Fatigue management not the panacea: QTA president

Fatigue laws won't deliver the outcome many are hoping for, QTA President Tim Squires claims

By Brad Gardner

A leading transport operator wants government intervention into the running of industry associations and unions, and claims fatigue management laws will not deliver safety benefits.

Director of Tothag Transport Group Tim Squires wants a new government bureaucracy set up to oversee industry groups and unions when they develop cost modelling.

Squires, who made the comments in his submission to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) review into pay rates, says a watchdog needs to review the formulation process to ensure small to medium trucking operators and owner-drivers are receiving adequate compensation from prime contractors and customers.

Squires, who is also the president of the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA), has broken ranks with other industry groups by saying he is unconvinced of the supposed benefits of fatigue management laws and chain of responsibility.

"I am afraid that, whilst I fully support both, I am sceptical that they are going to provide the impact that is foreseen by some," Squires says.

"Unless there is a major prosecution of a very high profile freight generator within the supply chain reasonably quickly, the whole concept of CoR is going to be viewed by industry as just another way to attract more revenue for the same offence for which the driver has been prosecuted for years."

While opposing government intervention in the marketplace, Squires supports government action in educating the industry to help operators develop cost indexes, weekly profit and loss statements and negotiation tools.

Squires also contradicts QTA Chief Executive Peter Garske, who claims there is no evidence safety is affected by pay rates.

Although he says it may not be a major contributor to safety outcomes, Squires nonetheless concedes driver payments "is one of a suite of issues" which affects safety.

In his submission, Squires also proposes a new award system which re-introduces regular driver payment reviews to ensure operators and owner-drivers are not forced to wait long periods before being reimbursed.

"It will also ensure that our drivers, as the backbone of the industry, are fairly rewarded and are able to make a reasonable living from the tasks that they perform," Squires says.

The NTC review is due to be compiled into a report and handed to the Australian Transport Council (ATC) when it meets in November.

The Rudd Government launched the review following concerns current pay methods were not adequate.

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