Opinion

Regulation with more teeth

The one fundamental fact that the transport industry brings to every Australian is that without trucks, and without transport workers, Australia stops. 

With that in mind, we must now take the opportunity to help our industry out, to enforce job security and increase safety. 

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is fighting for reform alongside the industry and the change of government now presents us with that opportunity. 

In the past few years, members have been telling us that the work has not slowed down and the pressure on them as owner-drivers, or even employee drivers has remained relentless. The crisis caused by the pandemic and rising fuel prices is not going away.

The previous government failed to implement the recommendations of Without Trucks Australia Stops, a report by Senator Glenn Sterle into the state of the transport industry. 

This lack of response has only made the industry more dangerous. Now is the time for regulation that stops the ongoing collapse of industry standards. Now is the time for enforcement of what we have already won for transport workers. 

The need has never been clearer, particularly when owner-drivers and transport operators are taking massive financial hits from astronomical fuel prices and the ongoing financial mess caused by Transurban toll road agreements with the NSW Government. 

There is an obvious need for industry reform, that will positively influence safety and ensure proper payments and cost recovery is available for the job being done. 

It can be deadly for transport workers who are already on wafer thin margins, impacted by rocketing operating costs. 

The intervention by government to deliver a national regulatory system with teeth would ensure all road transport workers have access to enforceable minimum standards. 

It would protect the industry from the corporate giants who are seeking to undercut the industry and would strengthen the protections workers won in last year’s job security fight.

The Parliamentary Committee delivered a recommendation for an independent body that has the power to set enforceable standards that stop the squeeze on transport operators and reduces death and injuries on the roads.

Consultation – a conversation with all of the industry – is the key to reform. Senator Sterle built a series of recommendations that will build and strengthen jobs, make the industry safer and ensure the enforcement of binding standards that apply to all participants in the supply chain.

It is critical we hold the Albanese government to account to ensure the inquiry’s recommendations and reforms are implemented as soon as possible. 

The TWU is seeking the government’s timetable for the consultation of workers and the subsequent implementation of commitments to our industry. 

  • Richard Olsen is TWU NSW/QLD State Secretary

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