A transport industry delegation is holding a vigil on the lawns of Parliament House today to remember 235 people killed in transport-related crashes in 2023, including 54 truck drivers and four transport gig workers.
The group will symbolise the 58 workers killed by laying out high-vis vests, alongside 177 white t shirts to represent other road users killed in truck crashes.
The vigil comes as Parliament returns this week, with the Senate still to vote on the Closing Loopholes Bill, legislation that the union sees as “lifesaving reform to set safe, fair and sustainable standards in transport”, including the gig economy.
“We remember those tragically killed on our roads and pay our respects to their families,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
“Deadly pressures in transport have gone unaddressed for years, resulting in fatal crashes and business insolvencies that could have been prevented.
“The tragic losses we’ll symbolise with clothing on the lawns of Parliament House are a reminder that throughout the political debate on reform to establish safer standards in trucking, people have been dying. Workers killed while trying to make a sustainable living, and men, women and children killed just trying to get from A to B.”
A transport industry delegation including TWU transport employees, owner-drivers and gig workers, employer associations ARTIO, NatRoad and Queensland Trucking Association, and owner-driver representatives from the National Road Freighters Association, will also hold parliamentary briefings this week urging parliamentarians to pass the Closing Loopholes legislation.
Since the start of 2016, the union says 1496 people have died in truck crashes in Australia – on average, a person killed every two days.
Transport insolvencies are on the rise, with ASIC reporting 347 insolvencies for FY22-23 compared with 196 the previous year, the union added.
“This reform has come from the industry – recommended by a three-year Senate inquiry and endorsed by transport workers, major transport clients, employer and owner driver associations, and academics. Enforcing safer, fairer and more sustainable standards will save lives and businesses,” Kaine said.
“This is a crisis that requires urgent action. We urge crossbenchers to pass this legislation.”