Following last week’s Federal Court decision to discontinue the temporary stay order on the Road Safety Remuneration Order, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull now announced that a re-elected Coalition Government would abolish the responsible Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
The Prime Minister made the joint announcement with Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport the Hon. Darren Chester MP, over the weekend.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) reacted positively, with CEO, Chris Melham, stating the industry “feels like it has been heard”.
Melham urged all political parties to support the Government’s Bill to delay the implementation of the Order.
“The Australian trucking industry already has the most comprehensive road safety ‘watchdog’ in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). It already polices trucking companies to ensure safe driving practices”, he explained
“The pain isn’t going to stop for tens of thousands of owner-drivers until the Senate passes legislation to repeal the Road Safety Remuneration Act and abolish the Tribunal.”
Melham also welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement to bolster the funding of the NHVR by redirecting funds from the RSRT to the NHVR.
“The Heavy Vehicle National Law is seeing a consistent and constructive approach to improving real safety outcomes through fatigue, speeding and loading requirements.
“The only effective solution to dealing with the remaining small recalcitrant minority of the industry who choose not to comply with the law is to ensure effective enforcement of the CoR laws including by closing the remaining gap in the law with the anticipated CoR laws on Roadworthiness."
In line with the ATA’s judgement, the Australian Logistics Council said it approach both MPs and Senators before Parliament resumes next week, calling for the Road Safety Remuneration Act to be repealed and the Tribunal to be abolished.
“ALC will write to all Members and Senators, including the cross-bench Senators, explaining why the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal should be abolished as a matter of urgency,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director.
“The decision in the Federal Court … has heightened the need for urgent action by the Government to bring forward legislation repealing the Road Safety Remuneration Act.
The Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria, meanwhile, reacted by hosting an industry meeting in Ballarat with Senator John Madigan to demonstrate the impact of the Order at a grassroots level. The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) was represented by its Chair, Noelene Watson, and Director, Kathy Williams AM.
Watson said the meeting showed how hard and fast the effects of the order were hitting small operators.
"We've heard a lot very sad stories about owner-drivers who have had their contracts cancelled and were given notice by their customers as a direct result of the order," she said.
"Companies are announcing that they are buying their own trucks, because it's just not viable to use subcontractors any more.
"One owner operator said he had mortgaged his house to purchase a new rig - with no more work coming in, he's now looking at selling his truck at a tremendous loss.
"These drivers have nowhere to go. They're suffering, their families are suffering, and the pressure is immense.
"This order - which was meant to improve safety - is instead directly causing immense hardship for tens of thousands of owner-drivers across Australia.”