Labor pressured to set up new ‘safe rates’ trucking body

“This time we’re not only content with sufficient consultation, I do believe delivery can be improved to a point where it will satisfy the vast majority of people, make it safer on the road and make more likely to feed our family,” he said. TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the new Labor government had “pledged to act” on the Senate recommendations and called for industry-wide participation to ensure the new body was implemented “in the right way”. “It is crucial that an independent body is established urgently and with the support of industry participation to set enforceable standards in an effective and sustainable way,” he said.

The union said in the six years since the Coalition abolished the RSRT, 1061 people had been killed in truck crashes including 257 truck drivers. While Labor has promised to give the Fair Work Commission powers to set conditions for “employee like” workers – a measure that may cover owner-drivers – the TWU wants the new industry body to be a separate entity with specialist knowledge and powers to extend standards to employee drivers. According to the ALP’s 2021 platform, “a Federal Labor Government will, as a matter of urgency, legislate for a national system of Safe Rates consisting of an independent body with responsibility for safe standards of work including fair payments and conditions”.

A Senate committee last August, headed by Labor senator Tony Sheldon, recommended the government establish an independent road transport body to set “binding standards” for the industry, including pay, regardless of employment status.

It will boost enforcement to ensure compliance. Mr Hannifey said that “the RSRT had the best of intent but its delivery failed miserably”. “The [Turnbull] government jumped on it. [Then-Industrial Relations Minister] Michaelia Cash said how they were there for us but we never heard from them again,” he said.

He said with rising fuel and tyre costs and supply chain pressure to cut rates, drivers were under even more pressure to cut corners on safety. Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation secretary Peter Anderson, representing employers, said: “Finally, reform is on its way.” “If we all work together and contribute constructively to the formation of an independent body, we will all benefit from the protection of universal standards,” he said.

However, NatRoad, which spearheaded owner-driver opposition to the RSRT in 2016, warned it “remains opposed in-principle to a return of the RSRT or anything resembling it”. NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said heavy vehicle safety had improved significantly over the past decade, with the rate of truck crashes involving injury or death falling by about 40 per cent between 2009 and 2019, “NatRoad fully supports practical measures that will continue this trend.

Establishing a new industrial relations tribunal will not,” he said.