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ATA thanks drivers and pollies for convoy success

MPs and senators line up to get into trucks as repeal confidence rises


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) expressed confidence Senate crossbenchers would support the end of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) after yesterday’s convoy and rally in Canberra.

The convoy, estimated at about 200 trucks, mostly prime movers running bobtail, proved irresistible for quite a few members of parliament and senators, it reports.

ATA CEO Christopher Melham said there could be no doubt of the trucking industry’s backing for the abolition of the RSRT, and welcomed the support of ministers, senators and other members of parliament at today’s event.

“The Road Safety Remuneration System isn’t about safety – it’s about creating a two-tier payment system, where owner drivers and small operators are legally restricted from being able to negotiate their own rates,” Melham says.

“But this doesn’t apply to large fleets. This means that rather than having owner drivers paid more, they are losing jobs as they can no longer compete on price.

“We know there are third and fourth generation family transport businesses who are going out of business as a result of the tribunal. These are livelihoods and careers on the line.

“As Minister Chester said at the rally this morning, you shouldn’t have to drive to Canberra to fight for your job. But hundreds of drivers did travel to Canberra to deliver a clear message – abolish the RSRT, and abolish it now.

“Owner driver Mick Boland really hit the nail on the head when he said that owner drivers are scared for their futures under the tribunal – but they’re fighting, and they’ll keep fighting to save their businesses while they still can.

“It was fantastic to have such strong support from the Government and crossbenchers for the industry at this morning’s event.

“Having Minister Chester, minister Cash and senator John Williams address the rally, along with senator Lazarus, senator Day, Senator Wang and senator Xenophon, really shows their understanding of the pressure that is being put on our owner drivers.

“Senator John Williams took delivery of the ATA’s petition to abolish the RSRT to introduce it to Parliament today. John even jumped behind the wheel himself in this morning’s convoy, while owner-driver Greg Hollis took the passenger seat.”

Melham applauded MPs and senators who took the time to ride in the convoy with members of their electorates, including:

  • Senator Fiona Nash
  • Sussan Ley
  • Keith Pitt
  • Wyatt Roy
  • Michael McCormack
  • Senator John Williams
  • Senator Chris Back
  • Michelle Landry
  • Brett Whiteley
  • Scott Buchholz
  • Senator Glenn Lazarus.

“The trucking industry already has a safety body – it’s called the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator,” Melham says.

“The Road Safety Remuneration System is putting owner drivers and family operations out of business, and it needs to be abolished now.”

Asked about the rally in against the tribunal he was instrumental in setting up, Opposition leader Bill Shorten put industry anxiety down to uncertainty and backed a delay in the RSRO’s implementation.

“Well I think what’s happening is that there’s been a lot of confusion about the implementation of new minimum rates and I can respect the concern that causes,” Shorten says.

“But the solution, if there’s detail about minimum rates of pay, isn’t to get rid of the independent umpire.

“The solution to road safety in this country isn’t to deregulate the wage rates of owner drivers so it’s just the law of the jungle applying in terms of what people get paid.”

Shorten reiterates that the opposition is looking for a nine-month delay for the RSRO.

“Absolutely, we’ve said that we think the independent tribunal should delay some of the new minimum wage orders until the first of January next year,” he says.

“That’s how you fix things.”

“Image if the independent tribunal passes a minimum wage case for workers and Mr Turnbull doesn’t like that. Imagine if the independent umpire decides to increase casual loadings that people receive or penalty rates.

“What is Mr Turnbull now going to do if a few 100 people complain about the national independent umpire for wage rates? Mr Turnbull is only doing this to keep the right wing of his political party happy. He has no consistency of interest in the issues of road safety that I’ve seen him speak about.” 

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