Authorities have no issues with Garden Grove: Shearer

By: Anjali Behl

SARTA chief slams TWU for ‘perpetuating falsehoods’, says SafeWork SA does not intend to investigate the company

Authorities have no issues with Garden Grove: Shearer
Shearer says the TWU should be called to account for its actions.


South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive officer Steve Shearer says SA Police and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) have separately advised him that they have "no concerns" with Garden Grove following their subsequent visit and discussions.

The statement comes after the company fired a second driver in as many months for dangerous driving.

Speaking on behalf of the company, Shearer says the company contacted SA Police to discuss the incident with them on the same day it was made aware of a dash cam video.

The video, which was circulated through social media, showed a Garden Grove driver dangerously overtaking another heavy vehicle from the wrong side of the road.

The following week, SA Police discussed the issue with the company, Shearer tells ATN.

"The NHVR’s new Investigations and Prosecutions Unit based in Adelaide was coincidentally already meeting with Garden Grove as part of that Unit's industry familiarisation at the time of the initial dashcam incident," Shearer says.

"The NHVR Unit has met twice with Garden Grove as part of that process and had a thorough look at the company's policies, management and systems, just as they are doing with quite a number of companies, and the NHVR has advised me that they have no issues with Garden Grove."

Following both incidents, Garden Grove had conducted its own investigations, which involved speaking to the drivers. However, after both drivers failed to convince the company that there was a valid reason for their dangerous manoeuvres on the road, they were fired.

Shearer had earlier stated that the dash cam footage highlighted a wider issue within Port Augusta region, where road trains are limited to 90km/h, while other bigger vehicles are allowed to move at 100km/h.

In response to Transport Workers’ Union (TWU’s) call to SA authorities to conduct an investigation of Garden Grove’s safety practices, Shearer says SafeWork SA has informed him that it has "no intention of visiting or investigating" the company as the union has failed to provide any information to support its claims.

"The TWU claims are both outrageous and unsubstantiated, yet they keep repeating their absurd claims, which in my view is an appalling attempt to stir up trouble and create some case for whatever it is that they think they are trying to achieve," Shearer says.

"The TWU's actions are in fact applying a great deal of unfair pressure on the safe and responsible driving workforce at Garden Grove by perpetuating the TWU falsehoods which is resulting in unfair and unpleasant comments by other drivers to Garden Grove drivers to on the road, all based on the TWU's false claims.

"So in fact the TWU is itself creating pressure and stress for Garden Grove drivers."

Last week, TWU SA/NT branch secretary Ian Smith had said that Garden Grove was covering up its "poor" safety practices, which was making many "experienced" drivers to exit the company.

Shearer says the union should be called to account for its "appalling" actions. 

He says TWU representatives do not participate in discussions with the industry – a step that could help bridge the gap between a marked difference in outlook of the union and many industry representative bodies.

"They should actually get serious and sit down with industry, at the ATA Council quarterly meetings and at the SA Law Enforcement Liaison Group monthly meetings, to actually discuss genuine safety issues and initiatives in an effective and productive way ... instead they continually fail to even show up."

Shearer also accuses TWU for misrepresenting the subject of driver working hours.

He says the union often blames transport companies for making drivers work up to 17 hours a day, when in fact that duration also includes waiting time at depots when the vehicles are being loaded by people other than the drivers.

"In these cases the drivers are not technically operating the vehicles under the fatigue law guidelines.

"In fact they are driving up to 14 hours or less while someone else does the loading/unloading of the goods on the vehicle.

"But the union misrepresents facts to make it look like the drivers are driving their trucks non-stop for up to 17 hours a day, which is completely incorrect."

Shearer says TWU's unsubstantiated arguments are an attempt to make a case to bring back the discredited and ineffective Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

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