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Sterle weighs in as NTC backs HVNL process

Labor spokesman condemns ‘epic failure’ of reform push


Senator Glenn Sterle has lambasted the National Transport Commission (NTC) and the federal government for their handling of National Heavy Vehicle Law (HVNL) reform.

While industry indications are that state jurisdictions bear a lot of the responsibility for its deep unease, Sterle homed in on oversight of the project

“After three years of consultations, meetings and communiques, the National Transport Commission has failed in its attempt to deliver an effective and meaningful review of the National Heavy Vehicle Law,” he stated.

“The review began in November 2018 and was intended to produce outcomes that would improve safety and productivity.

“However, all it has done since then is produce summaries of findings, regulatory impact statements and reports to transport ministers which have gone nowhere, and now the National Transport Commission has given representatives from the road transport industry a week’s notice to participate in a half-baked workshop to consider their proposed changes to fatigue management. 

“The proposed changes would see fatigue standard hours cut by 22 hours a week which would reduce the wages of truck drivers and drive transport companies to the wall.

“In one example, the NTC’s proposed ‘General Schedule’ would reduce the income of a typical local delivery driver by about $24,000 per year.

“I shudder to think how much this would reduce the wages of an interstate driver.

“At a time where we are already seeing the road transport industry having the living daylights squeezed out of it by those at the top of the supply chain, sham contracting on the rise and wage theft rampant, the failure of the NTC to deliver anything constructive since 2018 is a slap in the face to Australia’s essential truck drivers and transport companies.

“Rather than attempting to cut the wages of hard-working truck drivers and completely crushing any hope of sustainability for our transport companies, the Morrison-Joyce government and the NTC need to bin this review and respond seriously to the recommendations of the recent Senate report into the importance of a viable, safe, sustainable and efficient road transport industry.”

Read how industry views the HVNL process and Joyce’s intervention, here

While industry observers at Monday’s workshop were said to be struck a lack of preparedness on the part of NTC officials, the organisation itself appears sanguine amidst the strong responses.

“Monday’s workshop was well attended with stakeholders from industry and government,” NTC executive leader, regulatory reform Aaron de Rozario told ATN.

“It was incredibly useful for us as we worked through the issue of fatigue, one of the 6 key areas that make up the HVNL Safety and Productivity Program. 

“We saw strong representation from industry on heavy vehicle work and rest hours, in particular maximum weekly working hours, and this feedback has been heard.

“The importance of seeing the whole reform picture was well made. We thank all attendees for their time and contributions. 

“The HVNL will benefit from industry’s involvement and being part of the conversation all the way through.

“The NTC continues to work with closely with industry and jurisdictions to create a better HVNL.”


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