The trucking industry is hanging on a thread waiting for some kind of announcement from the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Presumably, they are going to wait until after midday to make any announcement to avoid the announcement appearing like a fools day joke.
The delay in making any sort of announcement is typical of the way the RSRT have been acting on this subject. The transport industry needs the decision, as to whether to delay the Contractor Drivers Order or not, now, any more delay is bound to create even more confusion. The trucking industry does not know what the world is going to look like for them when they wake up on Monday morning, the day the Order is due to come into effect.
Two reports have been released today which outline the damage which could be done to the Australian economy if the Order goes ahead next week. Essentially the trucking industry is faced with three likely scenarios, which have become clear in the recent round of submissions and discussions.
In the worst case scenario, the Order will come into effect on Monday. Higher rates for owner driver subcontractors will be mandatory. This will throw the trucking community into confusion as companies using employee drivers will be able to charge considerably lower rates than those which are covered by the order.
A second possibility is a partial implementation of the new rules being enacted on Monday. The Order will come into effect, but the provisions included in the Order about rates will be delayed until October 1. This will give the industry some time to prepare for the expected outcome of the rates rules kicking in.
The third option is for the entire Order to be delayed until January 1. This is the preferred option on the part of the trucking industry, as a whole. Between now and next January, there is a possibility of a double dissolution election taking place. This should lead to a new Senate and, if the Coalition gets back into power, an opportunity to repeal the law setting up the RSRT in the first place. Alternatively, the nine month delay does give owner drivers an opportunity to find a way to avoid the worst constraints of the order.
One of the lasting effects of this latest fiasco is going to be the resentment on the part of many in the industry about the way they have been treated when making submissions in person during the two recent hearings. The confusion and problems caused will sour relations between the trucking industry and the RSRT well into the future.