In their submission in relation to the Road Transport and Distribution and Long Distance Operations Road Safety Remunerations Order 2014, the Australian Logistics Council has come down hard against the ‘suck it and see’ approach of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
“It will be difficult, if not impossible, to assess the economic burden of the remuneration system on (for example) the Australian economy,” said the ALC in their submission. “However, ALC does not see this as a reason to allow the system to operate for a few years to see what happens.”
The opinion of the ALC can be condensed down to just three main points:
The RSRT should be abolished and the act enabling it be repealed, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator should tackle the job of improving safety outcomes for trucking operators on the nation’s highways, and the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 passed in Victoria is capable of covering the area of contracts between primary contractors and their sub-contractors. This act’s aim is to redress the imbalance caused by smaller owner operators sub-contracting to much larger organisations.
According to the ALC, most of the provisions laid out by the RSRT in their paper, released on December 17 2013 and due to come into effect on May 1 2014, are duplications of rules and regulations already in existence. Gaps can be filled simply by amending the current rules, and not by adding another layer of legislation and more form filling for the people working at the sharp end of the transport industry.
The argument can also be made, the intentions implicit in the order from the RSRT should be achievable under the current Chain of Responsibility rules, in force around the country. So far, the COR has not delivered the kind of improvements in safety and remuneration hoped for when it was originally implemented.
It is probably the ineffectiveness of COR, in the first place, which opened up a situation for something like the RSRT to come along. COR has been hamstrung by ineffective implementation and a reluctance, on the part of some state governments, to take on the big players in the logistics industry. The Transport Workers Union saw their opportunity to sponsor the Tribunal and took their chance well.
Now we have a situation where the RSRT will be operating under a federal government philosophically opposed to its operation. At the same time, the NHVR should come into existence, fully, in the coming weeks and, IT problems notwithstanding, start to get active in the field of COR to get some real safety benefits for the trucking industry and other road users.