There was a great deal of relief late on Monday, when the formal abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was confirmed. A lot of hard work and insistent lobbying got rid of the RSRT and its Orders, aided by a Coalition Government looking for a stick to beat Labor with.
Okay, you can take a few days off to recover, but the job is not done. We need to get back out there and continue to campaign, to get some genuine resolution around the issues. The direct link between rates and safety has been put on the back burner, but the unsafe culture in the trucking industry is still out there to be tackled.
If the trucking industry is honestly interested in safety, the defeat of the iniquitous RSRT Order was just the first step on a long road. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend safety on our roads is not a major concern, and not capable of derailing all of the good work done so far.
The Transport Workers Union was right in highlighting the areas of concern for everyone, safety and the chain of responsibility. Unfortunately, the TWU came up with a solution which was divisive and unworkable. The arguments and accusations in the past few weeks have created an atmosphere of confrontation around all of these issues.
This is not the atmosphere needed to get realistic outcomes to improve truck safety out on the roads of Australia. If we do not bring the entire industry along with us, the solution will not be long lasting or effective, something the TWU discovered this week.
The entire trucking community does have all of the tools needed to make some actual progress in improving culture and cultivating the required sense of responsibility, throughout the supply chain. It will become a reality when everyone involved in the process of getting the loaded B-double to travel down the Hume at 100 km/h has done their best to make it a safe journey.
Everyone needs to step up to the mark. we have the, relatively, new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator tasked with the job of making the COR system work. Rules changes may help, but all of the stakeholders need to buy in and work together.
We know the various state bureaucrats, previously handling COR, are reluctant participants, but this is where the NHVR has to be strong and use its muscle to get a cohesive and effective process going, which will lead to meaningful prosecutions up and down the chain.
The industry associations will have little time to rest on their laurels, there’s work to be done. The big push to get accreditation schemes like Trucksafe recognised by the authorities is going to take a lot of work. Hopefully, all of the various schemes will be properly scrutinised, this time, so we don’t get the credibility sapping issues of the past, with trucks upside down in a ditch with their accreditation stickers clearly visible.
Hopefully, the industry has learnt something about dealing with the media under the intense spotlight when the proverbial hits the fan. They were interested in trucking for the first time in living memory. We have been very bad at getting our side of the story out there to the general public, the voters. Our image needs constant work, otherwise trucking will be seen as monster trucks polluting the atmosphere and killing people.
We also have to bring the whole industry along with us, including the TWU, who represent a large proportion of those active in trucking. The TWU is still, at the time of writing, a member of the Australian Trucking Association and needs to remain as such. The common cause of safety can bring all parties together and the common enemy, complacency, should keep all of us on our toes and pulling in the same direction.