This time of year gives many in the trucking industry the opportunity to vote for your representative. While there have been limited numbers of candidates in the past, this year sees a number of candidates stepping up to represent owner drivers and small fleets on the Australian Trucking Association’s General Council.
These positions give people from the smaller operations a chance to sit at the big table and represent the concerns of the smaller operations, which form the backbone of the trucking community. There are four candidates who have put their hands up to represent the owner drivers of Australia and two representing the smaller fleets.
All of those who registered to vote in these election will be receiving ballot papers for this election in due course. Here are the candidates and their statements about why they are standing and what they would do if elected:
John Beer, Romsey VIC
My name is John Beer and I am an owner operator from Romsey, Victoria, I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years. I have one prime mover and livestock trailer. My son Wayne is also a livestock transporter. I’m a member of the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) and currently I am Vice President of the LRTAV. I am also currently a Vice President of our national body, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA). In the past I’ve also been proud to serve as President of the LRTAV and ALRTA.
I’m very passionate about driver safety, animal welfare and improving facilities for livestock transporters and all truck drivers in general, especially parking bays and fixing the roads and safe facilities. I’m putting my hand up to be on the ATA Council again because I think I have done a good job representing owner operators so far and I’m always pretty outspoken and not afraid to say what needs to be said and happy to talk to anyone anytime to make our industry better and safer.
I also try to represent what rural and regional operators need because we often don’t get much of a voice. My view is owner drivers are the backbone of transport so we’ve got to make sure regulators and policy-makers and politicians listen to us.
I’m always going to work hard to achieve a better deal for us.
Frank Black (Arcidiaco), Albert Park SA
I have been an owner-driver for over 30 years. In this time I have experienced multiple sides of the industry including interstate, intrastate and local, and have a firm understanding of the frustrating issues that face owner-drivers in making a go of things.
Owner-drivers and their families play an essential role in the transport industry. We work long hours and spend long periods away from home just to make ends meet.
Other problems we face are different interpretations of laws between states, low rates of pay, log book fines and demerit points for minor offences, combined with rising costs (registration, insurance, fuel etc.) and a lack of decent rest facilities need to be addressed now. The Government and Associations need to understand and act on these issues.
Government, law enforcers, associations and the general public are constantly calling for improvements in safety on our roads. Well, we also want safety for ourselves, our families and every other road users. We need a structure in our industry where we can have a sustainable and viable business so as to be able to continue to operate safely and professionally ,with the capacity to provide a decent family life to our loved ones.
We need a fair and workable system in place that safeguards our rates of pay and ensures the ability for full cost recovery. We need conditions that see owner-drivers able to operate fairly, safely and remain viable in a competitive market.
While on the road, too often I hear stories of owner-drivers that have gone or about to go bankrupt due to the pressures placed on them to fulfil expectations with major Transport Clients and the like. This pressure doesn’t stop at the truck, it follows us home into the family unit causing much distress and anguish and is something that can be easily avoidable if a system of fairness is delivered. Not only do we need to be able to come home safe physically but also in a good state of mind.
I will not rest until State and Federal Governments legislate laws that keep us and other road users safe on the roads, pay us fairly for the hard work we do and give us and our families a fair go.
Luke McCrone, Ascot Vale VIC
My name is Luke McCrone and I’m a tip truck owner driver from Victoria. I have worked in the transport industry for over ten years and have been running my own truck for almost 18 months.
The biggest issue facing owner drivers in my part of the industry is the inability to secure an increase in rates, the last time rates went up for tipper drivers was four years ago, I believe this problem exists across the transport industry. If elected I will use my position to urge the government to adopt policies that will enable owner drivers to negotiate with their hirers not for a ‘safe rate’ but for a fair rate.
In my industry the big construction companies hold all the power, they dictate the rates and we just have to cop it. The key reason for this is that as owner drivers we are effectively banned from negotiating collectively. Whist the rest of the workers in the construction industry are free to band together and therefore deal with the same big construction companies or more level terms. They can bargain collectively and they can go on strike if negotiations break down, if the owner drivers try the same thing we find ourselves breaking the law. The result is that the workers who load our trucks on the job have seen their wages go up by 20% whilst ours haven’t moved at all. This is a double standard that must change.
We don’t need a government body to dictate rates to us we just need to be given the freedom to sit down with our hirer on equal terms and sort it for ourselves. I don’t suggest that extending collective bargaining rights to owner drivers will be a golden bullet for all owner drivers, I don’t believe that such a golden bullet exists. It will help tipper owner drivers and I believe that it will also help owner drivers engaged by big hirers. There is no doubt that workers in Australia on collective agreements earn more that workers on individual agreements.
