The opening morning of the NatRoad Conference in Brisbane has seen Senator Glenn Sterle saying things are going to be done differently if the Labor Party gets the guernsey in May 18’s election. The Senator for Western Australia was one of the opening speakers at the event which is acting as a curtain raiser for the Brisbane Truck Show.
Glenn was an owner driver himself and later a Transport Workers Union owner driver organiser before arriving in the Senate in 2004. He was named by Labor Leader, Bill Shorten, as Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety recently and will have an influence on future policy around trucking if Labor gain power this weekend.
“I am not the bogey, the union head-kicker who wants to send you all broke,” said Glenn, starting an open and passionate speech. “I’m from three generations of truckies. My son is a road train operator pulling triples.
“If there is a change at the next election, I can guarantee we are going to be talking about training. Why has every other industry got recognition, with millions of dollars of tax payers money pouring in their industries to attract young ones, but for transport workers, nothing.”
Glenn is trying to distance himself from the issues around the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and describes the process the industry went through in 2016 and 2017 as a disaster.
“Should there be a change of government on Saturday and I am Assistant Minister for Road Safety, there is one guarantee I can give you,” said Glenn. “I will be joined at the hip with the transport industry. We are going to seize this opportunity to advance this great industry.”
The Senator convened a Transport Industry Standards Forum inviting all interested parties, operators and unions. He characterises the initiative as a chance to take a conciliatory approach to taking the trucking industry approach rather than the aggressively adversarial approach he has utilised in the past.
“I had to actually grow up, put the machine gun away,” said Glenn. “We’ve been blueing with each other, at each other throats for all these years, but what good has it done for our industry. This industry has been built by people who have given everything they’ve got.
“We can come back every five or ten years and we are still talking about the same dramas. It’s now time to change that. Should the government change on Saturday, one of my first jobs is to reconvene the forum, because we are going to do this together. There will be people dying to throw rocks at me, and the sad fact is that’s their democratic right. It will not stop me and those in the industry who want to fix it. There is a role for government to play here.
“When the RSRT was set up I was warm at heart for the reason it was set up, but I was bitterly disappointed with the schmozzle it turned into. Nothing needs to be said, it was a disaster, the orders which came through.”
The Senator declared he is going drive reform and will do it with the trucking industry. He insists the numbers in the Senate after the election will be a determining factor in what can be achieved. However, he also insists he will not ‘ram through’ anything he wants if there is strong Labor support in the Senate.
“We are going to work through this collaboratively, we are going to do this properly,” said Glenn. “We are going to do this so we don’t get tripped up by unforeseen circumstances. I can’t do that without your support, I need you.”
Glenn insists the aim will not be to put people out of business. He reckons the problem is at the top of the supply chain.
“What you charge your client is your business, it has nothing to do with government,” said the Senator, closing his speech. “If there is a change of government, what you pay a sub-contractor or what you a pay a truck driver will be our business. I don’t think that’s unfair.”