TIME FOR CHANGE: Senator Glenn Sterle said the squeeze on our operators is now at a point where it can't go on any further.
TIME FOR CHANGE: Senator Glenn Sterle said the squeeze on our operators is now at a point where it can't go on any further. The Weekly Times

Senator Glenn Sterle confirms Labor wants safe rates

ALTHOUGH details are to still be hammered out, Senator Glenn Sterle ended today's transport forum in Canberra confident that safe rates are the answer to the industry's woes.

Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety convened 70 industry representatives for talks on challenges facing the industry and is looking forward to further input into a new iteration of the controversial payment order, should the ALP win the federal election in May.

"The squeeze on our operators is now at a point where it can't go on any further and there has to be some changes,” the WA senator told a media conference at Parliament House.

"And I'm proud to announce that the ALP, should Bill Shorten form the next government, will implement legislative rates that address the squeeze from the top of the supply chain, which will address remuneration for truck drivers, transport companies and for owner-drivers.

"Every man and woman to a tee knows we cannot continue down this path of having our drivers and our companies stretched to the limit.”

Australian Trucking Association chair Geoff Crouch said he was encouraged by discussions at the forum, which aimed to explore ways to improve standards and safety outcomes in road transport.

"The ATA was delighted to join Senator Sterle's forum and have the opportunity to contribute to this important conversation,” said Mr Crouch, who was joined by ATA CEO Ben Maguire, owner-driver Chris Howard and the owner of Fellows Bulk Transport, Paul Fellows.

"The forum brought together an extremely diverse range of industry participants, providing a platform for positive discussion.

"It was very encouraging to see everybody proactively contributing to one central goal: to improve safety outcomes. We look forward to continuing the discussion with Senator Sterle and his colleagues.”

Owner-driver Chris Howard said while there were some different agendas in the room, everyone was on the same team.  

"It would be great to have a combined effort incorporating drivers, employers and suppliers that benefits the industry as a whole,” said Mr Howard. 

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine was also pleased at the contributions from industry participants.

"It is clear that the tide is turning and that our industry is united in pushing for a way to make things better,” said Mr Kaine.

"The industry realises that a huge gap has been left since a road safety watchdog was torn down and that rates, payment deadlines, safety and sustainability has gotten worse. We need to address this urgently.

"We believe that the ALP got the policy right in December at their national conference and that binding legislation to tackle the gross imbalances and a skewed power dynamic in our industry is the way forward. We look forward to moving ahead now and pushing for the implementation of this policy.”

Frank Black, owner driver representative on the ATA general council said: "We need change and we need it urgently. Drivers need to be viable so they can operator safely. We need to stop the procrastination and implement changes now,” he said.

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