Support for NSW training levy, but ATA backs TruckSafe

Support for NSW proposal on levied fleet safety rating scheme, but ATA says TruckSafe the best tool

By Michael House | September 7, 2009

The nation's peak trucking body won't support a New South Wales proposal for a levied safety rating scheme, though at least one operator sees benefits for a labour-starved industry.

The NSW Government is considering the introduction of a five-star rating system to assess fleet owners, paid for by a levy on business.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) argues its TruckSafe program, a voluntary accreditation scheme for operators, does the same thing.

"Although the proposal for a five-star safety system is no doubt well-meaning, the ATA will not be lobbying for it to be introduced," ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says.

"The ATA already runs the industry’s leading safety accreditation program TruckSafe [and] independent statistics show that TruckSafe operators are twice as safe as non-accredited operators."

Under the NSW proposal, put forward by Police Minister Tony Kelly and Roads Minister Michael Daley in response to a road safety forum earlier this year, the Roads and Traffic Authority is to consider a levy to fund training and accreditation initiatives, which highly-rated operators would have access to.

Jim Savage, the Managing Director of NSW livestock transporter Stockmaster, likes the idea of having funding available for ongoing training.

"Our industry needs to get out there and be training a lot more people and I would be willing to contribute to the fund, as long as I can drag some money out of it too," he tells ATN.

Savage says with a little tweaking the initiative could cement the trucking industry as a real career option for young people.

"I would like to see a lot more done to it [the proposal], like how is it going to be regulated," he says.

"[But] for an industry to look forward ... we have got to be able to get our image fixed and turn it into a profession where drivers are recognised by the federal and state governments, and I would like to think such a scheme would make this happen."

The proposal, which includes beefing up on-road enforcement and extending occupational health and safety laws, is advocated by veteran operator Ron Finemore and the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

But St Clair says the NSW Government should instead be championing TruckSafe as an industry-wide program.

"In our view, the NSW Government should focus its efforts on encouraging operators to join TruckSafe, because it is already successful, it is owned by the industry, and it has a strong focus on safety, compliance and driver health," he says.

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