Opinion

Owner-drivers need relief from crippling toll costs

 Another column, and another fortnight where there is still deadly silence from the current federal government in regards to the support drivers in the transport industry need. 

As I have said before they need direct, targeted support as they try to keep alive, their safe and viable small businesses whilst continuing to do the job. 

It would not hurt government either, to consult the owner and employee drivers who could provide guidance, given the thousands of years of industry experience they have between them. 

We know the Senator Glenn Sterle inquiry produced a plan for the future of transport, that the industry likes, yet the response from the federal government provided in the dying hours of the last sitting day of parliament, rejects some recommendations and only ‘notes’ others. This is as useful as a loaded trailer sunk down to its axles in mud by the side of the road.

We need the work done, we need the industry to take a stand together to look after the men and women that drive business forward, those with their hands on the steering wheel. 

The TWU is saying it, others in the industry are saying it, the transport industry is “screaming for change”. Those in charge, those with the duty of care, appear not to give a rats for what those on the road go through every day. 

I came across this report in the Sydney Morning Herald. A journalist writes: “Truck drivers face going to the wall after the federal government failed to act on pre-budget warnings that its cut to fuel excise would not help the industry.” 

Our drivers are tired of being the punching bag for the profit makers.

Fuel costs are high, this is why the TWU sought for and won a rate increase under the General Carriers Contract Determination. 

Toll road costs are increasing. The TWU pointed out in January that the doubling and tripling of the cost Transurban Linkt toll roads over the next two decades would be most strongly felt by truck drivers and other heavy vehicle users who already pay triple the tolls of other vehicle users on most roads. Finally a NSW Treasury review is being announced. 

They will find what we have been telling them for years, there’s nothing more urgent for the government to do than provide relief to owner-drivers and transport operators who are being crippled by these massive toll road costs.

Despite the advocacy of the TWU and other industry organisations, truck drivers remain in a daily, hellish, grind to do their job, and they are being blatantly ignored by the federal government. 

Now is the time to speak to the election candidate handing out brochures at your local shopping centre about what their party plans to do for this industry. 

Its time, our industry deserves better and for our part, we will never stop fighting for fair working conditions and safe roads for our truck drivers their families.

  • Richard Olsen is TWU NSW/QLD State Secretary
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