.

The NTC has been run with a four-person board since the retirements of Erik Finger and Virginia Hickey early last year. Those seats will be filled by Cabinet, along with the three up for renewal.

The NTC has won favour with the new Federal Government, appointed by Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to design a new policy roadmap for the logistics sector.

State governments will chair 10 working groups on subjects including infrastructure, regulation, safety and the environment.

Last week Deegan declared a new beginning for transport in Australia, saying in a speech to a roads summit that the new policy framework was a plan for "significant and decisive action to keep this nation moving".

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