What we should be asking
THE burning questions facing the transport industry are: Who will be the new Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister? and How will the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal work?
The first question, well, I'll leave this blank unless it's announced before printing but the former Shadow Minister for Transport Scott Emerson looks a likely candidate.
As I have said before in editorials, the one thing that changes quickly in this industry is transport ministers.
The next question however goes to the core, how will the so called "Safe Rates" tribunal do what existing laws can't?
I am all for road safety and preventing fatalities and this is where I have steered Big Rigs in over two years as editor.
I am ecstatic that the issues facing drivers are in the public eye and politicians recognise the problems.
Even better, drivers should be paid for hours worked rather than just when they are driving - this should include loading and unloading as well.
But it is only early days for the Road Safety Remuneration Bill which recently passed both house of Federal Parliament and opened up the mechanisms to start the tribunal. I fail to see how this bill is any different to existing checks and balances working together, including chain of responsibility laws (CoR), modern awards, current occupational health and safety (OHS) laws and heavy vehicle road rules - including log books, which operators need to adhere by to legally conduct business.
The laws are there and guess what, companies are still ignoring them.
What we need to look at first is why the existing rules don't work.
Secondly, we need to look at the reasons people can get away with not following existing laws.
Then thirdly we can formulate what the industry, its customers, suppliers, governments and the motoring public can do to minimise risks and save the lives of truckies and other motorists on the roads.
Some industry groups believe the bill is just a Transport Workers Union Trojan horse to get higher pay rates.
If that helps save lives, I am all for it.
My gut says the issues aren't as black and white as how much money a driver gets.
You can pay someone a high wage but if they are still overworked and pushing their limits for sleep, family life and safety - then it is still wrong and we know what this recipe can produce.
I think the industry needs a radical cultural shift. Drivers need to be treated as first-class citizens rather than the scourge of society.
Go to page 8 - find our contact details and let me know what you think.