Sterle declares WA’s fatigue management regime must stay

By: Brad Gardner

Former truck driver and now federal senator says eastern states need to change their fatigue management laws.

Sterle declares WA’s fatigue management regime must stay
Leading the charge: Glenn Sterle says he will resist any efforts from eastern states to impose their fatigue laws on WA.

He has threatened to brawl in support of better conditions for truck drivers and now Glenn Sterle says he will throw rocks at eastern states if they try and foist their fatigue management regime on Western Australia. 

Federal Labor’s colourful senator from WA, himself a former truckie, has criticised the fatigue management laws running along the eastern seaboard and says national heavy vehicle regulations will not happen unless eastern states change their thinking on the issue.

Fatigue management has been a key sticking point preventing WA from adopting national regulations, with the state adamant its existing system must remain in place to reflect the needs of trucking operators and drivers working within its borders. 

During a recent Senate estimates hearing, Sterle claimed adopting the eastern states’ fatigue management laws would bring WA to a standstill.

"I am the first one to stand here and say I support fatigue management. I would do anything to support our drivers being safe out on the roads, but if there was a thought that the eastern states could impose their regime on us I would be at the border throwing rocks at you as well. Well, not at you, at the eastern states," Sterle told the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Donna Wieland. 

"Noted. Thank you," Wieland responded. 

Despite Sterle’s comments, Department Secretary Mike Mrdak has expressed hope WA will eventually consider adopting national regulations, which the Northern Territory has also snubbed. 

"I think the WA trucking industry has yet to be convinced of the benefits of the national regime," Mrdak says.

"We are continuing discussions with WA. As the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) gets established and effectively gets some runs on the board in terms of changes to legislation and operations, then I think we would probably in the future see if in the future the jurisdictions wish to join."

But Sterle is unconvinced and believes the other states will need to relent on fatigue management if they want WA to adopt national regulations.

"I see how the intent to have a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator could be good for Australia. I do not want to burst your bubble, but it is not going to happen unless the eastern states regimes change their fatigue management laws, and that is a decision for them," Sterle says. 

"When I was out pedalling across there I used to hate the eastern states regime, but I was a West Aussie and we had ours and that suited us."

During a parliamentary debate on the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) in 2012 Sterle told Coalition Senator Eric Abetz, who now holds the employment portfolio, "I will blue you, I will debate you".

Sterle was speaking in favour of the RSRT, which the Coalition opposes. The tribunal has the power to set pay rates and conditions for sub-contractors and owner-drivers.  

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