NatRoad takes swipe at Victorian safe rates inquiry

By: Rob McKay

Minister plays straight bat as doubt raised on impetus for probe

NatRoad takes swipe at Victorian safe rates inquiry
Natalie Hutchins says NatRoad will get its input during the review process.


The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has taken a hard line against a Victorian government move to review that state’s laws regulating owner drivers and forestry contractors.

The tenor of the review’s announcement, particularly as it relates to the axed Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, appears to have caused concern at the national body.

"Mum and Dad small trucking businesses in Victoria are about to be unfairly targeted once more in a review by the Victorian Government," it says.

The state government insists the impetus was its recent Inquiry into Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work that "heard evidence on a range of issues regarding rates of pay, certainty of working hours, and occupational health and safety for tip truck owner drivers".

"Economic pressures on the industry through the supply chain have forced some drivers into unsafe practices," it says.

"This has been further exacerbated by the Turnbull Government’s decision to dump the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, leaving drivers without the protection they need.

"The review will aim to update the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act to improve the conditions of drivers and forestry contractors and ensure they're not being exploited."

With NatRoad an energetic opponent of the RSRT that has move to resist expansion of the General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD) in New South Wales developments, CEO Warren Clark has voiced its suspicions.

"This Victorian review has all the hallmarks of union pushed industrial changes that unfairly target small trucking businesses in the transport sector," Clark says.

 "It is unlikely this review is about safety as these are union backed industrial changes that are about removing small independent mum and dad trucking businesses from the market.

"Unions favour an employee and employer model in the market, not independent small businesses that can set their own rates like small trucking businesses.

"The unions have active industrial campaigns to bring about these unfair changes in New South Wales and now in Victoria.

"Road transport doesn’t stop at State borders – so why do we continue to create red tape and complex industrial awards for a national industry?"

"Adequate Commonwealth protections for small operators and contract carriers are in place through the Fair Work Act and the Independent Contractors Act."

"The Federal Parliament is also actively pursuing greater 30 day payment protections for small businesses which will benefit mum and dad trucking operations.

"We will work with the Transport Industrial Council on this review, representing our members interest and present the case for small trucking businesses has we have always done."

He adds that NatRoad will make a submission to the Victorian Government’s Review and continue to represent member interest in the NSW Industrial Commission "where the unions are pushing similar rates on the industry which should instead be governed by the market".

"This review is a direct result of calls from the industry, the community, and drivers themselves," industrial relations minister Natalie Hutchins tells ATN.

"The National Road Transport Association, like all other organisations, will have the opportunity to have their say during the review process."

Details of the review can be found here.

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