By Nicholas Hartman
Australia’s Senate has moved to establish an inquiry into the Australian road transport and freight industry.
In a statement released on Twitter last night, WA Labor Senator and Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety Glenn Sterle said the inquiry had been months in the making.
“We now have a unique opportunity to look into every aspect of the transport sector so that we can inform the Government, through the committee’s final report of what needs to change in order to make our industry safe and sustainable,” Senator Sterle said.
“This inquiry will be far reaching and all-encompassing and I encourage anyone who is interested in or who is affected by the transport and freight industry to make a submission to the committee.
“The terms of reference for this inquiry were months in the making and came out of sheer desperation from an industry that is severely being squeezed from the top of the supply chain.”
Senator Sterle added that he’d brought all stakeholders in the transport industry – drivers, subcontractors, associations, employers, the Transport Workers Union and academia – together for two Transport Industry Standards Forums.
These Forums brought all the stakeholders to “work on establishing a clear pathway forward to address the pressures and challenges within the industry,” Senator Sterle’s statement said.
During the second Forum, held in August 2019, the group agreed a Senate inquiry into the road transport industry was a way forward for the industry to remain sustainable, profitable, viable and safe.
The group then worked on and then endorsed terms of reference which formed the basis of the inquiry. The inquiry successfully passed through the Senate yesterday.
The inquiry terms of reference mainly cover the employment relations, and health and safety aspects of the road transport industry.
According to Safe Work Australia, the road transport industry has been identified as a national priority under The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 due to its high fatality rate.
“While the road transport industry accounts for 2% of the Australian workforce, latest data shows that it accounts for 4% of workers’ compensation claims for injuries and diseases involving one or more weeks off work, and 17% of work-related fatalities,” according to Safe Work Australia.