Photo courtesy of The Age


January 4, 2018


Liberal backbencher Sarah Henderson this week called for a review of international driver’s license rules and said international tourists should have to prove their driving skills before being able to hire a car.

The member for Corangamite wrote on her Facebook page: “A crackdown on international drivers is necessary and required. Very concerned that Lisa Neville MP and the Daniel Andrews govt does not believe this is a priority. Every life on our road matters.”

Ms Henderson was reacting to accidents involving tourists in her electorate, which includes the Great Ocean Road, but the comments were made at the same time quarterly statistics were released by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showing NSW truck deaths have increased by more than 86 per cent in 12 months.

This is by far the biggest increase since at least 2009 when the federal government first started releasing counts of fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles. These deaths certainly do matter and most are preventable, but only if we have strong national laws, and effective safety watchdogs, to keep our roads safe.

The TWU reminds Ms Henderson she is a member of a Coalition Government that in April 2016 tore down the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

The RSRT was the only national body that policed unfair economic pressure on drivers but the Coalition would not continue to let the national safety watchdog do its work in saving lives on Australia’s roads.

Truck driving is Australia’s most dangerous industry, with a fatality rate 15 times higher than the national average.

And the BITRE statistics prove it has gotten a whole lot more dangerous.

The TWU warned the Government that abolishing the RSRT would make the roads more dangerous for all road users and lead to more devastating accidents, deaths and injuries.

Labor Senator Glenn Sterle was also quick to comment on Ms Henderson’s suggestions.

Senator Sterle pointed out that he had chaired the Rural and Regional Affairs Transport References Committee that probed the issue for truck drivers and “some of our recommendations go to what you are calling for”.

Specifically, the committee recommended “that all visa holders with heavy vehicle driving licences undergo driver skill tests before their heavy vehicle driving licences are recognised in Australia.”

It also recommended that, informed by industry roundtables, the Australian Government should amend the Heavy Vehicle National Law to address issues throughout the supply chain in the transport industry.

The Committee’s report was tabled in the Federal Senate last October and the Committee still awaits an official response from the Transport Minister – who was Darren Chester at the time but is now Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

More than a few social media users pointed out that Ms Henderson’s own party had the opportunity to endorse the Committee’s recommendations.

For over 20 years TWU members have been fighting for safe, fair rates for truck drivers and safer roads for all Australians.

Safe Rates guarantees that every truckie on our roads is behind the wheel of a well-maintained vehicle, won’t have to risk falling asleep on the job just to make a living and isn’t trying to meet an impossible deadline.

For every truck driver – from employee to subbie – to have rates and conditions of work that ensure they’re paid for every hour, every kilometre and every cost.

Back to you, Ms Henderson.

To view the full list of Committee recommendations, click here.

Photo courtesy of The Age

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