“My thoughts are with the families left devastated by these tragedies which have to be fully investigated. Nineteen people have been killed since the Federal Government last month tore down the Safe Rates system, aimed at tackling deaths in truck crashes,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The crash in Queensland today involved a collision between a car and a truck from waste company, JJ Richards, at Peak Crossing on the intersection of Ipswich-Boonah Road and Mount Flinders Road. JJ Richards has a history of unsafe practices and was convicted previously of victimizing whistleblowers who were exposing problems in the company. The TWU Queensland branch named the company worst employer of the year in 2012 and 2013.
“The Safe Rates system was investigating unsafe practices in the waste industry and was about to reform this sector. Like other transport sectors there is no system now capable of holding wealthy clients at the top to account for low cost contracts which forces drivers to take risks, such as speeding, driving long hours, skipping breaks and skipping maintenance on their vehicles,” he added.
“One in five transport operators say they break safety rules to meet deadlines, according to Safe Work Australia, and we are seeing the evidence of this in the death toll on the roads. This Government has turned its back on the community by failing to prioritise road safety over support for their rich donors among wealthy clients,” he added.
Waste driver Jeff Oudsen said change in the industry was desperately needed. “Drivers are being pushed to go over their hours and take risks. This is impacting on the safety of drivers and members of the public,” he said.
The Government’s own reports released recently show that road transport has the “highest fatality rates of any industry in Australia” with 12 times the average for all industries. The reports also show the link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%.
In March 25 people were killed in truck crashes across Australia; in April there were 24 deaths.