Union and fuel retail lash punitive roadhouse enforcement


Joint letter to state governments seeks clarity on exemption uncertainty

Union and fuel retail lash punitive roadhouse enforcement
ACAPMA roadhouse signage for the exemption

 

Despite the mandate on rest stop accessibility for truck drivers, a joint industry letter to various state premiers questions why the exemption has not been always been granted, illustrating its query with an example of punitive enforcement action at one roadhouse.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Michael Kaine and Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) CEO Mark McKenzie ask the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian governments for clarity on "continued fuel retail and transport industry confusion" around the operation of roadhouses, truck stops and similar facilities in the face of Covid-19 restrictions.

"As you would be aware, there was an initial decision taken that these facilities should be treated in the same manner as cafes and restaurants – and should therefore remove internal seating and only serve take away food.

"Representations made by both of our organisations were to Federal and State/Territory Governments challenging this decision on the grounds that this decision effectively removed vital ‘industry lunchroom’ and ‘driver crib’ facilities for the Nation’s truck drivers - at a time when demand for road transport in sectors such as FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] was surging.

"More importantly, we stressed that these facilities comprise part of the National Truck Stop Network which supports the effective operation of Australia’s Driver Fatigue Laws, under the auspices of National Heavy Vehicle Regulations."


More information on the truckstop exemption, here


The decision to exempt these facilities from the previous prohibition was widely publicised in national and industry media.

Despite this, "multiple enforcement actions by Police that were contrary to the National Cabinet decision", TWU and ACPMA continue, prompting further statement from the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack "confirming that the decision had been made to allow seating in roadhouses and truck-stops for the sole use of heavy vehicle operators".

Kaine and McKenzie outline one particularly harsh enforcement incident that flies against the face of the exemptions.

"In one very unsavory case in South Australia on 1 April 2020, the local police officers allegedly abused the roadhouse operator (and their staff) and physically removed the truck drivers from the seating area," in spite of both roadhouse operator and several truck drivers showing the details of the exemption to the attending police.

"We are therefore writing to seek clarification of this matter and to understand whether this issue relates to (a) a failure of communication within your State’s Police Force, or (b) is an indication of your State’s decision to go a different way to the resolution of the national cabinet.

"Recognising the serious concerns surrounding the withdrawal of roadhouse and truck stop facilities for heavy vehicle drivers operating within your State, and the potential adverse impact on driver safety and fatigue management, your urgent response would be appreciated in respect of this manner."

 

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