Calls to abolish RSRT, repeal Act

By: Anjali Behl


ATA, SARTA and Ai Group are calling for the abolition of the Tribunal owing to its flawed approach to road safety

Calls to abolish RSRT, repeal Act
SARTA’s executive director Steve Shearer says the rates order "will immediately consign many thousands of small mum and dad contractor businesses to the scrap heap".

 

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) are echoing the call of other industry voices recommending the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

With the release of the PWC and the Jaguar Consulting reports on the RSRT and the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012, more and more industry bodies have voiced their concerns over the "flawed" approach of the Tribunal towards road safety.

"Until now, the ATA has had no mandate to be involved in the Tribunal," ATA Chair Noelene Watson says.

"However, the definitive findings of today’s reports make it clear that the Act and Tribunal are a threat to the viability of more than 20,000 small trucking operators and to our economy generally.

"The Tribunal has now become involved in business to business transactions.

"The ATA has a duty to protect its small business members from this regulation of how they run their businesses.

"It is essential that operators and drivers are paid fairly.

"The Act and Tribunal are the wrong solution to the problem; the ATA is committed to finding better solutions in a timely manner. 

"Many smaller operators, particularly those in rural and regional areas, will be out of business as a result of the devastating impact of the RSRT and its orders.

"It’s essential for the government to respond to these recommendations as a matter of urgency and abolish this threat to Australia’s trucking operators," Watson says.

SARTA says that both the recent reports reflect the inaccurate link between safety and rates paid to contractors and show that the cost and harm to the economy will be in the order of several billions.

"SARTA calls on the Federal Government to abolish the RSRT on the grounds that the underlying premise that increased rates will improve safety is false and because the economic harm to the country and the devastation of 35,000 contractor mum-and-dad businesses is simply unjustifiable and unacceptable," SARTA’s executive director Steve Shearer says.

Shearer’s comment comes in response to RSRT’s decision to not delay the commencement date of the minimum rates order, which means the new rules will be effective from Monday.

"This [the order] will immediately consign many thousands of small mum and dad contractor businesses to the scrap heap, stripping away their rights to continue to run safe and viable businesses as they have done for decades.

"The harm to thousands of small contractor businesses in the coming weeks will be irreversible if the banks move in and repossess trucks and homes as they grab what assets they can to safeguard the bank's bottom line. We urge the banks to show some humanity and wait and see if we are able to turn this outrage around."

Meanwhile, the Ai Group has demanded the abolition of the Tribunal for "imposing anti-competitive arrangements" on the road transport industry.

"Ai Group has consistently argued for the abolition of the Act and Tribunal on the basis that the notion that paying truck drivers more or differently will lead to fewer road accidents is flawed," Ai Group CEO Innes Willox says.

His comments come as the Federal Government released its review of the RSRT and the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012.

"The RSR Act and Tribunal are imposing anti-competitive arrangements on industry and are distracting government and industry attention and resources away from the measures which are widely recognised as improving road safety.

"The arrangements also threaten jobs and work for contractor drivers, as well as harm to regional and rural areas which are heavily reliant on road transport.

"In contrast to the flawed RSR System, the Ai Group strongly supports the Heavy Vehicle National Law and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator which have the support of industry as well as federal, state and territory governments.

The Group intends to participate in the government’s consultation process to discuss the future of the Tribunal and the rates order.

"We will argue that the Act and Tribunal should be abolished without delay, with attention re-focussed on measures that are widely recognised as improving safety in the road transport industry such as improved roads, improved compliance and use of technology," Willox says.

The Ai Group recently agreed to two variations proposed by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) including, delaying the commencement date to October 1 this year and phasing in of new rates.

Earlier, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) had united with the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) in a call to abolish the Tribunal in order to "avoid the duplication, confusion and costs" that the 2016 Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) will incur.

The LBCA has also accused the Tribunal for being biased and "misleading" the industry.

The Tribunal today decided not to delay the commencement date of the order, which means the new rules will be effective from Monday.

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