Weekly News – 7 April 2016

Update on the Road Safety Remuneration Order

Consultation Forums

The Federal Government has announced the times and locations of the consultation forums on reform options for the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

All of the forums will be held next week and you must register to attend.

The 2hr forums will be conducted by the Department of Employment and held in the following locations:

  • Monday: Perth & Bunbury
  • Tuesday: Adelaide
  • Wednesday: Mount Gambier
  • Thursday: Albury-Wodonga & Gatton
  • Friday: Campbell Town (Tas)

Full forum details, a discussion paper and information on how to register can be found here:  https://www.employment.gov.au/review-road-safety-remuneration-system

If you are able, please attend and have your say.  There is not much time to prepare but it is better than being threatened with prison over Easter.

The Federal Court Case

Details on this are sketchy, but we understand that the initial case was heard on Wednesday with a decision on the continuation of a stay reserved until Thursday afternoon. A further hearing was set down for May.

More news on this as it comes to hand.

Possible High Court Case

The Independent Contractors Association has announced that the body plans to launch a High Court Challenge.  The basis of the challenge is that the Commonwealth does not have the power to fix prices charged by independent businesses.

The ALRTA understands that in 1973, Australians comprehensively rejected the following referendum question:

  • Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled “An Act to alter the Constitution so as to enable the Australian Parliament to control prices”?

Presumably, the Whitlam Government considered that it did not have power to set prices in the manner in which the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has now ordered and the ALRTA is unware of any later constitutional change that would have altered the situation.

You can find more information here: http://www.independentcontractors.net.au/

ALRTA Welcomes Government Move to Provide Certainty for Owner Drivers

The ALRTA has warmly welcomed the announcement by the Federal Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaela Cash, that the Coalition Government will introduce legislation in the week commencing 18 April 2016 to prevent mandatory minimum rates for owner drivers taking effect before 1 January 2017.

ALRTA National President Kevin Keenan said that a legislative solution would provide all parties with certainty until the Federal Court challenges and Government consultation processes can be completed.

“Safety is our number one issue and everyone deserves to be paid fairly, but the 2016 Road Safety Remuneration Order is anti-competitive and will just destroy small family businesses.  There is no proven link between pay and safety and the very existence of the Tribunal takes the focus off initiatives that do have a proven influence on safety such as chain of responsibility laws, vehicle standards and infrastructure improvements,” said President Keenan.

However, we must also acknowledge that there are a range of views in the transport industry and across the political spectrum.”

“It is now up to the courts to determine whether or not the 2016 Order has been correctly made – but no one knows how long that might take.  At the same time, the Government is consulting with stakeholders on options for future legislative reform.  Again, we do not know how long it will take to reach agreement or exactly when the Federal election will be upon us.”

“In the meantime rural transport operators need some certainty so they can get on with the job of moving Australia’s agricultural produce to our ports and markets.”

“Without the certainty of a legislative delay, owner drivers will suffer because hirers just won’t want the risk of an adverse court finding or election result that puts them in the firing line.  This will affect the entire supply chain, service providers to the transport industry and regional communities.”

“Given all of the circumstances, Senator Cash’s proposal for a legislative delay is sensible and pragmatic.”

“I call on Federal Parliamentarians of all persuasions to support the delay bill, keeping in mind that the Parliament will still have the opportunity to decide on the future of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal at a later date,” said President Keenan.

Senator Lazarus and Senator O’Sullivan to Introduce Repeal Bills

In addition to the Coalition announcement of a ‘delay bill’, Senator Lazarus and Senator O’Sullivan have each separately committed to introducing private senator’s bills that would have the effect of repealing the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012, along with the Tribunal and Orders that it has made.

ALRTA, NFF and COSBOA Write Jointly to all Senators on RSRT Bills

The ALRTA, National Farmers Federation and Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia jointly wrote to all Senators this week outlining our position on the delay and repeal bills.

We laid out our case for why we support a repeal bill as our first preference, but we have also asked all Senators to at least support a delay if they are unable to commit to a full repeal at this stage.

ALRTA in the Media

The ALRTA and our State Associations have been very active in the media over the past month.  We have issued three formal national media statements and have participated in dozens of TV, radio and print interviews – there are just too many to list.

The important thing is that the issue is now mainstream news.  Voters around Australia are aware of the issue and many are following it with interest.

We will continue to work hard to keep the issue in the media and use the political capital to press for change while we can.

National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey (NRBS)

The NHVR will conduct a survey of 9000 heavy vehicles to gather information about the Australian heavy vehicle fleet to assess the standard of roadworthiness and identify causal factors that may result in adverse safety, economic and environmental impacts.

The survey – the first of its kind – is being undertaken to provide a national baseline for the condition of the heavy vehicle fleet against which future reform measures can be assessed. This data will also inform the development of policies implemented as part of a risk-based inspection regime.

The survey is one of eight projects that the NHVR is delivering as part of the Roadworthiness Program.

The overall goal of the program is to encourage a more proactive industry approach to vehicle maintenance that will reduce the social, environmental and economic impacts resulting from unroadworthy heavy vehicles.

For more information visit www.nhvr.gov.au or call 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487). Standard call charges apply, check with your phone provider.

LRTAQ Conference LONGREACH: 19-22 May 2016

Members are invited to the upcoming LRTAQ Conference at Longreach, QLD, 19-22 May 2016.  The conference program also incorporates the LRTAQ AGM and legendary Bull Carter’s Ball.

While you are in Longreach you can check out the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Qantas Founders Museum, Cobb and Co and Powerhouse Museum.

To register click here: http://lrtaq.com.au/