Sum­mit tack­les driver short­age

WA unites to com­bat statewide cri­sis

Big Rigs - - NEWS - James Gra­ham James.Gra­ham@bi­grigs.com.au

WEST Aus­tralian in­dus­try bosses have taken a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in ad­dress­ing the state’s mount­ing driver short­age with an emer­gency sum­mit meet­ing in Perth.

Western Roads Fed­er­a­tion CEO Cam Dumesny said he was heart­ened by the way all sec­tors came to­gether in one room, along with the Trans­port Work­ers Union, to hash out so­lu­tions.

Many is­sues were dis­cussed as road­blocks to re­cruit­ment, in­clud­ing pay rates and on-road en­force­ment, which were widely ac­cepted as be­ing “out of whack with re­al­ity” and dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the na­ture of the ac­tual of­fence.

But gen­er­ally speak­ing, there was a con­sen­sus that the WA in­dus­try needed to get back to grass­roots to deal with the dilemma.

“We’re just not at­tract­ing peo­ple out of schools; we’re not at­trac­tive as an in­dus­try – we need to ad­dress that,” said Mr Dumesny.

He said there also now needs to be a fresh look at how to train would-be driv­ers.

“You read all the on­line com­ments and peo­ple are say­ing, ‘Well, I’ve gone and got a li­cence but ev­ery­one says I need five years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, well how do I get five years’ ex­pe­ri­ence’? That’s a fair point.

“Then how do we re­tain them, and fi­nally, how do we give peo­ple a grace­ful exit out of the in­dus­try?

“They may have hurt their back, arm or shoulder, or maybe get­ting a bit long in the tooth. How do we give them a job where we recog­nise their ac­tual ex­per­tise and ac­com­mo­date where they’re at.

“Maybe they be­come good traf­fic war­dens, or pi­lots, things like that.”

Mr Dumesny said it was es­pe­cially pleas­ing to see how co-op­er­a­tive the in­dus­try could be when it wanted to.

By way of ex­am­ple, he cited the way courier and ag­i­ta­tor driv­ers at the sum­mit sug­gested that they’re prob­a­bly a good en­try point for peo­ple into the heavy ve­hi­cle sec­tor.

“So if we work to­gether as in­dus­try we may be able to find some so­lu­tions,” he said.

Mr Dumesny said the next step was to sit down with a work­ing group and come up with some ac­tions the WA in­dus­try ad­vo­cates could take to gov­ern­ment for as­sis­tance.

“We need to come up with a roadmap of how do we ad­dress the is­sues: how do we at­tract, how do we train them, how do we re­tain them and how do we main­tain them at the end,” he said.

“It’s a com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion. We’re not going to solve it overnight, but we’ve got to start some­where.”

He also added that Western Aus­tralia had to solve the short­age is­sue it­self this time rather than re­cruit from else­where.

“Last time we had a boom, we took driv­ers from the east coast and New Zealand to keep us going. They’re busy over on the east now so we’re going to have to re­cruit in­ter­nally from WA and we’re going to have to train them,” he said.

“We can’t just keep re­ly­ing on oth­ers; we’ve got to do this our­selves this time.”

❝ We’re not going to solve it overnight, but we’ve got to start some­where. — Cam Dumesny

PHOTO: RHYS MOULT

WHEELS TURN­ING: The sum­mit agreed the short­age must be solved within WA rather than by re­cruit­ing out­siders.

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