Rocky Road for Truckies as Regulators Drive Transport Businesses to the Wall

Mar 10, 2022

Rocky Road for Truckies as Regulators Drive Transport Businesses to the Wall

Mar 10, 2022

KATTER’S Australia Party (KAP) candidate for Herbert, Clynton Hawks, is appealing for the State and Federal Governments to give truckies a “fair go” in the face of record diesel prices, driver shortages, and overzealous regulators. 

As the trucking fraternity reels from yet another operator fatality West of Townsville, Mr Hawks says governments are hammering the industry into oblivion, while ignoring truckies’ pleas for a national freight network, improvements in road safety and amenities like rest stops, and calls by industry for the adoption of technology to help manage driver fatigue. 

“Truck drivers are treated like cash cows by governments, scape goats by the general community, and pariahs by motoring clubs and self-interest groups. 

“Instead of helping truck drivers do their job, governments are making it more difficult.  They are driving the industry to the wall.” 

“The average age of a truck driver is 50.  We have to look at why the industry is failing to attract young people. 

“We have plenty of trucks.  What we don’t have are the drivers to operate them.  We have to ask why.”  

It’s a line that resonates with Jason Lette, whose family is owner of Freightshift.  Mr Lette said his family has been in the trucking business since his Dad hauled logs in a big rig as a teenager.  But the front-man of the Townsville-based company says he’s on the verge of throwing in the towel because he can’t get qualified drivers.   

“There’s no future in trucks,” Mr Lette said. 

“We’re winding it right up to nothing and it’s operators.  You just can’t get them. 

“I’ve got 17 trucks and six are sitting there not turning a wheel because there’s no one there to steer them,” Mr Lette said. 

Mr Lette points the finger at the industry regulator, the State Government’s Transport and Main Roads (TMR).   Mr Lette cited the example of an employee with an unblemished driving record who was fined $691 by TMR “over a clerical error.”  

“Who in their right mind would go and drive a truck if you lose half your wage because you forgot to put a date on a piece of paper.” 

Mr Lette’s story is why the KAP candidate is taking aim in his federal campaign at the financial burden imposed on trucking companies and operators by the State and Federal Government’s regulatory environment, which he describes as fragmented, chaotic and inconsistent. 

“If I am elected to the Lower House in the upcoming federal election, I will be calling for a complete overhaul of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulations. 

“For example, we need to move to a standard 15-hour logbook like the Western Australia model, and the scrapping of the log book any given 24 hour period rule. 

“The national heavy vehicle regulations need to be standardized across the nation.  

“Currently, each State takes the national heavy vehicle regulations and applies their own spin to it. 

“So what we effectively have are four or more different sets of standards. 

“Each state interprets and enforces the national code differently, creating compliance nightmares for long-haul truckies crossing State lines, which is almost of them. 

“Truck drivers want flexibility, but they also want consistency in how rules are applied, and to be able to get their trip done without a lot of red tape. 

“But they are being bogged down with over regulation and exorbitant monetary fines, adding stress and pressure, and the ‘F’ word, fatigue.”