The Transport Workers Union has issued a sharp rebuke to those proposing a watering down of truck licensing standards in order to meet the shortage of drivers and the soaring demand for logisitics.
The TWU says that rushing through weakened licensing requirements for truck drivers will only make Australia’s deadliest industry more dangerous,.
The union said it has been pushing governments to implement structured, thought through competency-based licensing for years, but the new changes proposed by National Cabinet come without any consultation with TWU.
“This is yet another panicked, half-baked response from a government that has ignored warnings and failed to plan for the reality of COVID-19,” said Nick McIntosh, national assistant secretary of the union.
“Now the Morrison government is just falling back into bad habits of listening to the bosses, or unrepresentative swill by the likes of the Australian Trucking Association, who see this crisis as an opportunity to cut corners and erode safety standards.
“Scaling back hours required to obtain a trucker’s licence and opting instead for a ceral box licensing scheme will only make our roads more deadly.”
So far in 2022, 12 people killed in truck crashes, including three truck drivers.
“We already know what the outcome will be if we weaken licensing requirements. Last time we discussed licensing, training changes, and reliance on foreign drivers, we had truckies who were blocking tunnels they couldn’t fit under because they didn’t know how to reverse the truck. Before anyone gets behind the wheel they need training.”
A 2021 Senate report into improving transport safety, recommended improving regulation around truck licensing. The union supports experience and competency based licensing if it is evidence-based and properly introduced.
“The government has ignored every effort to make roads and trucking safer – from ignoring the need for RATs to keep the supply chain running to dismissing the comprehensive recommendations of a two-year long Senate Inquiry into the trucking industry.
“Now Scott Morrison is panicking and trying to put band-aid solutions to cover his own mess.”