Fairfax safety and compliance expose sparks TWU response

Questioning of COR approach and other regulatory issues highlight shortfalls and sensitivities

Fairfax safety and compliance expose sparks TWU response
Tony Sheldon sees the reports backing the TWU's stance

A trucking industry-focused news feature series over two days last weekend has stoked industry tensions over chain of responsibility, safety and compliance.

Carried in Fairfax media outlets, the series covered truck-driver accusations of management pressure to cut corners, avoidance of compliance laws and systems and licensing shortfalls, along with a cold-case investigation of a fatal crash.

The thrust of the industry-focused article mirrored Transport Workers Union (TWU) criticism, with the union highlighting its coverage of:

  • overloaded vehicles
  • vehicles not maintained properly
  • long driving hours, speeding and driving schools giving trucking licences without adequate training
  • the sacking of one driver for raising overloading concerns
  • another driver alegedly forced to drive long hours which were not recorded in his logbook who was also later sacked.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon used it to beat the federal government with and reiterate its positions on major retailers and the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

"The Federal Government cannot ignore the role it has played in making our roads less safe to travel on," Sheldon says in a statement.

"What has been exposed today is something the Government has been warned about repeatedly and yet chose to make worse.

"It tore down the independent Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal investigating the very problems raised."

The TWU notes fatal crashes involving articulated trucks have risen more than 7 per cent this year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

It says Safe Work Australia data shows that 40 per cent of all workplace deaths involved transport workers, " up from one in three transport workers last year and one in four in 2015".

"The Government let the wealthy retailers and manufacturers off the hook by closing down the tribunal," Sheldon says.

"These wealthy clients through their low cost contracts are putting financial pressure on transport companies and kick-starting the deadly cycle which results in deaths on our roads. Without tackling the source of the problem we can expect deaths to continue increasing."

The union quoted Jasmine Payget, whose six-year-old son Rian was killed in the 2004 crash and who is a focus of the cold case article, as saying: "The government just needs to do its job.

"Last year, the Federal Government abolished a tribunal which made legal rules to ensure more safety on the roads. They have replaced it with nothing.  Is there any wonder that deaths and injuries are increasing?

"I am a mum who was going away for the weekend with her family.

"I have a right to roads that safe. Truck drivers have family and they have the right to come home safely."

The cold case article recounts the incident, the flawed initial police investigation, a subsequent police cold case investigation, and names a truck driver with an allegedly questionable driving record who was at the scene.


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