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Transport commission axes proposal to reduce weekly hours

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After copping widespread industry criticism this week of a proposal to reduce truckies’ standard weekly working hours, the government body tasked with heading up the truck law review has announced a backflip.

In a media statement released today, the National Transport Commission said it has listened to industry feedback, and sought the views of jurisdictions, and will not propose a reduction in weekly hours of truck drivers to transport ministers.

“A number of fatigue issues were on the table at our workshop this week, and it was important to hear firsthand from industry, in their own words, why the current outer weekly limits for fatigue are fit for purpose for Australia and its particular geography and supply chains,” Dr Gillian Miles, NTC chief executive officer and commissioner said today.

The NTC heard that reducing the weekly hours of truck drivers from 72 hours to 60 could have perverse safety and productivity outcomes.

Some long-haul drivers couldn’t get back home in a 60-hour work week, while others may need to find a second job to bridge the pay gap – defeating the safety intent.

“Since Monday’s workshop, the NTC has considered the useful insights as well as seeking views from all participating jurisdictions. As a result, the NTC’s advice to the Infrastructure and Transport Ministers Meeting (ITMM) will be that the outer weekly limit for driving hours should remain at 72 hours,” Dr Miles said.

The NTC said it continues to work closely with industry and jurisdictions as part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Safety and Productivity Program to create a better national law.

Importantly, jurisdiction representatives were also in attendance to hear directly from industry.

“The NTC will continue to work with industry and jurisdictions to ensure a flexible and tiered approach to fatigue management that is suited to Australian conditions,” Dr Miles said.

The NTC said it has worked closely with industry since the HVNL review in 2019. It is through combining research and engagement from multiple sources that the NTC will be best placed to prepare detailed advice, and a draft law, for ministers, the statement added.

“The NTC will continue with a series of workshops because we need industry to be part of the conversation all the way through,” Dr Miles said.

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