Small fleet representative hopes to secure better deal for truck drivers

By: Brad Gardner


Leigh Smart looks to improve relations between industry and authorities and reform demerit points.

Small fleet representative hopes to secure better deal for truck drivers
Formula Chemicals founder Leigh Smart hopes to use his position within the ATA to score a better deal for truck drivers.

 

The man tasked with representing the interests of small trucking companies is hoping to use his position to improve relations between industry and authorities and achieve a better deal for truck drivers.

Leigh Smart, who owns and runs Formula Chemicals in New South Wales, was recently elected unopposed to sit on the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) general council as the small fleet representative.

The council sets the policy direction for the ATA, and Smart already has a number of issues he wants to raise.

He says professional truck drivers should have more demerit points than a general motorist.

"You can’t see that if I’m doing 20km a week and my driver is driving to Albury-Wodonga every night he should be on the same points we are. If he has done all the courses and he is fully qualified he should get some benefit out of that," Smart says.

"I’m probably clocking up the whole of 20km a week driving and I’m entitled to 12 points. One of my drivers does over 500,000km every year and he’s entitled to 12 points.

"I just can’t see any fairness in that."

Smart says overzealous enforcement is a key issue for his business and the industry in general.

"You don’t seem to get too much of a leeway with some of these people you’re dealing with," he says.

"Then you wonder why you put an ad in for a truck driver and no-one wants the job."

Smart has previously staged events to build relationships with authorities and improve their understanding of the trucking industry.

"That’s what we’ve got to try and do, is bring those blokes on board so that they understand we’re all out there [and] none of us are trying to take shortcuts," he says.

"I’m 65, I’ve been in business 42 years. I’ve got too much to lose by doing anything stupid."

Smart sees the ATA’s TruckWeek initiative as the vehicle to engage authorities and the broader community, and he adds that the event should be held annually instead of every second year.

During previous TruckWeek events, companies have staged community visits, drives with politicians and meetings with authorities to promote the trucking industry.

"I would like to see TruckWeek celebrated every year because one thing it does is you’re dealing with young kids and that gives them an idea that there is actually a career in transport and it’s not only driving a truck," Smart says.

Smart, whose is involved in chemical manufacturing and distribution and operates four trucks, is due to take up his two-year tenure as the ATA small fleet representative on March 19.

"I’ve always been interested in the trucking industry," he says.

"I’m really looking forward to being on the [ATA] committee and I hope I can make some changes.

"I don’t expect to make all the changes, but if we could just get one or two in there to make our drivers lives a little better I think it would be fantastic."

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