Put it in writing: RSRT not interested in verbal submissions from trucking industry

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner


People who tried to raise their concerns about minimum rates didn’t get far with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

Put it in writing: RSRT not interested in verbal submissions from trucking industry
RSRT president Jennifer Acton says those wanting to have a say on minimum rates need to lodge written submissions.

 

Put it in writing.

That was the message from the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) yesterday when owner-drivers and those representing them tried to explain their concerns about the impact of minimum rates.

Individuals clashed with RSRT president Jennifer Acton on more than one occasion during the hearing on applications to delay the April 4 introduction of minimum rates for owner-drivers.

The tribunal repeatedly told attendees to lodge written submissions about minimum rates on the basis it was the most effective way of dealing with matters.

However, some attendees yesterday sought to voice their concerns, including Tracey Zimmerman whose husband operates as an owner-driver under the name Zimmerman Haulage.

The company last week made a written submission, but Zimmerman told the RSRT she also wanted to "express her anger at the tribunal" about minimum rates.

Almost as soon as she started talking, Acton constantly interrupted her to the point where Zimmerman responded: "Please do not be so rude ma'am, I am talking to you."

The exchange led to RSRT senior deputy president Lea Drake to intervene and tell Zimmerman to address what the tribunal wanted her to, which was for parties to put submissions in writing.

"Just wait one minute. It is very easy to get overheated in here," Drake told Zimmerman.

"The tribunal is not here to have anger expressed at it but to deal with the very specific things that people have been dealing with all morning and up to this very time."

Zimmerman pushed ahead, telling the tribunal that minimum rates would force the hirer using her husband's business to pay an extra $77,000 year.

"No hirer is going to want to hire a sub-contractor owner-driver with that," Zimmerman told the tribunal.

She added that the comment was contained in Zimmerman Haulage’s written submission, leading Acton to respond: "Well why do you think you need to repeat it? Don't you think we can read your written submission?"

"I don't think it is going to get read and that's my honest truth," Zimmerman replied.

"I hope you do read it, I really do because I am not the only person out there who thinks this and is pleading that you do read it and you listen to what we say."

Zimmerman then told the RSRT that building extra rest areas would make more of a difference to safety than increasing the pay of owner-drivers.

"Sorry, it is human nature. It doesn’t matter what you pay a person, if they wish to break the law and continue to make more money they are going to. It doesn’t matter how much you pay them."

Zimmerman received a round of applause from truck drivers gathered at the hearing, despite the RSRT earlier warning them that clapping would not be tolerated.

Owner-driver Rodney Chant, who runs Chant Trans, also approached the tribunal to make a verbal submission on the trucking industry’s improving safety record.

He didn’t get far though, with Acton cutting him off and telling him to put in a written submission.

Prior to proceedings finishing, Acton made a commitment to attendees if they lodged written submissions.

"We can assure you that we will read all the submissions that are made to us, that is our role," she told them.

"It is the most efficient way for us to deal with the matters."

One cynical crowd member wasn’t convinced and muttered: "Oh yeah, throw them in the bin."

 

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