Industry groups show united front against shutdown

By: Jason Whittaker


Trucking groups have unanimously condemned proposed shutdowns, with Victorian Transport Association (VTA) Chief Executive Phil Lovel joining a chorus of

Trucking groups have unanimously condemned proposed shutdowns, with Victorian Transport Association (VTA) Chief Executive Phil Lovel joining a chorus of critics slamming the actions of strike advocates.

Following the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) refusal to support the Australian Long Distance and Owner Drivers Association (ALDODA) or owner-driver Mick Pattel, a raft of representative organisations have made statements opposing the strikes.

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA), the Australian Road Train Association (ARTA), NatRoad, ATA NSW, ATA NT, and now the VTA all agree refusing to work to pressure governments to agree to a list of demands will not work.

The groups, in fact, argue it will actually have an adverse effect in that the public will rally against truck drivers who blockade traffic or disrupt commuters.

Lovel has been particularly scathing of Pattel. He says the owner-driver’s demands, which include disbanding the National Transport Commission (NTC), rescinding fatigue management regulations and altering logbook laws, are "ridiculous" and will fail as will his proposed shutdown on July 28.

"The list of non-negotiable demands issued by an independent owner-driver in Queensland is quite ridiculous – incredible in fact," he says.

"Disband this, suspend all regulation and, by the way, rescind fines and reimburse demerit points when we break the law. There is no chance that any of these claims will or can be realised."

While saying the VTA understands owner-drivers are concerned over rising costs and increased regulations, Lovel argues governments will not back down on regulations designed to increase safety.

Rather than stopping work for two weeks, he says owner-drivers should be pressuring prime contractors and customers to review contracts and fuel levies.

"But suggesting things like a shutdown or blockade with a list of non-negotiable demands isn’t the answer. In fact, it will only make matters worse," Lovel says.

Like the ATA, the VTA is pushing owner-drivers to end their opposition to representative bodies by joining one to air their concerns or "get out of the industry".

NatRoad has also taken offence to Pattel and ALDODA’s Lyn Bennetts criticising industry groups when they are not members of any.

"I get very frustrated by some in the industry who criticise the great work done by our associations but do not belong to or give input to an association," NatRoad President Roger Pickering says.

The groups’ unity is in stark contrast to the shutdown advocates, who are squabbling in an effort to claim their actions best represents truck drivers.

Pattel and Bennetts continue to trade insults, with Pattel referring to ALDODA as Al Qaeda and Bennetts suggesting Pattel is trying to use a shutdown to further his political ambitions as a member of the Southern Cross Party.

So dysfunctional is ALDODA’s campaign that its national branch has withdrawn support for Bennetts’ antics which include a lawsuit against the Queensland Government over logbook laws and rest areas.

While referring to Pattel as a "loose cannon", ALDODA Chief Executive Jerry Sarre-Brown also stated Bennetts’ demands lack credibility and will fail.

Furthermore, Pattel’s campaign appears to be losing support outside of Queensland, with ARTA Executive Director John Morris saying 70 truck drivers turned up to a rally in Dubbo when about 350 were expected to attend.

ALDODA’s recent strike from June 12 to June 25 had no impact, with the Federal Government ignoring the fringe organisation.

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