Australia, Opinion, Transport News

NatRoad lays out new FWC road transport law questions to government

Despite acknowledging the groundbreaking new law in the road transport sector, NatRoad still has questions that need clarification by the government

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has responded to the passing of the law that expands the power of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) into the transport sector, welcoming it and the safer, efficient and more viable future it poses for the sector.

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No.2) Bill 2023 passed the House of Representatives and is now set to become law in days, with NatRoad CEO Warren Clark saying the law is only the beginning of a wider body of work needed.

“There are questions about some late amendments to the Bill, but on balance, it sets up our industry for a better future,” Clark says.

“It gives the FWC the power to make binding orders about minimum standards on topics such as unfair contracts, charges, cost recovery and levies.

“Any orders will only be able to be made with industry input and extensive consultation and lead time.”

Clark says it’s crucial that the FWC must have regard for competition and the viability of Australia’s road transport industry.

He says the “hard work starts now” to make sure the new law operates as it’s designed to.

Clark says a road transport advisory group within the FWC will be created to widely consult and consider expert input before framing any orders, with the federal government also promising to establish a sub-committee made up of majority owner drivers to advise the FWC about road transport minimum standards.

Despite these moves, Clark says NatRoad still has questions about some aspects of the law, including the potential right to disconnect.

“We note the reference in the legislation to this applying to ‘unreasonable contact’ and that the government has quite rightly committed to taking out the threat of criminal behaviour,” Clark says.
“Common sense must prevail with the way this is applied to the road transport sector, especially as safety is a fundamental consideration during long journeys.

“We have questions about the exclusion of livestock road transport from the new powers of the FWC which makes the regulatory environment much more complicated.

“We are concerned about the potential for drivers involved in the livestock freight task being exposed to the same unreasonable contract demands that Fair Work orders will be seeking to eliminate.”

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