An historic vote in the Senate this evening on the Road Safety Remuneration Bills has sent a clear message that the Australian Government is committed to improving road safety for truck drivers, their families and all Australian road users.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, said that around 250 people are killed and more than a thousand suffer serious injuries on our roads each year in accidents involving trucks.
“Road accidents involving heavy vehicles cost our economy an estimated $2.7 billion a year, however we cannot begin to measure the painful cost carried by the victims’ loved ones.”
As of 1 July 2012, the Australian Government is putting in place a Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, with the power to set pay and pay-related conditions for truck drivers.
The pay and conditions set by the Tribunal will reduce the economic incentives for drivers to make unfair and unrealistic deadlines, cut corners on safety and maintenance, or take illicit substances to keep them awake to get to destinations on time.
“Safe rates equal safer roads,” Mr Shorten said.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese said unsafe practices put the lives of all Australians at risk.
“Safety on our roads is a critical issue for all Australians and we can’t afford to continue to allow unsafe practices to impact heavily on families and communities.
“Truck drivers should not have to speed, overload their trucks or drive excessive hours just to make a decent living.
“The link between exploitation and safety for drivers has been well established through independent research as well as bipartisan Parliamentary inquiries.”
Minister Shorten thanked the Safe Rates Advisory Group for its considerable contributions during development of the Road Safety Remuneration Bills, as well as the state governments, employee and employer organisations, and individuals who took the time to be involved in the consultative processes.
“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the long-term viability of the road transport industry but that does not have to be at the expense of truck drivers, whether employees or self-employed, having a safe and fair workplace,” Minister Shorten said.
“This legislation not only affects truckies, but every Australian and their family who use our roads. We want to ensure the road is safe for all who use it.”