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Lennons and Scott’s dispel need for safe rates: Oppn

Coalition MP cites actions against Lennons Transport and Scott's as proof there are enough heavy vehicle enforcement tools in place

By Brad Gardner | March 15, 2012

A senior Coalition frontbencher has used recent actions against Lennons Transport Services and Scott’s to claim there is no need for safe rates to be introduced.

During debate on a bill to introduce a tribunal to set pay rates for truck drivers, opposition spokesman on small business Bruce Billson told Federal Parliament measures already exist to prevent inappropriate demands being put on drivers.

He referred to laws governing speed and fatigue, before citing the recent joint operations between NSW Police and the Roads and Maritime Services that blitzed Lennons and Scott’s to carry out compliance checks.

“Recently, we have seen some high-profile examples with Lennons Transport, and Scott’s in South Australia as evidence of the toolkit that is available now,” Billson says.

“There are mechanisms under state laws and, in some cases federal laws, to take action where drivers are forced to do things they should not do.”

The Opposition does not support the creation of the tribunal, and Billson claims the scheme is based around giving the Transport Workers Union (TWU) more power to impose demands on the trucking industry.

“They want more union members, more control, more influence and more capacity to exercise power to pursue their agenda within the sector,” he says.

The tribunal is a response to a National Transport Commission (NTC) report urging government intervention on the basis low rates of pay in trucking are causing unsafe practices.

The tribunal will have the power to set pay rates and pay-related conditions, including mandating paid waiting times.

Labor MP Amanda Rishworth says it is important the government removes economic incentives that encourage drivers to work unsafely.

“Truck drivers should not have to accept speeding, overloading their trucks, driving excessive hours or cutting back on vehicle maintenance as part of their job description,” she says.

The Opposition rejects there is a link between safety and pay, drawing a rebuke from Blair MP Shayne Neumann.

“This legislation is a world first and it is high time that we did this, and the fact that those opposite cannot bring themselves to support it is a shame and a tragedy and a disgrace,” he says.

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