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19       Transport— Truck drivers

Senator Sheldon, also on behalf of Senators Sterle and Gallacher, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 701—That the Senate—

(a)              notes that:

(i)                    truck drivers across Australia are under pressure because of the squeeze on rates,

(ii)                  pressure on truck drivers does not exist in isolation; it has real life consequences which can be catastrophic,

(iii)                truck driving is Australia’s deadliest industry, with around one in three workplace deaths involving a transport worker,

(iv)                maintaining safe rates of pay for truck drivers contributes directly to increased road safety for all road users,

(v)                  longstanding state laws in Australia provide owner-drivers with certainty over their rates,

(vi)                during the pandemic, truck drivers have risked their health and lives to continue delivering goods, crossing closed state borders, finding truck stops shut or unable to provide them with hot meals or showers, and 

(vii)              in response to an opinion article urging fellow owner-drivers not to undercut each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, on 1 June 2020 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wrote to owner-driver Mr Frank Black threatening criminal charges carrying jail terms; and

(b)              further notes that the ACCC has been asked to:

(i)                    withdraw the letter and accusations levelled at Mr Frank Black therein,

(ii)                  apologise to Mr Frank Black, and

(iii)                confirm that the ACCC will commence a detailed inquiry into destructive competition in the road transport industry that sees those at the top of the supply chain squeezing transport operators, their employees and owner drivers like Frank Black into deadly circumstances.

Statement by leave : The Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries (Senator Duniam), by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.

Question put and passed.