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News & Views from the RTBU NSW Locomotive Division

Transport Minister gets the message on rail safety, but there’s more to be done

Nov 29, 2011Update

Thanks all the members who took the time to send a message to the State Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian voicing their concerns about the watering down of existing NSW fatigue protections under the proposed National Rail Safety laws.

We had a fantastic response to the campaign with more than 219 union members sending letters and Ms Berejiklian responding twice positively and personally to each letter.

In her reply she acknowledged that, while the aim of new national safety regulator was to cut red tape and improve productivity for industry, this should not be done at the expense of safety.

Ms Berejiklian also said that at a meeting of Transport Ministers in May this year she moved an amendment to a resolution requesting additional evidence on the proposed fatigue management system to satisfy herself that the new national regulator based in Adelaide would not reduce NSW rail safety standards.

The minister said she’d push for the new national fatigue requirements to have comparable safety outcomes to the current Rail Safety Act 2008 and Regulations that operate in NSW.

The draft Rail Safety National Law was approved by Transport and Infrastructure Chief Executives on September 23 and was considered by state and territory ministers at a November 4 meeting. The RTBU lobbied for a number of changes to the legislation and due to this lobbying and the failure of the national regulator’s Project Office to satisfy NSW fatigue concerns a decision on fatigue has been deferred to May 2012.

The RTBU will continue the campaign to ensure that the new laws do not dismantle the strong fatigue and safety protections, negotiated by the RTBU, that are currently in place in NSW.

The National Rail Safety Regulator will replace the seven existing state and territory authorities and will have oversight of operational policies and process, planning and reporting, training, education, research and safety promotion. From 2013, Rail Safety Investigation will be undertaken by the Australian Transport Safety Board working in a partnership agreement with the NSW accident investigator.

Currently NSW is the only state that has a confidential reporting system for rail workers and this will be expanded into a national scheme under the new arrangements.

To find out more, download the National Rail Safety Update here: NATIONAL RAIL SAFETY

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