Transport Workers Union NSW Secretary Michael Aird has said that Malcolm Turnbull should hang his head in shame over his decision to put cheap politics ahead of safety on our roads and the safety of transport workers.
Mr Aird was speaking after the Government pushed through an abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal last night in Canberra.
“The Prime Minister has put winning votes in an election on July 2 ahead of safety on our roads – this is as low as you can get,” Mr Aird said.
“When the death toll from fatal truck crashes on our roads continues to rack up, part of the blame must be sheeted home to this Government. More than 2500* people have been killed in truck crashes over the past decade and the Government’s response was to abolish the one Tribunal that could address the systemic problems in the industry.
“Mr Turnbull deliberately ignored the link between pay rates for all truck drivers and safety on our roads* that has been proven over decades of research by independent academics, coroners and parliamentary inquiries.
“It is transport workers and everyone who shares the roads with them who will suffer from this decision. Meanwhile, the big transport clients who happen to be major donors to the Liberal Party, like Coles, Westpac and BP, won’t be held to account for their economic squeeze on transport workers that leads to devastation on our roads.
“They have been given free reign by Malcolm Turnbull to sweat transport workers as much as they please.”
Truck driver John Waltis, a driver for over 30 years, said that he was very disappointed that the Tribunal had been abolished.
“Our job is the most dangerous job in Australia and I’ve been to the funerals of 50 mates killed in truck crashes to prove it,” Mr Waltis said.
“It’s deeply disappointing to hear that Malcolm Turnbull has abolished the Tribunal – now there is no road safety watchdog to address the crisis in our industry. The race to the bottom on rates will continue tragically and so will the crashes and deaths.”
Mr Aird said that the community clearly backed the Road Safety Watchdog, but big business interests and their secretive lobby groups who fund the Liberal Party wanted it gone so that they wouldn’t have to pay what it actually costs to transport their goods.
“Polling released today by Essential Media shows that a majority of people wanted to keep the Tribunal while just 12% said it should be abolished,” Mr Aird said.
“If you follow the money you will see that many of those from the industry calling for abolition were nothing more than front groups for the notorious Institute of Public Affairs* and big transports clients like Coles.
“We will continue to fight over the coming days, weeks, months and years for safe and fair pay and conditions for all transport workers.”
Media Contact: Barry Dunning 0408 463 199, Rachel Kim 0405 625 208
*In the years 2004-2014, 2548 people were killed in truck crashes
Source: The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)
*Independent academic research into the link between pay rates for truck drivers and road safety
*Links between the Independent Contractors of Australia, Owner Driver Australia and the Institute for Public Affairs,8896

Transport Workers' Union NSW