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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3395

Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (13:48): My electorate has long been situated between the manufacturing hub of Melbourne's west and Melbourne's ports. As a result, trucks have long been a frequent sight on our streets. When homes, schools and playgrounds are located on streets that are heavily trafficked routes for thousands of large trucks, the risk of accident is significant. This danger is increased by the physical and emotional stresses placed on many truck drivers. Many truck drivers are given unreasonable deadlines and encouraged to break speed restrictions to do their jobs. In fact, a recent study by the Transport Workers Union revealed that 31 per cent of drivers surveyed felt a pressure to exceed safe driving hours and that 11 per cent felt pressure to take stimulants just to stay awake.

Work environments that produce overtired and mentally stressed truck drivers are an unacceptable risk to our community. We need to act to stop the tragedies that occur as a result of this situation. This requires looking at both the workplace demands placed on truck drivers and the infrastructure that supports them. With workplace protections, like the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, established by the previous Labor government, we can deliver safe and fair workplace conditions for truckies. With investment in infrastructure, like the West Gate distributor, promised by the state Labor opposition for my electorate, we can get 5,000 trucks a day off residential streets and onto their own roads to minimise risks to the community in Melbourne's west.

I urge anyone who is concerned about truck safety in my electorate to support the TWU's safe rates campaign and to support the state Labor opposition, which will build the West Gate distributor in government. Only the Labor Party at the state and federal level has a plan to address truck safety in Melbourne's west.