The Transport Workers’ Union strongly supports the industry-led request for a Senate inquiry into the road transport industry, as fears mount over the potential entry into the Australian market of Uber and Amazon’s freight systems.
The endorsement for an inquiry came from a transport industry forum meeting in Canberra yesterday involving over 30 representative bodies, including truck drivers, the TWU, transport operators, industry associations and retailers. The forum was organised by Senator Glenn Sterle, shadow minister for road safety.
The forum called for the inquiry to focus on the “importance of a viable, safe, sustainable and efficient road transport industry”, according to the terms of reference. It will examine “efficient cost-recovered measures for industry stakeholders, including sub-contractors”.
“Yesterday was a milestone for our industry as we came together and united to address the problems we have today and prepare ourselves for future threats. This is about lifting standards and it is about ensuring our industry is viable and safe. This inquiry will shine a light on what goes on in an industry when the profits of wealthy companies at the top are put ahead of people’s lives and the ability of transport companies to be safe and sustainable. I urge the Australian Parliament to approve this inquiry and allow it to start its work as soon as possible,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Wealthy supermarkets like Aldi, manufacturers and oil companies are continually lowering their contract rates which creates a deadly cocktail. It means transport operators are forced to delay maintenance on their trucks and it means that truck drivers are forced to speed, drive long hours and skip their rest breaks. We have an unbridled race to the bottom happening in road transport. We want this changed and we want standards lifted so safety can be prioritised and so transport operators can be sustainable businesses,” he said.
“Our industry needs regulation to ensure that the potential entry into the Australian market of Uber Freight and Amazon’s online freight system does not drive down standards further, obliterate our industry and result in even more deaths on our roads,” he added.
Since April 2016 when the Federal Government abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, 609 people have died in truck crashes, including 132 truck drivers. Since the start of this year 136 people have died in truck crashes including 36 truck drivers.
Insolvencies are also a major problem in transport because of low cost contracts. Over 1,000 businesses in transport, warehousing and postal industry have become insolvent since April 2016, while 136 such businesses have become insolvent between January and May this year, according to data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Click here for the terms of reference of the inquiry: https://www.twu.com.au/document/inquiry-terms-of-reference/
To view the post-forum press conference go to TWU facebook page: @TWUAus