Victoria owner-driver model not acceptable: Quinlan

Victoria's mediation-style law to protect owner drivers and forestry operators "just doesn’t work", co-author of fixed rates report says

By Samantha Freestone

Victoria’s mediation-style law to protect owner drivers and forestry operators "just doesn’t work" as a national option, the co-author of a report in pay rates says.

Professor Michael Quinlan, who co-authored a review into the link between safety and pay in the trucking industry, refutes claims Victoria’s Owner Driver and Forestry Contractor’s Act can be a compromise to mandated rates.

"Mediation-based laws don’t work," Quinlan says.

"I’m not saying they are not of some use, but the only way you change the industry is by mandating. People always break ranks."

Quinlan, however, is supportive of the Act in that it encourages written contracts which he says is important because it gives drivers a good outcome in some cases.

But he says it places too much responsibility on the owner driver.

Sections of the trucking industry refuse to back fixed rates, claiming the different truck and trailer configurations and different operator costs means it is too hard to set a uniform rate.

While understanding there are complexities, Quinlan says they can be dealt with.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) supports the Victorian model and wants it adopted nationally.

A similar dispute resolution tribunal has been set up in Western Australia. But Quinlan says it is not an acceptable alternative to his model, which calls for a federal body made up of industry and industrial relations and safety experts.

Quinlan earlier this month submitted his report to the Australian Transport Council (ATC).

It found and "overwhelming" link between pay and road safety based on academic studies, coronial inquests, court and industrial tribunal hearings and government inquiries.

"There is solid survey evidence linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use," the report says.

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