Release date: 15/02/2012

The Road Safety Remuneration Bill presents a historic opportunity for politicians on all sides to support legislation which will make our roads safer for every Australian and to stand up to major retail bullies such as Coles. That’s according to Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

Tony Sheldon was speaking today (15.2.12) prior to the TWU’s appearance before the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications to speak in favour of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill.


“We have had more than 20 years of cross party reports, inquiries and coronial reports which have identified the link in the transport industry between safety and rates of pay. The dangerous conditions and excessive hours demanded by major retailers such as Coles are directly responsible for carnage on our roads. An average of 330 people are killed and more than 5300 are injured each year on our roads as a result of heavy vehicle incidents. This crisis on our roads is devastating families and communities and costs the Australian taxpayer more than $2.7 billion each year.”


“Major retailers, such as Coles, are using their economic power to try to dictate to drivers and transportation companies, demanding dangerous delivery schedules and forcing drivers to queue unpaid for hours to load and unload. The Road Safety Remuneration Bill will address these issues. There is widespread industry support for this Bill, with everyone from owner drivers to major transportation companies fed up at the underhand tactics and demands of major retailers.”


Tony was joined by a number of truck drivers, who have travelled to Canberra from across the country to speak out on the dangers in the industry and to ask all politicians, regardless of affiliation to support safe rates and safe roads. One such driver, Frank Black from Brisbane and the owner-driver representative of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) commented, “Safe Rates are a very important step in the industry, one which should have happened 30 years ago. In my role as ATA rep I talk to lots of owner-drivers who are suffering from dangerous client pressures and poor pay which forces people to compromise on safety. Companies should not be allowed to put profit ahead of lives.”


Tony Sheldon concluded “I am grateful to the truckies who have joined me in Canberra to give the real story of their industry and why we need reform. Major retailers, such as Coles, have such economic power that they can dictate across the supply chain, from transport to milk to vegetables. Their bully-boy tactics and demands are leading to death, devastation and danger across Australia. Truckies are not machines; they deserve decent pay and conditions. I am hoping that politicians from every side will join with Australian communities in supporting this legislation.”






·         The TWU will give evidence on the Road Safety Remuneration Bill to the Standing Commitee on Infrastructure and Communications from approx 4.10pm today, Wednesday, 15 February.


·         The Bill will be debated by both Houses of Parliament in the coming weeks. The Road Safety Remuneration Bill enjoys widespread support from industry associations and leaders, including:


·         The Australian Industrial Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) (which is the recognised peak industrial employer body for road transport)


·         The Victorian Transport Association (VTA)


·         Australian Trucking Association Board member and President of the Queensland Trucking Association QTA (Tim Squires)


·         Linfox President of Industrial Relations, Chair of the Transport & Logistics Industry Skills Council and President of ARTIO NSW (Laurie D'Apice)


·         Port Operator and CEO of the Australian Container Freight Services ACFS (Arthur Tzaneros)

·         Executive Director of the Australian Livestock Transporters Association, former director of the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (Philip Halton)


·       Examples of evidence from over 20 years of commissions, coroners reports and Inquiries:


The 2008 Report from The Hon Lance Wright QC and Professor Michael Quinlan:

“This Review finds... solid survey evidence linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use.”


The 1991 Federal Department of Transport and Communications report, Long Distance Truck Drivers: On road performance and economic reward: “Any deviation from a fixed salary tends to encourage practices designed to increase economic reward which are not synergetic with reducing exposure to risk.”


The NSW Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch commented in 2005 after the tragic deaths of a number of employee drivers: “As long as driver payments are based on a (low) rate per kilometer there will always be an incentive for drivers to maximize the hours they drive, not because they are greedy but simply to earn a decent wage.”


Sworn testimony from Associate Professor Michael Belzer of University of Michigan before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission Mutual Responsibility For Road Safety Case, 2006: “...Every 10% more that drivers earn in pay rate is associated with an 18.7% lower probability of crash, and for every 10% more paid days off the probability of driver crashes declines 6.3%.”


For further information, please contact: Barry Dunning, Press Officer, TWU, Tel: 0408 463 199, email:


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