More red tape won’t improve truckie safety: employer rep

Analysis

More red tape won’t improve truckie safety: employer rep

The proposed carbon tax will endanger truck drivers unless the government establishes a system for enforcing ‘safe’ pay rates, their union has claimed.

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The proposed carbon tax will endanger truck drivers unless the government establishes a system for enforcing ‘safe’ pay rates, their union has claimed.
 
However, the peak body for freight transport and supply chain companies has accused the union of using the tax as a ‘Trojan horse’ to introduce unrealistic regulations that will have no actual safety outcomes for workers.

The Transport Workers Union has long advocated a safe rates system — wherein, truck drivers receive full-cost recovery for the work they perform — to deter dangerous driving practices in the road transport industry including speeding, fatigue and illicit substance use. More recently, the union has argued that the cost pressures imposed by the carbon tax will further endanger owner drivers and employee drivers in the absence of safe rates.

According to the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO, Michael Kilgariff, the ongoing debates around the carbon tax and Safe Rates ‘should be kept separate’.

Safe rates and carbon tax are ‘separate’ issues

‘The TWU’s campaign to use the carbon tax to pressure the Government on Safe Rates is a clever ploy, but in reality, the two are very separate issues and should be treated as such,’ Kilgariff said.

‘It is disingenuous to argue, as the TWU does, that cost increases in the heavy vehicle industry brought about by a carbon price justify the introduction of a highly regulated rate setting regime for truck drivers.’

‘Government should see this carbon price campaign by the TWU for what it really is — an attempt to blur the two issues in order to push through an un-costed proposal that cannot be implemented and will not deliver additional safety outcomes over the current statutory schemes.’

‘No case’ for further regulation

Kilgariff rejected that the cost increases associated with the carbon tax would cause driver fatality rates to ‘go through the roof’ without safe rates, as was recently claimed by TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon on Sky News.

‘There is no case for yet another entirely new layer of regulation, when other regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms which have been (or are being) introduced to deal with the issue of safety appear to be working,’ he said.

‘There are a range of strategies to improve industry safety, including through improved road user education and training, but the creation of additional layers of regulation that cannot be implemented in the real world will not help,’ he said.

‘Furthermore, the introduction of a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which will include national Chain of Responsibility legislation and the National Work Health & Safety Act will impose a duty on transport and logistics participants to eliminate or minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, health and safety risks.’

‘Superior’ alternative to safe rates proposed

According to Kilgariff, the ALC has ‘spearheaded’ the introduction of a number of mechanisms to improve driver safety, including the National Logistics Safety Code, which ‘provides industry with a simple, equitable and effective way to improve and maintain safety across the supply chain’.

‘In a complex working environment this self-regulating mechanism is a proven way to deliver enhanced safety across industry, and in ALC’s view, would deliver superior safety results to a tribunal tasked with setting rates of drivers’ pay,’ he said.

‘This position has been supported by numerous industry leaders in their submissions to the Government’s “Safe Rates Safe Roads Directions Paper” and we are pleased the Government is taking the time to consider the matter further,’ he said.
 
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