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Government commits to never re-establish RSRT

Policy-makers to be encouraged to consider flexible compliance options and differentiated regulatory rules for small operators


The federal government has promised to “never” re-establish the tribunal or a similar body that sets up mandatory pay rates that only apply to owner-drivers and small businesses.

The pledge comes in its response to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s (ASBFEO) inquiry report based on the impact of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s minimum payment order on the trucking industry.

The government supports the Ombudsman recommendation that the NSW Industrial Relations Commission must consider the negative impact of the Contractor Driver Minimum Payment Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) on owner-drivers and small business owners before approving the changes to the NSW General Carriage Contract Determination (GCCD).

In order to ease the stress on small operators when developing regulations, the government plans to encourage policy makers to consider various alternatives such as:

  • flexible compliance options
  • differentiated regulatory requirements based on turnover or number of employees
  • simple compliance options for small businesses or risk-based enforcement
  • principles-based approaches augmented with minimum compliance standards, or
  • use of existing data sources and coordination among regulators to minimise reporting requirements.

The government agrees that small businesses should be consulted before a regulation is designed to understand the concerns and impact of the change on the owners.

To guarantee this process, it has adopted a set of engagement principles that include ensuring government agencies identify ways to eliminate unnecessary red tape in all policies affecting small business; collaborate with small business throughout the policymaking process; and improve communication between small businesses and the government.

Although it agrees that small businesses should be “appropriately informed” about changes to formation of a new regulation, it does not agree with the Ombudsman’s suggestion that small business owners must be offered compensation “where appropriate”.

The government says that the Transport and Infrastructure Council and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) are working to “develop smarter roadside compliance systems, more flexible codes of practice arrangements, and education materials to help the road transport industry better understand their safety obligations”.

The report approves the role of industry associations in representing the views of small operators during the development of policies that affect the trucking sector, and the role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to inform industry members about the “changes to the law that extend unfair contract terms protections to business-to-business (B2B UCT) contracts”.

The government also supports the suggestion that industry associations must work with the media to ensure that while reporting accidents involving trucks the fault is not attributed to the driver before the official investigation is complete.

The Ombudsman’s self-initiated inquiry into the ways to reduce payment terms for owner-drivers has also received government backing.

The report is due to be handed to the government in March.

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