NSW takes Tip Top issue to Canberra

By: Rob McKay

Federal responsibility means state sees local action as ineffective

NSW takes Tip Top issue to Canberra
Owner-drivers speak out on The 7.30 Report earlier this mionth


The Tip Top delivery contractors issue sits squarely in federal hands, the New South Wales government believes.

The state points to legislative changes early this decade that gave Canberra control over such bread-carting small trucking firms and owner-drivers.

"NSW Industrial Relations has explored options to address the issues raised, including the possibility of legislative amendment," a spokesperson for NSW Industrial Relations, the state government department involved, tells Owner//Driver.

"Contracts for bread carters are overseen by the Commonwealth's Independent Contractors Act, which takes precedence over the NSW Industrial Relations Act.

"This means any amendments to state laws are unlikely to be effective in addressing these issues.

"The NSW government will make representations to the Commonwealth government to request a review of the current regulatory arrangements.

"NSW Industrial Relations will continue to monitor this issue and remains committed to ensuring the rights of workers are upheld at state level."

Until September 2011, bread carters in NSW were deemed to be employees by the state Industrial Relations Act 1996, sources say.

As a result, they had the benefit of relevant local industrial instruments.

However, the federal Independent Contractors Act 2006 took effect in this area from September 2011, overriding the provisions of the NSW Industrial Relations Act.

The Independent Contractors Act was based on the principle that independent contracting relationships should be governed by commercial, not industrial, law.

As a result, bread carters became subject to the provisions of the Independent Contractors Act. This means that pay and conditions for bread carters are a matter to be negotiated between the bread manufacturer and the individual bread carter.

Owner//Driver has sought a federal government response.

Meanwhile, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), while saying it cannot provide specific information on companies which may be under investigation, reiterates that the Chain of Responsibility (COR) relates to all actors in the supply chain.

"Roads and Maritime Services is committed to working with the heavy vehicle industry to ensure the highest standards possible for vehicles using NSW roads and assesses and investigates reports of non–compliance with road transport laws or unsafe practices in the industry," an RMS spokesperson tells Owner//Driver.

"Under Chain of Responsibility (COR) laws everyone in the supply chain shares equal responsibility for ensuring breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law do not occur.

"Parties  in the  supply chain  such as consignor/dispatcher, packer, loader, scheduler, consignee/ receiver, manager, as well as the driver and operator  must take all reasonable steps to prevent breaches of the road transport mass, dimension, loading, speed compliance and work hours laws.

"The Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) requires a person not use, or permit to be used on a road, a heavy vehicle which contravenes a heavy vehicle standard.

"A person using or permitting the use a heavy vehicle that is unsafe may be liable for a fine of $6000.

"Roads and Maritime carries out heavy vehicle compliance and enforcement programs supported by more than 280 heavy vehicle inspectors, eight heavy vehicle safety stations and 24 Safe-T-Cam locations.

"Some of these inspections are carried out as a result of information received from the community."


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