Senate Report tabled, pushes for immediate government intervention

The Rural Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee has tabled its final report into the committee’s inquiry into the importance of a viable, safe, sustainable and efficient road transport industry.

The Report tabled said the inquiry had clearly demonstrated the need for immediate government intervention to change the operation, practice and safety culture of an industry that the entire country relies on.

Urgent proposals for reform put forward by submitters across all parts of the sector include a focus on making the industry sustainable, making training and safety the number one priority, and addressing the underlying causes of unsafe behaviour.

Established in September 2019, the inquiry came as a result of extensive consultation including at two Transport Industry Standards Forum’s, with state based and national transport associations, owner drivers, trainers, academics, transport companies and employers, industrial organisations and unions.

Over time, an overwhelming majority of participants agreed that a path forward for the transport industry was to push for the establishment of a Senate inquiry which would not only examine the many factors that confronted the industry at a national level, but would also produce recommendations as to how the industry could become more viable, safe, sustainable, efficient and profitable.

Over the course of this inquiry, 150 witnesses appeared before the committee across 11 public hearings around the nation, and also via tele and videoconference from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.

Of the 150 witnesses 37 appeared in their capacity as a truck driver.

The committee received 128 submissions overall and 58 of those submissions came from truck drivers.

The Report included ten recommendations ranging from the establishment of an independent body to set universal and binding standards of pay and the outlawing of unfair and unsafe contracts, to an expansion of the powers of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau which currently investigates air crashes to carry out independent, no-blame safety investigations of road crashes involving commercial heavy vehicles.

“I want to sincerely thank everyone who made a submission or appeared as a witness as well as the many people I have spoken to, the majority of them being truck drivers, over the course of this inquiry for being involved and having your say as to what needs to and can be done to improve the road transport industry for all, going forward,” said Committee Chair Senator Glenn Sterle, who is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine welcomed the recommendations, adding that for an independent body to succeed, it must be genuinely industry-led.

“This comprehensive report is emphatic in its portrayal of the transport industry and the regulatory requirements to fix deep-rooted, deadly pressures in transport supply chains,” Kaine said in a recently issued statement.

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