As uncertainty and scandal rocked the political scene last week, controversial Senate committee recommendations surfaced with little fanfare.
While many in the industry may have accepted the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) would have been raised again in the event of a change of government, they may not have foreseen the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee advising the formation of something altogether heftier in its Aspects of road safety in Australia report.
And the issue of ‘safe rates’, fought for hard and long by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), is in the mix.
The senator Glenn Sterle-chaired committee’s seventh recommendation in a total of 12 call for the federal government to “convene a series of industry-led roundtables to make recommendations to government to establish an independent industry body which has the power to formulate, implement and enforce supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry”.
The report states: “In the committee’s view, urgent and cooperative action is required across government to address, in particular, the issues of payment terms, chain of responsibility legislation and the use of electronic work diaries.”
The committee, according to ATN, also has stern words for developments that promise to disrupt the industry or bring new pressures to bear on the transport task, with sales giant Amazon being name-checked.
“In an industry where low profit margins place considerable financial pressures on truck drivers while at the same time, demands on them continue to grow, the ‘two-day turnaround’ has a significant impact on industry safety and profitability,” it says.
While the committee started out three years ago looking at road trauma costs, vehicle design safety and other road safety issues, it was soon focused on truck driver certification and licensing as a scandal in that sphere emerged.
Tackling the weaknesses in that system makes up the bulk of the committee’s advice.
The full list of recommendations is:
- the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport initiate discussion on road trauma funding at the Council of Australian Governments Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) with a view to encouraging effective investment in road trauma funding across the nation.
- the Australian Government commit to a robust set of national minimum safety standards for all vehicles, including second hand vehicles and the government fleet, as part of its proposed reform of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.
- the Australian Government explore methods to introduce Australian Design Rules (ADRs) in a timely manner to ensure that Australia benefits from, and keeps pace with, international developments in vehicle safety technology.
- if not adequately addressed through the recommendations of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection comprehensively review visa arrangements to address systematic or organised abuse in the transport industry.
- all visa holders with heavy vehicle driving licences undergo driver skill tests before their heavy vehicle driving licences are recognised in Australia.
- legislation in South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory be amended (consistent with other state and territory jurisdictions) to ensure that overseas drivers who fail a driving test are no longer allowed to use their overseas licence to drive in Australia.
- the Australian Government convene a series of industry-led roundtables to make recommendations to government to establish an independent industry body which has the power to formulate, implement and enforce supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry.
- the Australian Government convene a series of industry-led roundtables to make recommendations to government on ways to strengthen the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
- informed by industry roundtables, the Australian Government amend the Heavy Vehicle National Law to address issues throughout the supply chain in the transport industry including chain of responsibility, minimum payment terms of 30 days and electronic work diaries.
- the Austroads review consider: raising the standard required of heavy vehicle drivers under the Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA), with a renewed focus on safety; national consistency in relation to heavy vehicle instructor or assessor eligibility, including requiring mandatory industry experience in driving and handling the appropriate vehicle.
- the Austroads review, the committee recommends that the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council work to ensure that all jurisdictions adopt the revised criteria of the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework (NHVDC Framework) as a matter of urgency.
- the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) take a more active role in monitoring the delivery of heavy vehicle training undertaken by registered training organisations and other providers.