The Department of Transport staff joined assessors from other metropolitan licensing centres at Solidarity Park near Parliament House to protest against the Barnett Government’s plans to allow the private sector to conduct assessments for some truck licences.
A six-month trial is currently under way in Bunbury where South-West driving schools have become both instructors and assessors for truck driving assessments.
In State Parliament last week Transport Minister Troy Buswell confirmed truck assessments in other centres would be rolled out if the trial was successful and would be followed by other classes with motorbike licences next.
Community and Public Sector Union and Civil Service Association Branch Assistant Secretary Rikki Hendon said the Barnett Government’s privatisation agenda was ‘pretty clear’.
‘Our members believe that privatising these essential public services will compromise standards,’ Ms Hendon said. ‘It is not a good look for profit-driven companies to teach someone to drive but then fail them as it would reflect badly on their reputation.’
Ms Hendon said the government-employed assessors tested to a standard that was the same right across Western Australia but said there would be no guarantee of the standard being maintained if it was privatised.
In September 2012 it was alleged that up to 650 truck drivers in Victoria were given heavy vehicle licences in exchange for cash and without testing by an employee of a private company.
‘Why would the Barnett Government consider doing something similar in Western Australia with an unregulated industry where there could be corruption?
‘The only way to ensure safe standards are met is for assessments to remain in the hands of independent department assessors.’
Ms Hendon said they would demand that Mr Buswell and the Department of Transport immediately stop further privatisation of licensing centres, including the truck trial in Bunbury.