TWU welcomes road improvements, debunks ‘zero fatalities’ hyperbole

The Transport Workers’ Union has spoken out against the Transport Minister Michael McCormack’s claims that budget investment in roads will put Australia on a path to zero fatalities by 2050 while pressures in trucking supply chains are ignored.

Since the LNP Government tore down a road safety watchdog in 2016, more than 800 people have been killed in truck crashes.

TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said the budget investment in road upgrades is important, but trucking will continue to rack up hundreds of road fatalities every year unless pressures in the industry are tackled.

“Investment in road improvements is very welcome and long overdue. However, calling this a life-saving initiative that will put Australia on a path to achieve zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 is not so much a stretch as it is hyperbolic PR spin.

“The LNP Government tore down a road safety watchdog years ago that was tasked with ensuring safety throughout trucking supply chains. Since that watchdog was abolished, more than 800 people have been killed in truck crashes on Australian roads. Of those, 174 were truck drivers.

“We are still waiting for the Federal Government to put something in place of the watchdog, which would have held clients at the top of trucking supply chains to account for safety.

“Trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry riddled with fatal pressures like fatigue, low pay and tight deadlines that force many truck drivers to speed and skip rest breaks. Although road improvements are crucial to improving safety, we will not be on a path to zero fatalities until these deadly pressures in trucking are addressed and those responsible held to account,” McIntosh said.

The TWU and National Road Freighters Association recently signed an agreement to fight for a safer industry.

The MoU recognises that “economic and contractual practices are placing unsustainable pressures on transport operators and workers and contributing to thousands of transport operators going bankrupt not to mention the injuries and deaths of thousands of transport workers and users every year”.

It adds: “The Australian Government and existing regulatory models have failed to respond to this crisis and the need for regulatory intervention has never been stronger.”

The TWU and the NRFA have already formed a unified position on the ACCC attack on an owner driver, threatened with jail for writing an opinion article about the problem of low rates and the impact this has on safety. Both organisations wrote a joint letter to the ACCC outlining the problems with low rates and requesting a response on the regulator’s over-reach. The ACCC has failed to provide an adequate response to questions.

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