OPINON: Drivers silenced during probe
THE TWU condemns the latest attempt by the Berejiklian Government and NSW Roads and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey to silence the voice of truck drivers in the conversation about truck-related deaths on NSW roads.
The NSW Government Inquiry into Heavy Vehicle Safety and Use of Technology to Improve Road Safety began on Monday, April 9, but the TWU has been denied the opportunity to be heard.
Testimony that has been recently presented to the inquiry has shed strong light on the level of competence shown by the NSW Government when it comes to driver safety.
On one of their major projects, the WestConnex, we note that contracts for construction vehicles were not required to meet ongoing vehicle maintenance standards.
Unfortunately, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Roads Minister's decision to exclude us from the inquiry is not particularly shocking, but it is deeply shameful.
As the voice of truck drivers, it is vitally important that the TWU is a part of this conversation.
This shouldn't be about politics - it should be about doing what actually needs to be done to end the deaths on our roads.
We hold grave concerns that without a true and strong voice for truck drivers present in this inquiry, there will be no real solution in its outcomes - just another useless band-aid over a deepening wound. Just as it has always been with this government... time and time and time again.
The TWU is the largest representative body of truck drivers in Australia.
In our submission to the inquiry, we outlined the devastating impact of supply chain pressure on drivers, and the explicit link between rates of pay for drivers and road safety outcomes.
This link has been shown in academic research, coroners' reports and inquiries, conveyed by drivers in countless testimonies and found to be the case by courts and tribunals time, and time, and time again.
Simply put, there will be no decrease in truck-related deaths until these problems are addressed.
We have continually tried to make the minister acknowledge this, but she has buried her head in the sand.
This is the same minister who in January, immediately after the horrific deaths of five people in the space of only 24 hours, continued to publicly eschew this conversation in favour of technological band-aids.
Speaking to the ABC, the minister said: "(The) technology now is so advanced, a driver can be driving and get an electric shock if they look away from the windscreen for more than two seconds”.
We shone a light on the minister's embarrassing comments and her hopeless position on addressing truck-related deaths, and now we have been excluded from the conversation.
It is time for the government to listen.
There is a state of emergency on Australia's roads.