Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Liberal Government to Dismantle Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

It’s not only the headline grabbing repeal of the carbon price that we need to make the Liberal Government accountable for, but those policy reversals that don’t make the front pages because our pro-big business, anti-union media want us to miss them.

The Abbott Government is preparing to dismantle the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal under the euphemism of reducing red tape for business.

The tribunal was established by the Federal Labor Government to address safety issues in the Australian road transport industry and on our roads.

Regrettably truck driving is one of the most dangerous industries in Australia, with a workplace fatality rate that is 10 times the industrial average. Results from the Safe Rates Survey 2012 show that 73% truckies working in the Coles Supply Chain believe that pressure from big retail clients, like Coles, is a major cause of unsafe driving practices on the roads.

Some other startling facts from the drivers surveyed in 2012:

·        46% feel pressure to skip breaks

·        31% feel pressure to exceed safe driving hours

·        28% feel pressure to speed

·        26% feel pressure to carry overweight loads

·        11% feel pressure to take stimulants to stay awake

·        24% had to wait more than 11 hours when loading and unloading the truck

·        One in three drivers were not paid for hours spent waiting to load and unload

Evidence from coronial inquiries, cross-party reports and independent academic research has shown a clear link between pay and related conditions for truck drivers and safety on our roads. 

The Liberal Government’s ‘review’ of the tribunal is a pretext for its abolition and the end of Safe Rates for truck drivers. This is not only unjust and dangerous for the truck drivers concerned but for all drivers on Australian roads. You can’t abolish climate change by abolishing the Climate Change Commission and the Climate Change Authority, you can’t abolish obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use by abolishing the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, and you can’t make the roads safe by abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

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