RSRT abolished by Parliament


The tribunal has been voted out by the coalition and a number of independents

RSRT abolished by Parliament
The RSRT has been abolished.

 

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) has been abolished by the federal parliament overnight with a senate vote of 36 to 32.

Passing through both the House of Representatives and the Senate yesterday, the Road Safety Remuneration Repeal Bill 2016 gained the backing of independent senators Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon, John Madigan, Glenn Lazarus, and minor party members Zhenya (Dio) Wang and Robert (Bob) Day.

Holding to his original opinion from 2014, senator Ricky Muir voted against the repeal Bill.

The Bill means the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO) will also be removed when the abolition act commences on Thursday 21 April.

Pyne introduces the Bill

Introducing the Bill into the House of Representatives, Industry, Innovation, and Science minister Christopher Pyne says the Bill "stands by owner drivers and mum-and-dad small businesses who just want to earn an honest living."

The leader of the house says the RSRT’s refusal to delay the order, "in the face of widespread confusion and misunderstanding" was "the last straw".

"Road accidents involving trucks involve both owner-drivers and employee-drivers and in 84 per cent of cases are caused by the other vehicle involved, not the truck," he says.

"To single one group out, effectively branding them as unsafe, is not only unfair, but it's also wrong, and enormously insulting."

The minister also took a passing shot at the TWU, which Pyne says had instigated a tribunal that had "devastating effects on the industry" and, at the last minute, was trying to save it.

"What an extraordinary and absurd turn of events — the union for whom the tribunal was created, who attacked owner drivers for challenging the Payments Order and went to the Federal Court only two weeks ago to have a stay of the order lifted, is now before its tribunal saying, 'We've changed our mind, we want you to delay the order'," Pyne says.

He also took umbrage to the thought that improved payments will slow down the ‘cowboys’.

"As one owner-driver explained to me, if you pay the cowboy drivers more, because they are cowboys, they will just drive more — more hours, longer distances, to get that money."

Other concerns surrounded the lack of rest breaks in the RSRO and that it doesn’t take safety training into account – "practical measures have all been recognised as having a significant impact on safety and yet the order does not mention them," he says.

Next steps

Pyne confirmed the growing sentiment towards the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), which Longhaul Drivers Association (LDA) president Brian Turpie says is unfit for the job, suggesting it will handle the role.

"We will redirect all the resources from the Road Safety Remuneration System — $4 million each year — to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to ensure the tangible safety measures the industry want are given priority," he says.

On the RSRT, Infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester says "a tribunal of industrial umpires cannot claim to be experts in road safety," and therefore it should be the NHVR which "has the expert knowledge and understanding needed to bring about improvements to the safety of the road transport industry."

Employment minister Michaelia Cash, who has lead the coalition’s efforts, says the government will be consulting with its state counterparts and the industry to "determine how best this resourcing can be used to re-prioritise and strengthen safety measures that will work at the roadside."

 

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