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Issue #1727      April 20, 2016

Road Safety

Union slams plan to abolish watchdog

The Transport Workers’ Union has slammed Malcolm Turnbull over his announcement that he intends to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, on the eve of the government’s own consultation process on the tribunal.

“Malcolm Turnbull is de-funding and abolishing independent judicial investigations into holding banks, oil companies, retailers, manufacturers, and ports and wharves to account for unsafe, economic pressure on their transport supply chains. These are the same people who bankroll the Coalition’s Liberal National Party,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.

The move will devastate truck drivers in transport sectors around Australia, desperate for the minimum safe rates which will tackle the root causes of the high death toll in truck crashes on the roads and bankruptcies and suicides among drivers.

“The Prime Minister’s own reports show that road transport has the ‘highest fatality rates of any industry in Australia’ with 12 times the average for all industries. His own reports show that this Tribunal will reduce truck crashes by 28 percent. Yet he is attacking the Tribunal – the one body which can provide a solution. It is clear he is doing this because this Tribunal will hold the major companies which are his party’s donors to account for the low cost contracts they give out to transport operators,” said Sheldon.

Waste driver Jeff Oudsen said that change in the industry was desperately needed. “Drivers are being pushed to go over their hours and take risks. This is impacting on the safety of drivers and members of the public. I’d like Malcolm Turnbull to put himself in our seat and do what we do every day and tell us we don’t need change and that we don’t need this Tribunal,” he said.

Drivers from the cash delivery sector, ports, delivery of fuel, waste, retail and manufacturers have called on the Prime Minister to sit down with them to discuss ways of tackling the crisis in transport, without getting rid of the one body which is already doing this.

Tony Sheldon said the Prime Minister had to stop using the issue as a political football. “A couple of weeks ago the truck drivers of Australia never heard from Malcolm Turnbull. Today he is ignoring the crisis they face in terms of the highest workplace deaths, chronic fatigue, stress, mental health problems, suicide and bankruptcies. He is also choosing to ignore the thousands of families left devastated by truck crashes who want to see change,” he said.

Armoured car driver Scott McIntyre involved in the delivery of cash and valuables said abolishing the Tribunal would devastate drivers in the sector. “For two years the Tribunal has been investigating safety in my sector with evidence presented on banks moving cash at reduced rates, cutting back on safety and putting lives at risk. If this Tribunal is abolished myself and my colleagues will leave the sector because we won’t be prepared to put our lives at risk,” he said.

Owner driver Ray Childs said he operates in NSW where a minimum rate has already applied for 30 years to drivers and this has improved the industry. “Minimum rates need to apply nationally to lift standards and ensure people can pay themselves and pay their overheads. Otherwise you get a race to the bottom and safety is sacrificed,” he said.

Next article – Tilling the soil of Cuban cooperation

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