The Government plans to set up an ‘Office of Road Safety’ at a cost of $6 million with little explanation on what the office will do, only stating it will “facilitate a greater coordination and leadership role for the Government in road safety”. Funding will also go towards research on road safety, despite decades of research that already points to where the problem lies: financial pressure from wealthy companies at the top of the supply chain.
“At a time when we need urgent action to fix the crisis in trucking this budget has utterly failed our industry. There is no mention of how transport operators will be protected against the deadly financial squeeze by retailers, manufacturers, oil companies and others at the top which is killing our businesses and killing people on the roads. For an industry with the highest rate of workplace deaths there is no mechanism for addressing the risks to drivers and how to make their jobs safer. Drivers and transport operators need action, not platitudes or more research,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“If this is the Federal Government’s attempt to make up for its tearing down of a road safety watchdog three years ago then it is far off the mark. Since then 535 people have died in truck crashes, 115 of them drivers, and 1,045 businesses have become insolvent. This crisis is real and the Government is throwing money at projects that won’t solve it. We need accountability in our industry, transport operators are crying out for it and drivers are dying because of the lack of it. It is entirely shameful that the Federal Government continues to ignore our industry’s desperate needs,” Kaine added.
“The Opposition also plans to set up a National Office of Road Safety and has given details on how it would function and what it would do. The ALP plans for this body to operate in conjunction with a system of Safe Rates aimed at lifting standards in transport and tackling pressure on trucking from wealthy clients. Without this element, fundamental deadly risks will continue in trucking which no amount of new technologies or upgraded roads will fix,” he added.
Last weekend hundreds of truck drivers held convoys in all major capitals to highlight the crisis in trucking.