'Wacka' blasts Bluecard as "shameful" act

Nationals Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams labels Bluecard law as a "shameful" act by NSW Government

'Wacka' blasts Bluecard as "shameful" act
'Wacka' blasts Bluecard as "shameful" act
By Brad Gardner | February 10, 2011

Nationals Senator John Williams has accused the Transport Workers Union of using revenue from the controversial Bluecard scheme to bankroll Labor election campaigns.

During a strident attack on the NSW Government in federal Parliament yesterday, Williams described the Bluecard policy as a "shameful" act.

Under NSW law, linehaul drivers are required to complete a TWU-sanctioned occupational, health and safety training course. They must carry a Bluecard as proof they have completed the course.

The TWU receives some of the revenue from the Western Australian company that sells the cards.

"This is the way they act: ‘We’ll have a compulsory little law. You have to buy something and we will get a kickback to help us in our next campaign at the election so we can spread our propaganda’," Williams says.

"One of the things that the NSW Labor government did that I though was so shameful during their almost 16 years in government was to introduce the Bluecard for truck drivers."

A spokesman for the TWU has defended the scheme, saying the Bluecard has provided the industry with thousands of trained and credentialed drivers.

"For as long as this industry continues to kill and maim 330 people each year, we won't be letting Senator Williams' sideshow distract us from our job of creating a safe industry," the spokesman says.

"As for Senator Williams’ strange allegations, they were found to be false the last time he raised them."

Industry groups have long complained about the Bluecard scheme, claiming it duplicates existing fatigue management laws that drivers and companies must already comply with.

The card was introduced under the Mutual Responsibility for Road Safety (State) Award, which grants unfettered union access to trucking yards.

The Federal Government tried to extend the Award nationwide in 2009 by including it in the Fair Work Act, but the move was defeated by a band of senators including Williams.

A registered training organisation permitted to run the Bluecard course previously told ATN drivers are taught more than fatigue management laws.

He says drivers are trained in injury management, accident prevention, drug awareness, first aid and driver responsibilities. They also receive driving techniques and personal protection advice.

During his speech Williams accused NSW Labor of driving people out of the state through high taxes and red tape. NSW voters will go to the polls on March 26.

"Bring on 26 March. Bring on the tsunami and throw them out," Williams says.

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