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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3077

Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (12:19): These amendments do for me create further concerns about this bill and how this is now trying to establish what looks to be a new and different process to existing ones rather than investing well in the existing ones to improve safety on our roads. There is no question that every member of this chamber would support safer roads, safer behaviour from drivers and better conditions for owner-drivers as well as for those who work for larger trucking companies. However, there are established processes that we should invest in. There are laws that have already been passed by the chamber, such as the Fair Work Act and the Independent Contractors Act. We should also acknowledge all the various state authorities—whether they are police or weight-of-load groups—and local government authorities involved in trying to make roads and conditions as safe as possible.

These amendments that have come in over the last 24 hours—and this bill more generally—look to be establishing a new and different process to the very good existing ones which I would hope everyone continues to invest in. Enforcement is frustrating for all involved—for families on the road and for drivers. It is frustrating working through these existing processes. But that is where the hard grind of getting safer roads will occur.

I do not accept the argument that there is a very simple magic bullet answer of increasing wages by legislation, which I thought was Work Choices and the argument around Work Choices, and that that directly links to more safety on our roads. I think safety on our roads is a much more complex issue to deal with. So I would hope, even if this legislation with amendments does pass, that we do not give up on the hard grind of using the existing processes that are already in place. That is really where the heavy lifting on road safety and better conditions for drivers is occurring.

I say that not only as a member of parliament but also because one of my first jobs was to work for the Road Transport Forum, which was an organisation that worked closely with drivers in the trucking industry. One of my first jobs was to work on a men's health program, with 200 companies in the trucking industry. As a very young 20-year-old, I sat at the Marulan truckstop talking to drivers about the food they were eating, the drugs they were taking and the lifestyle they were leading. That has a lot to do with safety on our roads, as well as wages and conditions.

Safety is a complex story and we need to see much greater investment from both Commonwealth and state authorities, but not necessarily through adding new layers, new bodies and new processes. Rather, it requires investing heavily in the existing ones where good work has been done in the past and good work needs to be done in the future. These amendments only add to my concerns and to why I continue not to support this. That is not a statement to say that I do not think drivers and families on the road do not have a case about safety. They do, but there are existing processes and existing laws in place that I hope we can use better to achieve the safety and conditions outcomes that we want.