TWUs Bill Noonan appointed new NTC commissioner

By: Jason Whittaker

Transport Workers Union (TWU) stalwart Bill Noonan says he plans to use his appointment as commissioner at the National Transport

Transport Workers Union (TWU) stalwart Bill Noonan says he plans to use his appointment as commissioner at the National Transport Commission (NTC) to push for a better deal for owner-drivers.

Noonan, who is the Branch Secretary for Victoria and Tasmania, was appointed commissioner after the Rudd Government voted in favour of him during its June 3 Cabinet meeting.

While the NTC has in recent times focused on registration charges and infrastructure priorities, Noonan says drivers need to be given a greater say on the direction of the trucking industry because they are ones most affected by any changes.

"The drivers are still often seen as the bottom of the food chain. That is one of the things I will be hoping to change," Noonan says.

"The drivers who have charge of the vehicles and take the risks are generally the ones that have the least say in the decision making that affects their safety and that of other road users."

Part of pushing for a better deal will involve championing better rates of pay, which Noonan says will increase safety within the industry.

"A number of inquiries and reports in recent years have identified a link between, on the one hand, low rates of pay and other inappropriate industrial practices, and, on the other hand, safety breaches," he says.

Noonan, who has worked for the TWU for more than 30 years, says he is also looking forward to tackling infrastructure bottlenecks to find ways of boosting productivity.

"I look forward to the challenge of finding constructive solutions to the substantial challenges facing governments as they deal with the pressing need to rapidly expand and improve transport infrastructure," he says.

According to Noonan, the appointment also reflects the important contribution the TWU makes to the transport industry. He says he is honoured to appointed commissioner by the Federal Government.

He fills the position originally intended for TWU Federal Secretary Tony Sheldon. The union boss, however, withdrew his nomination after he became embroiled in allegations the TWU used money from its training fund to bankroll Labor candidates during the 2007 federal election.

Sheldon denied these claims despite an audit finding discrepancies concerning TWU spending activities.

"We did identify a small number of items that, in our opinion, and from the evidence gathered, may not meet the stated objectives of the fund," the report says.

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