Industry News

Operators need to step up to address driver shortage, says Ron Finemore

Prominent transport operator Ron Finemore has said that other fleet owners need to step up to help address the serious truck driver shortage in Australia.

Finemore, who founded Ron Finemore Transport in 2004, said the road transport industry is in “intensive care” and operators need to work with the government, regulators and other transport bodies to save it.  

“I had a couple of phone calls last week from other operators,” said Finemore at the Australian Trucking Association’s annual conference, Trucking Australia 2024, in response to a presentation given by Austroads about licensing reforms.

“They said ‘The bloody NHVR is hopeless’ and asked me what I am going to do about truck licensing.  

“I said, ‘Well what are you bloody doing about it?’” 

Finemore owns a fleet of 290 trucks, operating in and out of the Albury-Wodonga region along the east coast of Australia, and the driver shortage has seriously affected his business.  

He told the Canberra conference that he is 100 drivers short of what he needs, and said most operators he knows are also struggling to hire enough drivers.  

The proposed Austroads reforms include standardising truck driver training and testing across the states and territories, introducing a “recognised country” scheme for heavy vehicles, and changing the rules around upgrading licence classes so drivers can progress to the next licence class in a shorter time frame, if they can demonstrate enough driving experience.  

Finemore said these are all good ideas, but they are going to take too long to implement.

“We’ve been talking about these things for a long time, and we’re not getting progression,” he said.  

“The issue of the shortage of drivers is getting worse, and the quality of the drivers is getting worse.” 

Finemore said that he employs 355 drivers from the Indian subcontinent, who have helped with his driver shortage problem.  

“It’s a big number,” he said. 

“Some of them have been with us over ten years, and the large majority are very good people.  

“They are no different from anybody else. They want to work, they want to earn a living.” 

He operates a buddy driver training program and ensures that all of his employees understand Australian safety standards. 

“We ensure they have an Australian licence. They don’t work for us unless they have that.

“We have buddy drivers that get paid a high level of money to take them with them, and they sign off on them. So they are taking responsibility.  

“We try to teach them the safety culture that we have in our company.” 

He said he sees opportunities for pilot schemes, for both younger drivers and overseas drivers.  

“I think there’s an opportunity to get a state to do it, and you could restrict it to accredited companies.

“You can hold those companies responsible for who we employ and how we do it.  

“I’m sure there’s plenty of people that would like to do that. We’ve really got to help.

“We need a short-term, medium-term and long-term situation, or else we’re going to be in real trouble and the safety issues are just going to get worse.” 

For more on this story, and others from this week’s conference in Canberra, grab your free copy of the May 12 issue of Big Rigs from your usual outlet.  


The post Operators need to step up to address driver shortage, says Ron Finemore appeared first on Big Rigs.

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