National road safety tribunal to improve safety for Australian road users

30 June 2012

Australia’s first national Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will begin operation tomorrow.

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will have the power to set pay and conditions for truck drivers to reduce the economic pressures on truck drivers to meet unfair and unrealistic deadlines which risk their own lives and the lives of others.

Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said around 250 people are killed and more than 1,000 suffer serious injuries each year in accidents involving trucks.

“We know some truck drivers are pressured to cut corners on safety and maintenance and feel they need to take illicit substances to keep them awake just to get to destinations on time,” Mr Shorten said.

“These practices endanger the lives of all Australians.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations Jacinta Collins said the work of 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

“The Tribunal will make a real difference in improving road safety for truck drivers, their families and all Australian road users,” Senator Collins said.

“Research and an evidence-based approach will be used to determine pay and working conditions that do not encourage unsafe driving. All stakeholders with an interest in a matter before the Tribunal will have the opportunity to put their views forward.”

The Tribunal will also be able to resolve disputes involving truck drivers from 1 January 2013 and will be able to approve collective agreements between a hirer and owner drivers. 

The Minister also announced the appointment of Tribunal Members representing Fair Work Australia (FWA) and the road transport industry.

The Tribunal’s President, the Honourable Jennifer Acton, and the other three Tribunal members, SDP Lea Drake, Commissioner Asbury and Commissioner Hampton have a wealth of experience in dealing with workplace relations issues.

The Tribunal will also include four industry members, Professor Anne Williamson, Steve Hutchins, Tim Squires and Paul Ryan.  The industry members were chosen from a merit-based selection process and have a range of experience from management of a small truck fleet, research on heavy vehicle safety and experience in industrial negotiations for both big and small players within the transport and logistics industry.

Mr Shorten said road accidents involving heavy vehicles cost our economy an estimated $2.7 billion a year.

“We cannot begin to measure the painful cost carried by the victims’ loved ones, but this is something the Gillard Government can do and is doing to minimise the toll on Australian roads,” Mr Shorten said.

“Robust regulation that is the result of extensive consultation and a legal mechanism like the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will make Australian roads safer for everyone.”

Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal Members

Jennifer Acton

The Honourable Jennifer Acton is a Senior Deputy President of Fair Work Australia (FWA). She has previously been the head of the Termination of Employment panel and currently serves on the Industries panel and the Organisations panel. President Acton is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law and the Editorial Committee for the Australian Journal of Labour Law. Since 1992, President Acton has also been a Senior Deputy President on the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC). She was an industrial advocate for the ACTU for ten years and has a wealth of workplace relations experience.

Lea Drake

The Honourable Lea Drake is a Senior Deputy President of FWA. Senior Deputy President Drake currently serves on the Industries panel and was previously a Senior Deputy President with the AIRC.

Ingrid Asbury

Ingrid Asbury is a Commissioner of FWA. Commissioner Asbury currently serves on the Industries panel and came to FWA from the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

Peter Hampton

Peter Hampton is a Commissioner of FWA. He currently serves on the Minimum Wage Panel, the Major resources/infrastructure projects panel and two of the Industries panels. Commissioner Hampton is a former Deputy President of the AIRC and Deputy President of the Industrial Relations Commission of South Australia. He was closely involved with the development of the Fair Work legislation and led negotiations regarding South Australia’s referral to the National System. Commissioner Hampton was also previously a Director of Policy and Strategy within SafeWork SA within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Steve Hutchins

Steve Hutchins is a former Senator in the Federal Parliament representing New South Wales from 1998 to 2011. Amongst his various committee appointments, he was a member of the Senate Committee dealing with road transport. He currently tutors in Industrial Relations at RMIT University.  His experience with road transport began in 1977 at  transport company, TNT, before becoming an official with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) NSW Branch as an Assistant Secretary and then Secretary/Treasurer. He subsequently became the Federal President of the TWU and was a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan has 20 years experience in industrial and workplace relations in the transport and logistics industry. He holds qualifications in commerce and law. After working for ten years in the Commonwealth Public Service, he joined Mayne Nickless where he had responsibility for industrial relations in the freight and logistics group of the company. He currently operates his own consultancy, Strategic Industrial Planning Services Pty Ltd, which provides industrial relations advice and assistance to companies working in the freight and logistics industries. He is the National Industrial Advisor for the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation.

Tim Squires

Tim Squires has been involved in the transport industry for 35 years. He started his career as a driver and then worked his way through to senior operational and general management roles at a national and state level. He currently operates a Queensland-based small to medium sized transport business involved in the local distribution sectors. Mr Squires is the outgoing President of the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) and has held this position for the past four years. He will continue to be a part of the QTA, as an elected director.

Professor Ann Williamson

Professor Ann Williamson is Professor of Aviation Safety and Director, Transport and Road Safety Research at the University of New South Wales. She was awarded a PhD in Psychology in 1979. She has considerable experience of research on issues relevant to the transport industry. While the primary focus of her work has been aviation safety, she has published extensively on matters affecting the heavy vehicle sector. She has been an expert member of a number of relevant boards and committees, including for the Standing Committee on Transport and the National Transport Commission.