TWU takes new swipe at ATA on Safe Rates

Union links association's Safe Rates opposition to lobby group

TWU takes new swipe at ATA on Safe Rates
Michael Kaine


The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has come out swinging at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), saying it must "come clean and reveal its political agenda, in light of recent press reports and following its position to oppose regulatory reform in trucking".

This is in response to a statement from the ATA last week, which said its general council unanimously supported an industry approach to a Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

That approach "reaffirmed the [general] council’s opposition to government-imposed price fixing, with concerns raised about Labor’s new national policy of enforcing fixed prices on all parties in the supply chain".

Read the ATA's full statement on the RSRT, here

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine targeted the ATA’s opposition to such a system, in particular questioning the ATA’s motives for doing so.

"The ATA was set up to promote better standards in trucking yet it is doing the absolute opposite of this. In the same week that links have been made to a retiree group which fronts as a conservative party campaign the ATA announces a position on road transport that makes as much sense as turkeys voting for Christmas.

"Its position shows it is opposed to fair, safe standards and rates for truck drivers and operators.

"It is opposed to a system which holds wealthy clients at the top of the transport supply chain to account for low cost contracts which result in businesses under pressure and deaths on the roads.

"Opposing these solutions makes no sense since they will ultimately make our industry stronger, our businesses more sustainable and our roads safer."

The ‘retiree group’ the TWU links the ATA to is the Defenders of Self-Funded Retirees, described by The Age as "a network of professional lobbyists involved in the trucking industry and the Liberal Party, with a history of campaigning against Labor government policies".

"The ATA’s members should rightly be questioning the motivations behind the organisation. In light of recent press reports about non-transparent links between members of the trucking industry, including those with links to the ATA, and a politically-motivated lobbyist group backed by the Liberal Party, ATA members should be questioning where their funds are going to and what the real agenda of the ATA is," Kaine says.

People found to be linked to the group include:

  • Andrew Higginson, founder of the ATA (formerly the Road Transport Forum)
  • Rob Gunning, former boss of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) and the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA), who has "said his proudest achievement was the abolition of Labor's Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal"
  • Doug McMillan, "who runs a trucking company in Albury with his wife Pam and is a former Trucking Association vice-chairman and was a trustee of the Transport Industry Superannuation Fund".

"McMillan and Gunning were involved in the truck industry's campaign against Julia Gillard's climate policy, helping organise the Convoy of No Confidence in which truck drivers converged on Canberra. Mr McMillan also authorised flyers proclaiming: ‘I H8 Carbon Tax’," The Age continues.

Kaine adds: "This is not the first time the ATA has gone out of its way to run down our industry. It has opposed a system that was on the cusp of guaranteeing 30-day payments to both drivers and transport businesses. It has no interest in ensuring that clients are held to account over low cost contracts. Its agenda appears both ideologically motivated and politically compromised. It is time that the rest of industry knows the truth about what drives this organisation because it is clear that achieving safe and sustainable businesses is not what it is about."

Safe Rates summit

On Wednesday, the TWU "will join truck drivers, families of truck crash victims, academics, transport companies & associations, major retailers and politicians" at Parliament House in Canberra "to agree to a legislative framework to ensure safety and fairness in road transport (including the gig economy) are the main priority", it says.

A number of sessions will take place, keynote speeches and question time will take place.

"While the ATA agrees on what it is against, we will be joining industry associations, transport companies, clients, truck drivers and other interested parties to work out the legislative framework we need to address the problems we face. This will be an important forum focused on the future of our industry to make it stronger and safer," Kaine says.


You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook