Appeal ruling defines transporting goods

Federal Court says driving a pre-registration truck cannot be construed as 'transporting goods' under road transport Awards


The Federal Court of Australia upheld its primary judgement in the John Zader versus Truck Moves case, stating that the October 2015 ruling was correct.

The court dismissed an appeal by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which, acting on behalf of Zader, claimed that the truck driver was covered by the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 or the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010, since the company he was working for, Truck Moves, was part of the road transport industry.

The company hires drivers to move unladen vehicles, mostly commercial vehicles that are either new, unregistered or partially built, to wholesalers.

The nub of the case was whether the business involved ‘the transport by road of goods’ and the sense in which the word ‘transport’ was used in the definition of ‘road transport and distribution industry’ in the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010, which covers "employers throughout Australia in the road transport and distribution industry and their employees".

The appeal claimed that the truck being driven by Zader was the ‘good’ and driving it constituted ‘transporting by road’.

However, justices North and Jessup stated that "it is not to the point that trucks may be goods or merchandise.

"As mentioned above, so they may be, but the operation of moving them should, in our view, be regarded as 'transport' only when they are being carried as such.

"To regard a pre-registration truck being driven to the wholesaler’s premises - to take the example which appears to be typical of the respondent’s operations - as goods or merchandise being transported would be, in our view, an awkward and unnatural understanding of the words used in the clause."

Adding that the "objective meaning of the phrase ‘the transport by road of goods’ does not include, as the product being delivered, the very means of transport.

"The ‘goods’ being delivered are separate from the means of transport.

"There is no reason to construe that phrase in any different manner by reference to other provisions of the relevant Award itself, other Awards also made in 2010 as part of the award modernisation process, predecessor State Awards or otherwise."

The judges concluded that drivers such as Zader did not fall within any recognised industry and therefore he was not covered by either Awards.



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