RSRT reminds hearing attendees of no-show jail time
SARTA takes RSRT to task on timing of hurried hearings and tenor of reminder warning
The safe rates order opponents believe the ‘safe rates’ order issue has taken an ominous turn.
Tuesday’s and yesterday’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) hearing attendance and document production subpoenas were followed by a 65 minute warning to apply to set aside or vary their subpoena or face six months’ jail in the event of a non-attendance.
ATN understands the earlier Form F11 attendance-order subpoenas were sent to those transport operators and others in the industry whose submissions seeking a safe rates Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) implementation delay were deemed in need of further investigation.
"You should be aware that it is an offence under section 89 of the Road Safety Remuneration Act to fail to attend at the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in accordance with an Order requiring a person to attend," RSRT president Jennifer Acton’s office states in the last paragraph of the subsequent warning.
"The penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for six months."
The attendance order seeks documents and states that:
"'Document' includes, without limitation:
(a) all forms of documentation recorded in writing or otherwise and includes all information stored on microfiche, or any computer or electronic device or any diskette or CD Rom, or any electronic, magnetic or electro-magnetic format;
(b) notes, minutes memoranda, file notes, emails, including drafts and copies;
(c) any part of a document;
(d) any copy, reproduction or duplicate of the document or of any part of the document; or
(e) any part of such a copy, reproduction or duplicate."
The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) was already indignant about the hearings being held over the official Easter break and the demand for documentation it believes is unrealistic in many cases.
"It is tragic that small mum and dad business people, who are simply reacting legally and responsibly to the Minimum Rates Order and making sensible and utterly necessary business decisions to survive and continue to operate safely and legally, are being treated in this way," SARTA says.
But after the warning SARTA executive director Steve Shearer was appalled by the RSRT’s approach, describing it as "unconscionable".
"I’m flabbergasted," Shearer tells ATN.
He was cynical about the Tribunal’s motives on accelerating the hearings before the April 4 deadline, insisting it has room to adjust aspects of the RSRO’s implementation after that date.
One of the main purposes of today’s RSRT hearing, being held in Melbourne but video-linked to other states, is to consider the witnesses required to attend the daily hearings between Saturday and Monday.
Yesterday, the RSRT rejected a written request by the Australian Industry Group, the Transport Workers Union and other parties for the Tribunal to hold conciliation proceedings in respect to the draft version of RSRO.
The request is not supported by all interested persons, including the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), Acton says.