Australian Industry Group joins chorus seeking a halt to minimum rates

By: Brad Gardner

Powerful lobby group wants minimum rates delayed until 2017.

Australian Industry Group joins chorus seeking a halt to minimum rates
Ai Group CEO Innes Willox wants minimum rates for owner-drivers delayed and then gradually phased in.


The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is attempting to put a halt to minimum rates for owner-drivers beginning next month, arguing for the scheme to begin next year instead.

The Ai Group has lodged a submission with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) asking it to rethink its decision to introduce minimum hourly and kilometre payments for owner-drivers on April 4.

The group’s submission says the date should be pushed back to January 1 next year on the basis businesses have not had enough time to adjust to the impending regime.

The Ai Group joins the likes of NatRoad, the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) and the Australian Long Distance Owner Drivers Association (ALDODA) in seeking a delay to the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order.

"Pushing the operative date back will allow more time for the order to be understood and for appropriate changes to be made to systems and processes," Ai Group CEO Innes Willox says.

"It would also allow more time for the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and industry groups to develop information resources and tools to assist businesses to comply with the order."

Sections of the trucking industry have been highly critical of the RSRT and FWO, claiming both have failed to provide enough guidance and information to affected parties about minimum rates.

The Ai Group  also wants the new rates phased in over time so that businesses will only be required to pay the full amount 36 months after mandated rates begin.

"Clearly, it is in the interests of all parties for the operative date in the order to be pushed back and for the new minimum rates to be phased in," Willox says.

The Ai Group's submission adds that "a large number" of owner-drivers are likely to lose work come April 4, unless the RSRT’s varies its plans.

"The Current Notice Period is manifestly insufficient and inadequate and thereby does not have regard to the need to avoid unnecessary losses of jobs and work for contractor drivers in the road transport industry," the submission states.

"…delaying the commencement date will reduce the number of jobs that are lost and the amount of work that is lost by contractor drivers because there will be more time for hirers to renegotiate contracts and rates with customers."

The submission says the notice provided to industry about minimum rates has been "manifestly insufficient and inadequate", particularly given the RSRT made its announcement during the Christmas/New Year period.

Furthermore, the Ai Group is critical of the tribunal for releasing an online calculator to determine rates only one month out from the scheme’s commencement.

It says hirers do not have enough time to implement appropriate administrative arrangements to pay owner-drivers in accordance with the RSRT’s requirements.

The submission goes on to claim that the lack of time given to industry runs the risk of encouraging non-compliance.

The Ai Group’s application will be heard alongside submissions from NatRoad, the NRFA and ALDODA.

NatRoad wants minimum rates delayed until January 1 next year, while ALDODA says they should begin on October 3, 2016. The NRFA wants an indefinite delay until all affected parties understand their obligations.

The RSRT will hold its hearing in Brisbane on March 15 at 10am AEDT, with video links throughout Australia to allow other interested parties to be involved.

Those wishing to take part need to notify the tribunal by 12pm AEDT, March 11.




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