Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to delay the start date of the Road Safety Remuneration Order (the Order) vowing to introduce a bill into parliament when it resumes on 18 April.
This legislation is expected to pass with a majority of cross bench members’ support, delaying the implementation of minimum rates for contractor drivers until 1 January 2017.
Meanwhile, a groundswell of negative opinion about the value of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSR) looks likely to spell an end to the authority.
The PM has jumped on board with industry, going so far as to say that if re-elected, the RSRT would cease to exist.
“As you know, we’re bringing the Parliament back early to deal with the ABCC Bill and the Registered Organisations Bill and once they are dealt with we will seek to get a bill passed to ensure that that Order is set aside until next year,” the PM told a media gathering on Tuesday 12 April.
He continued, saying that the Order was “a piece of legislation that has had nothing to do with safety, everything to do with getting small businesses, self-employed people, the enterprising family businesses of Australia off the roads.”
Undermining small business
“But, what we’re committing to today – and this is the most important point – we will, if we are re-elected, abolish the RSRT. It is not a tribunal that does anything effective to do with safety, it undermines owner operators, it undermines small business, it undermines family businesses,” Mr Turnbull stated.
The PM added that the Order threatened the livelihoods of family businesses because the RSRT was “a Labor Party tribunal that was part of a stitch up with the Transport Workers Union”.
He said the Order would send many family businesses to the wall and that was why the Coalition Government was committed to abolishing the tribunal and preventing as quickly as possible the Order from taking effect.
The PM also pointed to two recent reports that have delved into the role of the RSRT, noting that each one recommended that it be abolished.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who was alongside the PM at the announcement, was also critical of the Labor Party and the TWU’s involvement in the RSRT. But she had some positive news for the industry, saying that the $4 million the government expects to save each year from the abolition of the RSRT would be given to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).
“This is the appropriate body to deal with the safety issues in the transport industry in Australia. This body will continue to work closely with State and Territory governments, whom as we know regulate safety on our roads, to ensure that the safety mechanisms that we have in the trucking industry are the best that we can have.
We will work with industry to work out what further practical measures we can put in place to ensure safety,” she said.
Her words only echo what many industry experts and associations have been saying for some time.
How could these changes impact on your CoR obligations?
Can things return to the way they were if the government gets its bill passed and the Order is stayed until 1 January 2017?
What additional powers, if any, will the NHVR have if the RSRT is abolished? How could they affect CoR Laws? And will the $4 million per year that currently funds the RSRT really change hands?
The only way you’ll know for certain, and what it will mean for your business, is by subscribing to the CoR Adviser monthly newsletter.
Compiled by transport law experts at Holding Redlich, the CoR Adviser is the only place you’ll find all CoR-related updates, legal advice, and industry-specific information written in plain English.