Opinion

Industry let down again with another hollow announcement

hollow

The road transport industry has been let down yet again following the latest hollow announcement by the Morrison government.

Yesterday, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce issued a media release announcing $250 million for initiatives that will allegedly “improve roads and keep freight moving.”

While I welcome any funding that goes towards improving road safety more broadly, this announcement does nothing to address the more substantive issues which have hindered the safety, viability, productivity, sustainability and profitability of the road transport industry throughout the life of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments.

Let’s be clear, the Coalition government has not prioritised any of this funding directly to the construction or development of new rest areas for truck drivers.

While this funding can be used for such projects, and while the Australian Trucking Association might be quick to claim that this funding means that more truck rest areas are on the way, there is absolutely no guarantee that this is going to happen anytime soon.

Our essential truck drivers have done it tough throughout the pandemic. While being away from their families delivering our goods, they’ve been refused access to showers, toilets and even dine-in food options while they stop for their managed fatigue breaks.

Drivers continue to get fined ridiculous amounts of money just for incorrectly spelling the names of towns in their log books.

Drivers continue to get cut out of work by the rat bags engaging in sham contracting and phoenixing leading to wage and superannuation theft, and drivers, owner drivers and transport companies continue to suffer financial pressures with ridiculous payment terms handed down to them by those squeezing from the top of the supply chain.

They need action now.

What is the Coalition government’s plan for the future of the road transport industry in Australia?

Where is the Coalition government’s plan to address rampant wage and superannuation theft and sham contracting?

And finally, where is the Coalition government’s plan to attract more drivers into the road transport industry?

The Coalition government might think that this latest hollow announcement will lead to greater productivity and a boost for the economy, but unless the issues I’ve outlined above are addressed, the road transport industry in Australia will continue to decline.

Recently, Anthony Albanese announced that a future Labor government will legislate to criminalise wage theft.

A November 2019 report by PwC found that the underpayment of Australian workers’ entitlements was estimated at $1.35 billion per year.

This is criminal and I want to work to fix this.

Only an Albanese Labor government has a plan for the road transport industry in Australia.

About the author:

Former truckie Glenn Sterle is the Labor Senator for Western Australia, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, and chair of the Senate Rural Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee.

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