Don't abandon RSRT, Labor urges Coalition

By: Brad Gardner

Federal Opposition maintains the pressure on the Coalition to retain the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

The federal Opposition is maintaining pressure on the Government to stick with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal just weeks out from the body's first hearing on pay rates for truck drivers.

Fowler MP and Chief Opposition Whip Chris Hayes has raised concerns about the future of the RSRT, which is currently under review.

Hayes says the tribunal, established when Labor was in office, aims to improve safety standards in the industry.

"Late last year, the Abbott government commissioned a review of the road safety remuneration system, and it now appears that the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal may be one of the first victims in an effort to reduce regulation in the industry," Hayes says.

"The tribunal, established two years ago, was put in place to create an effective safe rates system to improve the safety in what is widely known as Australia's deadliest industry."

The RSRT has already issued it's first road safety remuneration order and will begin dealing with remuneration methods and pay rates for independent contractors and employee drivers on April 4 in Sydney.

Submissions have been lodged with the tribunal advocating mandatory minimum rates, cost calculators, and  an allowance for drivers to account for the dangers they face on the road.

The Coalition did not support the creation of the tribunal when it was in opposition and rejected findings that linked low rates of pay in the trucking industry to poor safety.

But Hayes says the connection exists, and he blames trucking's clients for driving down safety standards.

"Financial pressures from the top of the supply chain are causing reckless behaviour, endangering drivers and all other road users. Our truck drivers work hard to make a living but they should not have to die to make a living," he says.

"I urge the Government not to abandon the efforts of Labor over the last couple of years to strengthen and support safety on our roads."

The RSRT's remuneration order will require transport operators and the broader supply chain to comply with a host of new measures from May 1, including paying independent contractors within 30 days of completing work.  

Companies will also be required to implement safe driving plans, written contracts and drug and alcohol policies.

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