Tim Montague, Banjup WA
I’m nominating to have a voice for owners, owner drivers and drivers , we need a voice from someone doing the job with practical experience, for too long we have been dictated to by people who have never done our job , it would be like a group of truck drivers starting a medical regulator and expecting doctors to listen to us , they wouldn’t tolerate it why should we.
There needs to be reform in the transport industry if we are to retain the good operators we have and attract younger people to the industry, to make it a career not just a job because they cannot get a job anywhere else. Truck driving in my opinion needs to be recognised as a profession and a trade, now that it’s hard to find companies where kids can go in the truck with Dad or their Uncle or whoever and learn the ropes and how the job is done. If you ring an electrician to do a job you expect someone qualified to do the job, you should get the same when you ring a transport company for a truck and driver.
Small fleet operator candidate statements
Lynley Miners, Adaminaby NSW
As the current President of the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association and a livestock carrier and employer of over 30 years, I have a deep association with the trucking industry.
A hands-on livestock carrier, I have transported goods across rural and metropolitan Australia and understand first-hand the everyday issues that impact the transport industry. I am passionate about improving road freight conditions for the entire supply chain regardless of what you carry or where you carry.
I appreciate that road freight plays a pivotal role in the success of the Australian economy. When road freight is not operating at maximum efficiency, productivity is reduced and economic competitiveness is substantially weakened. I aim to work with industry stakeholders to ensure productivity benefits are realised through safer roads, fairer loads and most importantly less red tape.
Being reasonable and practical minded, I want to keep up the fight to remove the financial burden placed on the trucking industry through a fairer charging regime. This means fighting for a fair go and real action on the current overcharging of the heavy vehicle industry to the tune of $515 million by the end of 2017-18.
This also means working hard to see heavy vehicle registration fees reduced and more funding directed towards road infrastructure upgrades to ensure drivers have a safe work environment to operate within.
On-road compliance and enforcement is another area where I consider the enforcement regime sometimes works against operators and drivers trying to do the right thing. I am committed to working with industry and regulators to find a better solution to deal with non-safety related infringements in a way that doesn’t see a driver lose a day or week’s pay for unintentional clerical errors or similar non-safety related mistakes.
Holding several voluntary positions including member of the Animal Welfare Sub-Committee, President of the Adaminaby Jockey Club and Director of the Adaminaby Bowling Club, I have a proven track record working productively with a range of industry associations, businesses and government bodies.
These voluntary positions, coupled with 30 years’ experience driving a truck, growing up on a grazing property in the Snowy Mountains and working alongside my siblings in the family livestock transport business I am confident that I can represent all small fleet operators in Australia and put my best foot forward to help push for a safer and more productive transport industry.
I am eager to continue my role on the ATA General Council representing small fleet operators across Australia.
Angela Welsh, Blaxland East NSW
With a passion for safety and fairness, I believe the small transport businesses need a voice that reflects the challenges unique to the sector. Owner/Drivers have a little protection from a number of issues faced in our industry, and large businesses often have specialists to manage many of the legislative requirements (eg: HR, WHS/OHS, logistics and contractor management, legals (inc. contracts & agreements), accounting, R&D, customer support, sales, administration, etc.).
With the list of requirements expanding, the anticipated increase in transport businesses & the number if drivers that will be required in the future to meet demands along with the current exodus level from the industry, we need to make a positive impact now for the future of the industry and our country’s economy.
As the Director of a small interstate transport company, I know that having “some” knowledge of the industry is no longer enough. We need to continue moving forward to ensure the safety of our drivers, bring back professionalism & respect for our heavy vehicle drivers by ensuring adequate education & training so they can actually perform the work they are licensed to do. We also need to pay the drivers what they deserve while preserving viable businesses for them to work in, which includes addressing payment times to small businesses. Cash flow can make or break a small business, regardless of the quality of everything else.
I feel privileged to work alongside some amazing small transport businesses and Owner/Drivers that also struggle to stay up to date with all the changes in the industry, and would like to be able to help them have their voices heard amongst some of the high-level discussions on their futures behind the wheel, or in their business.
While I am not driving myself, I am in constant contact with many drivers, including my partner that has been driving heavy vehicles for more than 35 years. I have a strong interest and experience working with, interpreting and balancing a multitude of legislative requirements, while looking at the practicalities of implementing requirements in the short & long term AND the drivers that have to do the work – including contractors.
While many will not address the difficult subjects, I do not shy away from those discussions and want to make sure small transport businesses can continue to operate without being bullied, fined or legislated out of existence while also ensuring our different needs are addressed appropriately and adequately.
To err is human, to learn from that should be the result! No laws, or application of the laws, are perfect because they are created & implemented by humans. There have been some errors made, interpretations applied, and enforcement that has impacted our industry in ways that may not have been anticipated. Instead of blaming others, we now need to work towards a better, safer future with all stakeholders and look at simplifying what has to be done so we all get home safely.