Government stands firm against shutdown advocates

By: Jason Whittaker


Striking owner-drivers attempting to pressure governments over fatigue laws and fuel prices have hit a roadblock with Minister for Transport

Striking owner-drivers attempting to pressure governments over fatigue laws and fuel prices have hit a roadblock with Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese refusing to give in to their demands.

In a radio interview while in Adelaide, Albanese criticised groups organising a national trucking industry shutdown, saying they lack coherent policies and are kidding themselves by trying to pressure governments to renege on key reforms and regulations.

"It is just unrealistic to suggest that all fuel levies are going to be removed, all fatigue laws removed and scrutiny of them," Albanese says.

"What we’re talking about here is the need for safe work practices for truck drivers, but also for other road users."

Albanese says the groups responsible for the shutdown are "a very small element" and in no way represent the majority of the industry.

Furthermore, he says it is difficult understand what the organisers want because each party has a different set of demands it wants addressed.

"It’s pretty unclear what…is meant to be achieved, and it’s unclear how many people will actually participate," Albanese says.

The Australian Long Distance and Owner Drivers Association (ALDODA) and the National Road Transport Forum (NRTF) have instigated separate shutdowns, with ALDODA demanding the fuel tax be abolished along with new fatigue laws and logbook provisions.

The Mick Pattel-led NRTF wants the National Transport Commission (NTC) disbanded, demerit points for logbook infringements scrapped and more money spent on rest areas.

While admitting there are not enough rest areas, Albanese says the Government is attempting to rectify the situation with its $70 million safety and productivity package.

The implementation of the initiative hinges on new heavy vehicle charges being passed in the Senate. The charges were originally blocked when the Liberals had control of the Upper House, but the Government intends on reintroducing the charges once parliament resumes.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook