Industry News

Rest area committee candidate: ‘I want to make sure drivers aren’t disadvantaged again’

It’s been a while now since the federal budget was passed and the announcements made about supporting drivers with $140 million toward rest areas and other projects.

We were assured that real drivers would be on the steering committee, that drivers would decide where that money would be spent.

I’ve been a supporter of the plan from the first day I heard about it. I wrote how I considered Labor had the best position for transport before the election.

I’ve continued to support this since the election. I’ve come to the middle to support what I believed to be the right way to go even though I’ve compromised my politics to do it. The cynics around me have said: “Mike it will never go the way you’ve said.” To which I’ve responded that I had faith in the process.

We would get a fair go and that for the first time the interests of drivers would be taken into consideration. I’ve trusted.

I know a slate of drivers had been having some preliminary discussions about the funding and potential areas of interest.

As with all things nothing is a certainty. Now it seems potential members will have to “express their interest” in a reduced number of positions on the committee and that these positions will not be funded. In other words the drivers whose voices are so valuable will be expected to give up their time, however long it takes, for free.

Meanwhile, the suits who participate will be funded. You can also bet they won’t want to do it on weekends. We get screwed over with trip money at work and dodgy little loopholes all the time.

Any driver that takes the time to participate here will likely actually be sacrificing a week’s pay to participate in person in every sitting. Drivers with bills to pay! How naïve I was to think this would be any different.

So here’s the reality. Drivers who participate, after going through the application process whatever that involves, will be expected to donate their time to work on a nation wide problem that even the most cynical knows to be an issue.

They’re going to be expected to take time away from their job, one expects with the approval of their employer, who may or may not support them with leave etc, to sit on a committee with people who are going to be well compensated to be there who will likely not have the first clue about what it’s like to live on the road and probably care even less.

They’re saying reasonable expenses will be funded. So drivers are going to have to put their hand in their pocket and hope the expense is reasonable? Are we talking politician reasonable or truckie reasonable! We all know the two scales are vastly different!

Whose going to decide what’s reasonable? How many drivers can pay the bills at home and then put their hand in their pocket to fund an airline ticket, accommodation, taxis and meals as well as a few bucks for a beer and then take the chance on it being refunded in a reasonable time?

That’s supposed to be a fair go?

Here’s another reality. It seems National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) president and long-time road safety advocate Rod Hannifey will have to express his interest in this committee and I believe he has.

However, the man should be a walk-up start! His opinion on rest areas should be sought out! He should have simply been invited to participate. His Green Reflector Program is the most simple, biggest bang for the buck project going around. It has saved lives. If any driver knows more about rest area placement and design or displayed a more consistent view I’d like to meet them!

So here it is. I hope any company who has a driver with the qualifications and the desire to be part of this rest area committee has the fortitude to support the driver.

I’ve been told the NRFA, in the interest of getting the best drivers possible on the committee, will be setting up a fund to compensate drivers for their participation. To me this shouldn’t be necessary. But it clearly is. I’m deeply gratified the NRFA can see the problem and make a positive move to fix it.

Remuneration or not, I will be expressing my interest because I have no doubt I meet the criteria.

Experience driving heavy vehicles on long-haul trips across a wide range of locations in Australia;
An understanding of the issues facing drivers on long haul trips;
The ability to work collaboratively with others to achieve a common goal; and
The ability to analyse applications and provide advice on merit.

I driven trucks all over Australia. I still spend several nights a week sleeping in the truck on the road doing long haul trips. I worked collaboratively with others making the Caring for Our Farmers charity water run carting several hundred thousand litres of water out to the bush a couple of years ago happen, plus I’ve got no doubt I can consider issues and provide advice.

I’ve been sitting back quietly saying it’s all good. It will all work out. We will be listened to. I want to make sure drivers don’t stand to be disadvantaged again.

You can contact me via @theoztrucker on twitter, On The Road Podcast (@otrpodcastaus) on Facebook, or email me at

For details on how you can apply to be one of five truckies on the new rest area steering committee, click here.


The post Rest area committee candidate: ‘I want to make sure drivers aren’t disadvantaged again’ appeared first on Big Rigs.

  1. Australian Truck Radio Listen Live
Send this to a friend