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Coalition snubs Senate report into trucking industry

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Six months to the day that an extensive Senate inquiry report into the industry was tabled with the federal government, truckies are still being largely ignored by Canberra.

That’s the message today from inquiry chair, WA Senator Glenn Sterle, and the Transport Workers’ Union in coinciding statements marking the semi-anniversary of the Without Trucks Australia Stops report.

“Scott Morrison and the current Minister for Transport Barnaby Joyce have completely snubbed and disrespected the road transport industry by not responding to the inquiry’s report and recommendations which they received last August,” said Sterle.

“One key recommendation of the report was that the government must consult with drivers and the industry.

“In their initial response to the final report, LNP Senators who served on the committee took absolute offence to this recommendation and did not agree with its inclusion in the report. If that is not total disrespect to truck drivers and the transport industry, I don’t know what is.”

The union said that the Prime Minister’s refusal to implement the recommendations of a landmark Senate report is ramping up the deadly pressure on truckies.

Since the report was tabled, 87 people have died in truck-involved crashes, including 32 truck drivers.

“These figures mark a sharp incline in the rate of truck driver deaths, with one truckie killed on average every six days since the inquiry made its final recommendations – an increase from the average rate over the last five years from one death every 10 days,” said the TWU statement.

The report sets out several key reform paths to lift industry standards. At its heart is a recommendation the federal government establish an independent body to create and enforce universal binding standards in road transport.

“The federal government has so far only cherrypicked recommendations like the establishment of an apprenticeship scheme for road transport, but has failed to act decisively to end the social, economic and contracting pressures which make transport Australia’s deadliest industry.”

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said ‘go-slow’ showed the government wasn’t on the side of truckies, or the industry.

“Truck drivers have never been more fatigued, less financially secure and under greater pressure from companies at the top than they are today. When you couple these crippling pressures with gig bottom feeders like Amazon undercutting the industry at every opportunity, it’s no wonder truckies are leaving transport in droves.”

“This isn’t some fringe report. The inquiry was widely supported and its recommendations endorsed by workers and the industry. It’s a workable blueprint for a fairer and more sustainable road transport industry that’s now just gathering dust on the Prime Minister’s shelf.”

The six-month milestone comes following a series of devastating truck crashes in recent weeks, including a collision between two road trains on the Kamilaroi Highway in NSW which killed two drivers, and a head-on smash killing two drivers in Wowan in Queensland.

So far in 2022, 31 people have died in truck-involved crashes, including 10 truck drivers.

“I am sick and tired of seeing this government use our essential truckies and the transport industry as a photo opportunity,” added Sterle, a former truckie himself.

“They are there when it suits their own interests but couldn’t give a stuff about the day-to-day struggles truckies and transport operators face.”

“How much more neglect do truckies have to endure before Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce pull their fingers out and address the myriad of issues which confront the road transport industry?”

Big Rigs has approached the office of Joyce and Assistant Minister for Road Safety Scott Buchholz for comment.

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