After a nationwide set of discussions the transport industry report published by the Rural Regional Affairs & Transport References Committee tabled its final report from the committee’s inquiry into the importance of a viable, safe, sustainable and efficient road transport industry.
The Chair of the Committee is Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety Senator, Glenn Sterle, and during the course of this inquiry, 150 witnesses appeared before the committee across 11 public hearings around the nation, including in Albury-Wodonga, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and also via tele and videoconference from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.
37 of the 150 witnesses appeared in their capacity as a truck driver. The committee received 128 submissions overall and 58 of those submissions came from truck drivers.
The inquiry came as a result of extensive consultation over many months, including at two Transport Industry Standards Forum’s, with state based and national transport associations, owner drivers, trainers, academics, transport companies and employers, industrial organisations and unions.
The Senate inquiry not only examined the many factors that confront the industry at a national level, but also produced recommendations as to how the industry could become more viable, safe, sustainable, efficient and profitable.
The Report has made ten comprehensive recommendations to Government which are based on extensive research and evidence taken from witnesses and submissions.
The committee recommends that the government establishes or empowers an independent body that will, in consultation with industry, set universal and binding standards (including binding standards with respect to pay), which ensure the safe performance of work and eliminate unsafe economic and contracting practices and apply to all road transport supply chain participants. This should also act as a dispute resolution body providing all road transport industry participants access to comprehensive binding dispute resolution.
The committee recommends that the proposed initial priorities of the independent body should:
- Ensure that all workers, whether owner drivers or employee drivers, are paid for all work time, including driving and non-driving time, and institute a system of demurrage rates to help drivers and operators recoup costs for waiting and loading times.Plus,establish binding industry payment terms ensuring that all road transport workers and operators are paid in full upon-delivery.
- An effective standard-setting body must be underpinned by robust and adequately resourced enforcement mechanisms, an effective enforcement framework to ensure compliance with standards
- providing the Fair Work Ombudsman with resources to conduct a review of independent contracting arrangements in the road transport industry in order to eliminate sham-contracting.
- The government to work with state and territory governments to introduce a standardised, universal and compulsory safety induction unit for the road transport sector, with an industry skills passport for recording these and all other induction and training credentials. A review of the Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework and licensing arrangements and implements the results as a priority, to develop a national apprenticeship scheme for the road transport industry and develop safe strategies for enabling 16 to 18 year old’s to train on forklifts.
- Establish a robust investigatory, reporting and data collection system, while expanding the powers of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to carry out independent, no-blame safety investigations of road crashes involving commercial heavy vehicles, ensuring all commercial vehicle crashes are recognised, treated and investigated as workplace accidents.
- Develop road infrastructure and driver facilities, delivering a safe, sustainable and productive road transport sector, including a set of national guidelines for town planners regarding road envelopes, identify priority roads for dedicated and targeted road funding partnerships, adopt national guidelines for the design and placement of heavy vehicle rest areas, while mandating heavy vehicle only rest areas.
- The committee recommends that the government funds an education and awareness campaign around the benefits to small operators of the use of telematics devices, both in safety and efficiency and ensures that all such telematics and other technologies meet strict guidelines designed to protect drivers’ privacy.
- Review the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Banknote Distribution Agreement (BDA) and the operation of the wholesale cash system and the relationship between the Reserve Bank of Australia, the BDA and approved cash centres; and investigates the creation of national operating standards, accreditation and licensing scheme for the cash-in-transit industry.
- Develop an industry wide market-based ratings system to incentivise best-practice in the industry, ensuring all current and future government contracts with a road transport component are only awarded to road transport operators with the highest standards. Develop a plan and sustainable funding mechanism for establishing managed roadside livestock effluent disposal sites on key livestock freight routes in Australia;
- Establish a Transport Advisory Group with members from the transport industry and unions to function as a consultative and advisory body for ministers responsible for the infrastructure, transport and road freight portfolios andmeets regularly to facilitate ongoing dialogue and provide updates on matters of importance to the road transport sector.