Sterle promises driver licensing probe pressure

By: Rob McKay

Senator concerned at oversight and enforcement but acknowledges resources shortfall

Sterle promises driver licensing probe pressure
Senator Glenn Sterle is looking forward to the coming year.


Senator Glenn Sterle will keep plugging away at the state of truck driver licensing and its oversight as he looks forward to another year of the Senate inquiry he chairs.

Shining a light on the issue was crucial, he tells Owner//Driver.

"It’s got to be done because some of this stuff is criminal, some of the private companies running this should be put into administration," Sterle says of instances of fraud and corruption that have emerged recently in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and the information his inquiry has been supplied.

But he is also mindful of the burden in terms of red tape and cost of doing business that increasing amounts of regulation implies.

"We don’t want to have a system in pace where it’s too expensive to be a truck driver – I get all that," Sterle says.

"But there is a role for government to play … and when it comes to safety and having the best-trained drivers that we can, there are some things where we can’t cut corners."

Sterle made plain that he had been less than impressed by what the inquiry had uncovered and the lack of liaison between state and federal compliance arms.

"Pass on the information – it’s a simple as click a button, it’s not hard, we do it all the time," he says.

"All I’m saying is, if some state jurisdiction has uncovered gross corruption within the heavy vehicle training and licensing of heavy vehicle drivers, there is no excuse for it happening a second and third time."

He left unstated that the lack of proper information-sharing appears to undermine the value of mutual recognition across states of each other’s driver licensing.

But, more broadly, Sterle also acknowledged that politicians have been guilty of under-resourcing the agencies carrying the oversight, regulatory and enforcement burden in freight transport and related areas.

New South Wales’ Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and the committee had been unable to find an agreed time to take questions this year and Sterle says he looks forward to hearing evidence.

"Roads and Maritime Service representatives were unable to appear before the Senate Committee on 10 November 2016," it tells Owner//Driver.

"Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime will consider invitations provided for 2017 hearings.

"A request was made to attend one of the later dates originally offered in November but this offer wasn't taken up by the Committee."

The committee is looking to mid-February to resume hearings.



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