WA Senator Glenn Sterle says the Australian Government “failed to come up with a plan to address the needs and working conditions of Australia’s truck drivers and transport operators during this difficult time”. Photo: Matthew Poon
WA Senator Glenn Sterle says the Australian Government “failed to come up with a plan to address the needs and working conditions of Australia’s truck drivers and transport operators during this difficult time”. Photo: Matthew Poon

Senator: Government is failing the needs of drivers

WHILE the Australian Government has broadly recognised transport and logistics companies as essential services that should still operate during nation wide shutdowns amid COVID-19, Western Australian Senator Glenn Sterle said it has “failed to come up with a plan to address the needs and working conditions of Australia’s truck drivers and transport operators during this difficult time”.

Mr Sterle, the Shadow Assistant Labor Minister for Road Safety, said overnight he had received “alarming” reports from transport associations and drivers about situations that Australia’s truck drivers were facing at roadhouses around the country.

He said he had been told at some sites:

  • Shower facilities are being closed
  • Toilet facilities are being denied
  • Drivers are being told that they cannot access meals onsite in airconditioned areas. Drivers are instead being forced to eat outside in the heat and amongst flies. For some drivers, this is the only guaranteed rest break that they can take while driving long haul
  • Due to take away options only being available now, healthy food options for drivers are limited
  • Due to the size of heavy rigid vehicles, drivers are prevented from accessing some fast food retailers all together
  • At some roadhouses, food sections are being closed completely
  • Drivers are being prevented from using the rest/lounge areas while on break

Mr Sterle said all of the above points were essential for drivers to manage their fatigue.

“During this pandemic, our truckies are supplying our shops and making sure that valuable freight is getting to where it needs to go on a daily basis, all while being away from their loved ones,” he said.

“They deserve much better than this.

“Being a truck driver is a hard and extremely stressful job. As a former owner driver, running between Perth and Darwin, I understand better than anyone in the parliament the pressures our truckies face every day.

“Fatigue management, tight delivery deadlines and the fear of not being paid in an adequate time frame to name a few.

“Drivers do not need the added fear of not knowing when they are going to be able to have a shower, use a toilet or have a feed during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Mr Sterle said he agreed with the Minister for Transport Michael McCormack, who described Australia’s truckies as the “heartbeat of the nation” in Question Time yesterday.

“But if Mr McCormack was serious, he would immediately announce measures that would address the situations that our truckies are facing at roadhouses across Australia at the moment so that they can continue to carry our country as they have always done and as they always will continue to do.”