The TWU, ARTIO and NRFA have called for the Senate Select Committee responsible for a two-year in-depth trucking inquiry to urgently reconvene to ensure commitments to enforceable standards in trucking are prioritised by the Albanese Government, citing crippling fuel costs as grounds to proceed without delay.
In a joint letter, the transport coalition urged Committee Chair Senator Glenn Sterle to urgently reinstate its highly effective working group which brought the fractured industry together throughout the inquiry.
Crippling fuel costs are driving transport operators and truck drivers to the financial brink given the wafer-thin margins in the industry and absence of a mechanism to support effective cost recovery from the top of supply chains.
When money is tight, transport operators and drivers are pressured to cut corners on safety, delay maintenance on trucks, and drive faster for longer to make ends meet. Since the Senate Select Committee tabled its landmark Without Trucks, Australia Stops report, 140 people have been killed in truck-involved crashes – including 46 truck drivers.
The TWU and leading industry groups are calling on the Federal Government to act with haste to get a genuine consultation process off the ground, and create a timeline to introduce the life-saving road transport regulation needed to set universal, binding standards in the industry.
The TWU has also written to Minister for Workplace Relations Tony Burke and Minister for Transport Catherine King congratulating them on their Cabinet appointments and calling for immediate action on the Senate Inquiry’s recommendations with industry expert Senator Glenn Sterle leading the charge.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said: “While we welcome the swearing-in of the new Federal Government, there is no time to waste for it to deliver on the commitments it made to transport workers. Senator Glenn Sterle as chair of an inquiry that took a deep-dive into the trucking crisis earned the trust of all corners of the industry. Operators and drivers are battling existential fuel and inflation pressures right now. If we’re to get the regulation implemented in the timeframe we need it to save trucking jobs, businesses and lives, we need that working group reconvened as a matter of urgency.
‘The Morrison Government left the Senate’s workable blueprint to gather dust while operators went bust and drivers died. The Albanese Government must not make the same mistake,’ Kaine said.
Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation Secretary Peter Anderson said: ‘On day one of the new cabinet, we’re here to make sure commitments to ensure cost recovery in trucking supply chains is at the top of this Government’s to-do list, because the industry is at crisis point. Operators are being forced to absorb costs they can’t afford, with no legal mechanism to fairly recover the financial burden through their transport contracts. The new Federal Government must strike while the iron is hot to back the industry which came together like never before to call for solutions to the economic pressures making trucking so deadly.’
President of the National Road Freighters Association Rod Hannifey said: ‘Many truck drivers and operators voted for the Labor Government to ensure we had the mandate to make real change in trucking so that it can be a safe and viable industry for years to come. The consultation process on industry reform needs to start today. The industry came together during the Senate Inquiry process and presented a united front. We need the Federal Government, led by Senator Glenn Sterle, to work with the same consultative spirit to get this done. With fuel costs through the roof and likely to remain high for some time, operators need to know they can recover those costs from their clients without losing contracts in the future.’