House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Statements by Members

Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

1:35 pm

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

Professional truck drivers play a crucial role in the Australian economy. We know the often unrealistic deadlines that are still placed on truck drivers squeeze them for every dollar they earn and could tragically even cost them their lives or the lives of others. They deserve safe rates.

Each year an average 330 people are killed on our roads as a result of heavy vehicle incidents, and more than 5,300 are injured. As a result, Labor in government established the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in 2012 to address safety problems in trucking. The speculation that the Abbott government is using its review of the tribunal as a basis to abolish it is, therefore, deeply concerning.

It is highly concerning not only to me but also to the approximately 1,500 professional truck drivers and their families whom I represent in this place. They would be dismayed by the comment from the junior minister, the member for Mayo, that his government 'is very uncomfortable with this regulator'. Well, I am not comfortable with the families of truck drivers wondering if their dads, their husbands and their brothers will come home safely each day.

My friend from the 43rd parliament, the former member for Hinkler, was a strong advocate for the safety of truckies on our roads. He understood the need for serious reform in this sector—reform that was delivered under Labor. His own committee report provided the evidence base for the establishment of the tribunal. I am dismayed by the way in which those opposite fail to respect and uphold his well-grounded and concerned views.

For the safety and livelihoods of some of the hardest-working people in Australia, it is imperative that this government supports the tribunal.