TWU SA/NT calls for new probe into 2014 SE Freeway incident

Union points to new information about truck’s brakes

TWU SA/NT calls for new probe into 2014 SE Freeway incident
Ian Smith


The 2014 South Eastern Freeway tragedy evokes painful memories in Australian road transport but the Transport Workers Union (TWU) SA/NT branch wants it re-investigated after what it says are new revelations about the incident.

The TWU has called on the SA Police and the SafeWork SA to reopen investigations following information that the transport company involved, Transpacific Industries – now Cleanaway – "knew the truck's brakes were faulty".

The truck lost control, killing two people and injuring the driver, Darren Hicks, in August 2014.

Police dropped charges against Cleanaway in 2017, however the union cites a civil case brought forward by Hicks which has "heard trucking company Cleanaway were warned several weeks before the deadly crash on the South Eastern Freeway that the brakes on the truck were faulty and that it should ‘not be driven’," it says.

Documents submitted by mechanical maintenance company Adelaide Heavy Diesel indicate Cleanaway did not seek repairs on the truck despite the warning, the TWU adds.

"This information is astounding and reveals what was behind this horrific crash which has left several families devastated," TWU SA/NT branch secretary lan Smith says.

"According to these claims, Cleanaway allegedly had the information that the truck should not be put out on the road and yet it put a driver into it and sent it off.

"Companies must be held to account for refusing to ensure that their vehicles are safe and their employees and other road users are not put at risk."

The TWU adds it wants the investigation to also look beyond Cleanaway’s involvement.

The TWU had previously linked the incident to customer pressure

"We also want to police and SafeWork SA to investigate the supply chain it operated in and the contracts for this work.

"We demand to know who profited when the safety corners were cut and what were the core reasons behind the decision for this truck to be put out on the road."

The incident sparked a 300-vehicle fleet grounding cost which cost Cleanaway up to $20 million, and a coronial inquest.

Consternation about heavy vehicle movements on the descent remain to this day.

When asked for comment, SA Police told ATN it "has not received any formal request to undertake any further investigations into this matter; however, we have noted the information provided and will give it due consideration".

Cleanaway and SafeWork SA are yet to respond.


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