RSRO row: Huge convoy leads protests in Adelaide

Transport operators and authorities protest against RSRT's minimum rates rule

RSRO row: Huge convoy leads protests in Adelaide
SARTA’s executive director Steve Shearer


Transport operators, ministers and members of the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) took part in a protest against the minimum rates order outside the Parliament House in Adelaide yesterday.

Some contractors protested on the steps of the building as Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister David Pisoni and SARTA’s executive director Steve Shearer voiced their opinion against the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT)’s order.

This was followed by an anti-RSRT convoy that rolled past the venue with horns blaring in protest against the new rule.

It was the second such protest in the country after more than 100 protestors rallied on the streets of Brisbane, protesting against the 2016 Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO).

Both protests aimed at highlighting the concerns of small transport operators, most of who claim that the new rules include much high payment rates that could potentially drive them out of business.

Shearer informs ATN that a few representatives of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) argued with some of the protestors.

Lawyers from both sides also engaged in a brief debate.

Shearer expresses his discontent on the government’s assertion that RSRO will improve safety on the roads.

"That is just unsubstantiated assertion and nonsense," he says.

Shearer hopes the government gets the message and reconsider the new order that "has little or no substance".

"I have chaired monthly meetings with SA Police for 20 years through which we have achieved a great deal of improvement on both sides of the fence; improved understanding and compliance by operators and improved understanding, consistency and sensible targeted enforcement by the police."

"The problems in the industry are down to a small recalcitrant minority", while the law abiding majority has to "cop the burden and cost" as a result of the actions of the few, he says.

He suggests the government and other authorities must focus on the noncompliant minority and only keep a "watchful eye on the rest" with minimal intervention.

Shearer believes the order will not achieve "any significant safety gains for two reasons: [first] the safety link to rates alleged by the TWU is bogus and overstated and secondly, the RSRO will not be effectively enforced".

"It’s really the classic government game of window dress and run, to make it look like they are doing something when in fact it’s a sham." 

Despite this, he says, the industry could live with the changes, no matter how unfair to the majority of the industry, but not at the expense of destroying up to 30,000 out of over 35,000 small businesses across the country.

There are reports of planned protests in Melbourne during the next three days.

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