Noelene Watson, the previous sitting Chair of the Australia Trucking Association (ATA) which had its start in 1989 to represent Australian truckers, retired on April 5th, 2017. She will, however, remain on the ATA board as a voting councilor. She has since been replaced by Geoff Crouch who ran unopposed. Sponsors of the ATA include BP, NTI (the truck insurance specialists,) Volvo Trucks, PACCAR (a technology company that manufactures premium commercial vehicles sold around the world under Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands.
Noelene suggested that it was an arduous position that she worked hard at. She favored professionalism, safety and health concerns as the primary issues for her association of truckers. She wrote many articles for the Prime Mover Magazine showcasing improvements that the trucking industry has made. One recent positive statistic she noted in her March, 2017 article was that even though the number of trucks increased in the past 20 years, the number of deaths caused by truckers went down 80% as indicated by the Centre of Automotive Safety Research. Noelene Watson was also a strong proponent for health and medical services to the operators of the numerous truckers that traversed the many types of roads in Australia, and of course, the many different types of loads the truckers carried. One particular health concern was the assumption that every trucker who complained of sleepiness had the often devastating condition of sleep apnea, in which a person actually stops breathing for several seconds to a minute or two, thus severely altering an individual’s capability of getting enough quality sleep for the job. That differentiating assumption was corrected when she, as the chair of ATA pressured the National Transport Commission, (NTC) to improve the medical regulations of the truckers.
One of the highlights of her tenure as the Chair of ATA, was the privileged honor to present well-deserved awards to Australian truckers for various reasons. The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian Award which honors drivers for sacrificial risk-taking and heroic measures taken during their normal routine of driving had two special recipients that she proudly gave to the awards to. Garth Hayes and Matthew Mitchell respectively recovered a wounded cyclist and assisted a fatally injured motorist by offering comfort, care and empathy as he suffered. Another award presented by Noelene Watson was the National Australia Trucking Industry Awards, specifically, the Don Watson Award: an award given to a delegate of a trucking industry supplier, which differs from the Outstanding Contribution Award, which is given to a person or group of people in the actual trucking operations of a company. Recent winners were D & P Haulage, Doug McMillan in 2016 and the Paul Harrison Transit, Paul ‘Harro’ Harrison in 2015.
Noelene strongly defended her position on opposing the push for truckers to be required to have operator licenses. Her position was controversial and criticized by Sarah Jones, the Group Manager of TOLL, and a member of the Australia Logistics Council, who favors operating licenses. As quoted by Sarah Jones, “Australia is the only modern liberal democracy that does not have an operating licensing regime,” as stated in Press Reader. Noelene defended her stance on opposing the suggested requirement because most of Australia’s truckers operate as a small business which employs under 20 people. The Senate voted in favor to abolish the Road Safety Remunerations Tribunal, (an independent group that was created in 2012 by the Gillard government to watch over all road transportation) on April 21, 2016.
“In my humble opinion [the issues that are ratified by the ATA Council] makes the ATA General Council the most powerful and relevant industry policy-making forum in the trucking industry. It also proudly gives a voice to the small fleets and owner operators of Australia - particularly essential given that 98% of operators have fewer than 20 employees.” ~Joelene Watson. Check out Drive Armellini today!