April 1, 2016
Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss says thousands of truck owners and operators face ruin with the implementation of a Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal order which fixes higher freight rates for owner operators.
Mr Truss said that late on Friday (April 1), the RSRT refused an application to delay the implementation of the order, leaving truck owners only the weekend to deal with the implications for their businesses and livelihoods.
“The order made by the RSRT took truck owners by surprise,” Mr Truss said.
“It was made just a week before Christmas and now the RSRT has, at the last minute. rejected an application to delay the implementation of the order so that truck owners could address the impact on their business.
“The RSRT has decided to fix rates for freight contracts well above current rates which will price many truck owners out of business.
“The major logistics companies and freight forwarders will be unable to use individual contractors because their rates will be uncompetitive.”
Mr Truss said he has been contacted by many truck owners concerned about the implications of the order for their businesses.
“Many owner operators are heavily indebted and fear losing their trucks and homes,” he said.
“The RSRT was set up by the former Labor federal government at the behest of the Transport Workers Union.
“It is more about union power than safety.
“Indeed, if financial viability is a factor in safety outcomes, the RSRT ruling is likely to worsen safety outcomes as more and more truck drivers are faced with the financial pressure of lost contracts.
“Most truck owners have only recently become aware that they are about to be impacted by an RSRT ruling that they were unaware of and that they had no part in.
“They are not members of the union and don’t wish to be! Many still do not know what the rulings mean and whether they are affected or not.
“The RSRT has now shocked industry again by refusing to delay or to phase in the new rates, a move even the union was prepared to countenance.
“The RSRT is out of control and has proved its critics right with just one ruling!”
Mr Truss urged truck operators to contact their industry associations to seek advice on what they do next.
Queensland Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan said thousands of family-operated transport companies in rural and regional Queensland could be driven to bankruptcy.
Senator O’Sullivan said he was prepared to deliver a private Member’s Bill to the Federal Parliament in the coming weeks to stop the RSRT in its tracks.
The Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order handed down by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in December dictates legally binding minimum hourly and kilometre payments for owner-drivers.
It has been claimed the cost of delivery for independent operators would rise by 15-30 per cent above the market rate charged by bigger transport companies.