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Ports Australia and TWU in new truck safety commentary

Gallacher says ships are best option as Sheldon ropes in Atkins


Shipping will reduce the impacts of heavy vehicles on our roads, according to Ports Australia CEO Mike Gallacher.

The boss of the national ports peak body insists the “quickest, simplest and cheapest way to improve the safety of our roads is to move unnecessary freight off our roads”.

“Australia is an island nation with ports up and down our coastline connecting every major town and city to each other via the blue highway,” Gallacher says.

“Our ports are there, they are connected and they are open for business and we need the government to see that and start using this country’s freight network effectively.

“Shipping is by far the most economical and environmentally sound way of moving freight. We have to start removing unnecessary truck movements off the roads that we all use and not rely simply on extra regulation and new technology.”

“The government is developing a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and if we are serious about improving safety on our roads and functioning better as a country then shipping has to be a central pillar.

“Better utilisation of ports around the country will not only result in a positive safety outcome for country and regional roads it will also create job opportunities, particularly in regional communities.

“We need a strategy that reflects the flexibility of roads, the connectivity of rail and the capacity of our ports.”

The intervention comes as the truck safety debate rages, with a range commentators and observers joining in.

Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon linked the recent spate of heavy vehicle accidents in New South Wales and the Atkins case in South Australia in a point about pressures on truck drivers while beating the ‘safe rates’ drum once more.

“The federal government has blood on its hands over these deaths,” Sheldon says.

“It was warned repeatedly not to shut down an independent road safety watchdog because deaths on the roads would increase.

“Its own report on the tribunal showed its Orders were cutting trucks crashes by 28 per cent. Families and communities are being torn apart while all we get from the government is silence.

“Official statistics show a 9.4 per cent increase in deaths from truck crashes nationally. The figured for NSW spiked significantly with an 86 per cent jump in deaths from articulated trucks.

“New Safe Work Australia data for 2017 showed almost 40 per cent of all workplace deaths involved a transport worker. Despite overall workplace deaths decreasing last year, the number of transport workers killed on the job jumped to 66, up from 57 in 2016.

“The wage theft case shows what drivers face – they are under pressure to speed and drive gruelling hours to meet unrealistic deadlines and all the while they are being ripped off their wages.

“There is a crisis in transport that is being caused right at the top of the supply chain – by the wealthy retailers and manufacturers financially squeezing operators and drivers.

“The federal government is standing by and letting this and the deaths happen. This crisis reflects a total failure of the federal administration.”


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