NatRoad calls for more access to driver licence info
PEAK body NatRoad believes the industry's ongoing driver shortage is being exacerbated by operators' restricted access to truckies' driving records.
In a detailed address to the Productivity Commission hearing on National Transport Regulatory Reform this week, NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said the new chain of responsibility laws reinforced the need for employers to hire the right driver for the job.
But he said NatRoad members find it difficult to obtain data about offences and other licensing details from employees and subcontractors.
"The NatRoad Board is concerned that there is no uniformity in Australian law for operators to securely access driver records and on road breaches of their drivers," said Mr Clark in his address.
"A legislative change that brings in the right of all operators to access the driver records would assist industry safety, a legislative change that could sit within the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
"Certainly the comments which we make in this context show that the disparity in something as basic as whether an employer of principal can get information vital to meeting the broad COR duty shows the deficiencies in the law that sees licensing and registration of heavy vehicles vested in the states and territories outside of the construct of the HVNL."
Mr Clark there is a provision in Queensland legislation that is not yet in force but which NatRoad believes would be a good model for Australia.
The Queensland Parliament in June 2018 passed an amendment to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 that deals with the issue. It covers all traffic history offences, including HVNL offences.
"The Department of Transport and Main Roads will be reporting to the operator, not a police officer," said Mr Clark.
"Following contact with the NHVR, we established that the Department will be introducing a system that will permit the reporting to be done automatically. When NatRoad spoke to an officer of the Department, he informed us that the delay in the provision becoming law related to the need to bring in this system.
"When this law takes effect in Queensland, at a date to be set by the Government, there will be a positive change for Queensland operators. But this is the provision that is needed Australia wide, and needs to be adopted in each State and Territory.
"The COR positive safety duties mean that operators must have adequate information available to them that enables them to assess whether they should let their drivers take the wheel. The lack of that information is a systemic problem."
Mr Clark also discussed the importance of skills development which he said is critical as it can help employers move towards higher value-added employment and maximise business performance, especially heavy vehicle safety outcomes.
"NatRoad is pioneering ways to find new solutions that lessen the labour supply gap in the short term but also future proof the industry for the long haul," he said in a post address media release.
"We currently have difficulty attracting young drivers. This is partly because occupations in the industry are not considered professional positions; careers such as truck driving are often perceived negatively, hence the growing driver shortage.
"NatRoad supports greater recognition of the skills and competence displayed by heavy vehicle drivers. We also support policies that lead to greater diversity in the industry."
For NatRoads complete submission to the commission click here.