Tribunal's abolition only way to avoid confusion: ALC

By: Brad Gardner


LBCA accuses the tribunal for being biased and joins with ALC in wanting an end to it

Tribunal's abolition only way to avoid confusion: ALC
Get rid of it: ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff says the RSRT needs to be abolished.

 

The body responsible for trying to impose minimum rates on owner-drivers must be put down, according to the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).

As debate continues on delaying the new rates scheme, the ALC has entered the fray to restate its case for the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) to be abolished.

The ALC supports a delay to the start of the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order as an initial step, but believes more extreme measures must also be taken.

"However, the abolition of the RSRT is the only real way to avoid the duplication, confusion and costs that this order, and others like it, will inevitably create," ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff says.

The ALC opposed the RSRT’s creation in 2012 and it believes improvements to chain of responsibility law and greater use of telematics to monitor driver speed and fatigue will be more effective than the RSRT at improving safety in the trucking industry.

"There needs to be greater effort by all stakeholders to promote understanding and compliance with chain of responsibility obligations, which is invariably ignored by proponents of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal," Kilgariff says.

"ALC believes that the use of monitoring systems using telematics for compliance purposes should be mandated for heavy linehaul vehicles as part of a company’s compliance with their chain of responsibility obligations."

Kilgariff is critical of the TWU’s campaign for minimum rates in light of figures showing improvements in heavy vehicle safety.

He adds that trucks are not at fault in the majority of fatal crashes involving other vehicles.

"It concerns me when the Transport Workers Union states that the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal is the panacea to all issues in the heavy vehicle industry which, by implication, effectively diminishes the importance of the chain of responsibility concept," he says.

"It is irresponsible for the TWU to constantly link every heavy vehicle accident and fatality with ‘safe rates’, when they possess no more expertise or knowledge of any specific incident than anyone else in the industry or community."

 

LBCA WANTS RSRT GONE

The ALC is not alone in its position on the RSRT, with the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) recently deciding to push for a delay to minimum rates as the first part of a campaign ultimately aimed at abolishing the RSRT.

That decision was made at the LBCA’s 2016 conference where the group’s executive director, Robert Gunning, delivered a lengthy address to attendees about the tribunal.

Throughout the speech, Gunning accused the RSRT of being a pro-union body focused on deceiving the trucking industry, dismissed the link between rates of pay and safety and claimed the tribunal’s actions would cause severe disruption to the industry.

"The Road Safety [Remuneration] Tribunal itself is not an unbiased agent in this," Gunning told transport operators and owner-drivers attending the conference.

"They are the instrument of the TWU. They mean to get you and they mean to deceive you.

"We’re dealing with political agents. They pretend to be judges, they are pseudo judges. They pretend to be taking evidence. It’s bullshit evidence, that’s what the tribunal does.

"‘I only take evidence,’ says the right honourable lord high monk [RSRT president] Jennifer Acton. Evidence is only what she lets into the courtroom from friends.

"Evidence is not what’s going to happen out in the real world, evidence is not 35,000 people facing unemployment because she doesn’t want to hear about that."

Critics of the RSRT's plan believe it will price owner-drivers out of the market because the impending payments are higher than existing market rates.

Gunning also used his speech to urge attendees to raise their concerns about minimum rates at a political level.

"We need to get active. If we sit here and just think it is going to happen elsewhere and it is all too hard, nothing will happen. We can make it happen but you have to get out there and talk to your local MP."

Gunning referred to the online calculator the RSRT developed as proof it was attempting to confuse and deceive the trucking industry about minimum rates.

The tool is designed to help businesses work out what they will need to pay once minimum rates are introduced. It appeared online earlier this year but was then pulled down before returning in early March.

"They are misleading, they are deceiving," Gunning told the conference.

However, a spokesperson for the RSRT says the original calculator had to be taken down and replaced because it was based on the draft rates the tribunal issued.

The draft was altered before a final ruling was made.

"The draft [calculator] came down because it was based on rates in the draft order and a new one put up as as soon as it could be developed," the spokesperson says.

The RSRT is expected to make a decision this week on whether to delay minimum rates or implement them on April 4 as originally intended.

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