Driver training, News, Truck driver

Operators need to step up to address driver shortage, says Ron Finemore

Prominent transport operator Ron Finemore has said that other fleet owners need to step up to help address the serious truck driver shortage in Australia.

Finemore, who founded Ron Finemore Transport in 2004, said the road transport industry is in “intensive care” and operators need to work with the government, regulators and other transport bodies to save it.  

“I had a couple of phone calls last week from other operators,” said Finemore at the Australian Trucking Association’s annual conference, Trucking Australia 2024, in response to a presentation given by Austroads about licensing reforms.

“They said ‘The bloody NHVR is hopeless’ and asked me what I am going to do about truck licensing.  

“I said, ‘Well what are you bloody doing about it?’” 

Finemore owns a fleet of 290 trucks, operating in and out of the Albury-Wodonga region along the east coast of Australia, and the driver shortage has seriously affected his business.  

He told the Canberra conference that he is 100 drivers short of what he needs, and said most operators he knows are also struggling to hire enough drivers.  

The proposed Austroads reforms include standardising truck driver training and testing across the states and territories, introducing a “recognised country” scheme for heavy vehicles, and changing the rules around upgrading licence classes so drivers can progress to the next licence class in a shorter time frame, if they can demonstrate enough driving experience.  

Finemore said these are all good ideas, but they are going to take too long to implement.

“We’ve been talking about these things for a long time, and we’re not getting progression,” he said.  

“The issue of the shortage of drivers is getting worse, and the quality of the drivers is getting worse.” 

Finemore said that he employs 355 drivers from the Indian subcontinent, who have helped with his driver shortage problem.  

“It’s a big number,” he said. 

“Some of them have been with us over ten years, and the large majority are very good people.  

“They are no different from anybody else. They want to work, they want to earn a living.” 

He operates a buddy driver training program and ensures that all of his employees understand Australian safety standards. 

“We ensure they have an Australian licence. They don’t work for us unless they have that.

“We have buddy drivers that get paid a high level of money to take them with them, and they sign off on them. So they are taking responsibility.  

“We try to teach them the safety culture that we have in our company.” 

He said he sees opportunities for pilot schemes, for both younger drivers and overseas drivers.  

“I think there’s an opportunity to get a state to do it, and you could restrict it to accredited companies.

“You can hold those companies responsible for who we employ and how we do it.  

“I’m sure there’s plenty of people that would like to do that. We’ve really got to help.

“We need a short-term, medium-term and long-term situation, or else we’re going to be in real trouble and the safety issues are just going to get worse.” 

For more on this story, and others from this week’s conference in Canberra, grab your free copy of the May 12 issue of Big Rigs from your usual outlet.  

5 Comments

  1. Pay ya drivers properly respect ya drivers don’t treat them like slaves that want to live in you’re truck .I’ve got twenty years roadtrain experience over twenty years removals eight years managing director sole owner an I was at mt karringai at 15 thought this was the industry for me now it s just shit scaleies coppers shit bosses shit pay for the time ya away from home shit food no respect I’m 61 now an over it

  2. In relation to what Ron Finnenmore said I do agree with most of it. As a retired of 46 years heavy vehicle driver and driver trainer/Assessor of over 25 years, I believe that the training system around Australia has to be uniform and get rid of the 2 bob training people who are just in for the money and have no professional altitude about the industry.
    But also most companies have to start giving more to drivers to attract them. I found that most drivers you train only last a few years because they are burnt out and can obtain better conditions elsewhere.
    I know a lot of older retired drivers that would love to be back on the road again but because of the ridiculous pension system it is not worth it because of the very small amount of money they can earn before they loose the pension.
    I believe Ron and fellow large & small should be putting a LOT of pressure on the gov to allowed retired heavy vehicle people to earn a reasonable amount per week.
    Ron and Co were able to allow foreign drivers to come into Aust well how about getting what I have stated and then all companies will still be short of drivers but not nearly as many.
    Also when you are able to obtain an older driver LOOK AFTER THEM and don’t burn them out as you do with most other drivers.
    Improving the training system is only the first step. You all MUST start offering more to attract drivers. I am writing this
    from 46 years in the industry
    and talk to many people.
    I am happy to talk to those that will listen to common sense and not use the usual excuses why they can’t.
    Michaelellis8@bigpond.com

  3. I had my road train licence down graded over time due too changes in licensing, then I had too take a tablet ,due too a slight condition, vicroads has taken away my articulated semi licence, now I have to provide a medical just to stay on the road in my car , I have no driving issues a short roadside break can’t fix , . How many others are type cast and restricted due too strict legislation,

  4. Wow, something I raised years ago after finally pulling the pin as a driver, sick of the low per KM rate which included unpaid pickups and deliveries, poor truck maintenance and the attitude if you don’t do it someone else will….well… now you don’t have anyone to do it, was it worth screwing over the old school drivers for your own pocket. Ron, your guilty of this too, as are toll, linfox, Lindsay bros and many other companies screwing drivers and contractors into BS rates… another problem is drivers don’t stick together anymore, no more blockade of Gundagai bridge to make a point. That was a warning to the industry to pull their finger out, treat drivers better or else and now I watch imported drivers struggle to hook up a b double or reverse a single trailer into a driveway without 100 acres of clearance to make it work… so I jumped ship….im home nightly, earn better money and not trying to run 3 log books to stay legal because of greedy owners and CEOs who didn’t care about the drivers but only their own pocket… how does it feel to be 100 drivers short???? Was yours and others behaviour really worth pushing multiple generations out of trucks and keeping their kids away from the BS too???? And as for places like Sydney and Melbourne where drivers struggle to park up for a decent rest and feed, or even a shower and toilet, have to squat on the side of the road because to this government and companies, long haul drivers don’t matter… after over 3 million kms, experienced double, triple road train and heavy haulage, I got out. Not many can reverse a double train onto a 3rd trailer. I could but you don’t like paying for experienced drivers and I don’t like rice that much to only earn a bowl a day… and from what I read about the NHVR…that’s the biggest joke in the whole world, a circus is run better than that lot.

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