Govt legislation commencing April 18 could delay RSRO


Government says it will introduce legislation to delay the commencement of the minimum rates order

Govt legislation commencing April 18 could delay RSRO
Michaelia Cash says April 18 legislation is a priority.

 

The transport industry has welcomed the news that the Federal Government will introduce legislation to delay the start of the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO) to January next year.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) commended federal employment minister Michaelia Cash’s announcement that the government will introduce legislation in the week commencing April 18 to push the start date of the Order.

The Department of Employment will hold consultations with key industry stakeholders to discuss options to reform the Road Safety Remuneration System, which includes the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), and an education and compliance framework administered by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

"This [the consultations] is a priority for the Government as owner-drivers are the lifeblood of the economy," Cash says.

"Anything which threatens their viability will have significant implications across the country – this is not something we will tolerate.

"If the payments order was to come into effect as planned it would be devastating for thousands of owner-drivers and consumers alike."

The consultations are due to begin this week and a few industry bodies have already expressed interest in attending these discussions.

"This is a common sense approach by the government and ALC commits to working with the Department of Employment on the review of the Road Safety Remuneration System," ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says.

The ALC reiterates that the abolition of the RSRT is the "best option" to avoid confusion and costs that result from the Tribunal.

"ALC believes the best way to achieve safety improvements in the heavy vehicle industry is through achieving greater compliance and enforcement of chain of responsibility (part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law)," Kilgariff says.

The Australian Transport Association (ATA) says that it will make a push for the government to come up with a viable solution to the issues surrounding the RSRO during these meetings.

Speaking to Owner//Driver earlier, outgoing Queensland Trucking Association CEO Peter Garske highlighted the need for government intervention beyond the stay order.

"The important thing to note here is that this is only a temporary stay, it does not rule out the implementation of RSRO in the future.

"The government needs to do something in order to prevent this from happening," Garkse says.

Critics of RSRO claim that there is no correlation between road safety and standard minimum rates and state that the Order will cause many owner drivers and small transporters to be priced out of the industry.

The Transport Workers Union, on the other hand, claims that the minimum rates order will encourage safety for drivers, who are compelled to drive long hours without proper rest under personal financial strains.

"Academic studies and coroners’ reports have shown the link between road safety and the pressure drivers are put under because of poor financial return," the TWU states.

Michael Quinlan, a senior academic at the University of New South Wales, agrees with the view that RSRO will set a benchmark for safety in the road transport industry.

"The current system allows drivers to work under unacceptable standards, which not only put their lives at risk but also the lives of people who share the roads with them.

"People who have been sceptical must take a community wide view to understand how this Order will change the lives of truck drivers and people related to industry."

 

 

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