RSRT on Tour

Remain Vigilant

There is currently a tour of Australia taking place, organised by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) to look into the effects of the recent introduction and then repealing of the the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. The events of early April, when the trucking industry’s issues were actually discussed on prime time television, have now passed and the clean up continues.


Have we learned anything from the experience, or are we all going return to our bunkers and go through the same circular arguments of the past? Hopefully we have learned something and won’t make the same mistakes again. However, the evidence is not strong history won’t repeat itself.


The tour is already underway. The inquiry has already had a couple of meetings, in Adelaide and Perth. The roving inquiry will be coming to a town near you, or quite a long way away, over the coming weeks. The dates and venues can be found on the ASBFEO website.


The quotation we need to think about is, ‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. The whole business from the first introduction of the idea of a RSRT through to the rushed repeal of the legislation was a bit of a schmozzle.


What happens during a schmozzle? Those who are at the extremes of opinion have a field day. The ordinary punter gets frustrated and angry, and then drifts towards the stakeholders who are making the most noise, even if they are not making much sense.


The trucking industry seems to think the whole RSRT issue is over. Judging by the response to the discussion site created by the ASBFEO, specifically, to talk about the effect of the RSRT, nobody’s interested. There have been no ideas posted, to date.


The Australian Trucking Association is trying to drum up interest, putting out media statements in advance of each of the ASBFEO events to remind stakeholders there is an opportunity to get their opinion out there and into the system.


Perhaps we have become complacent, think it’s all going away and won’t come back. That’s not what Transport Workers Union National Secretary, Tony Sheldon thinks. He has come out this week with an article in Independent Australia, which makes a number of valid points about the way the issue is being treated and what the politicians are saying.


He makes a reasoned argument when he talks about the pressures some drivers are under to break the rules and the danger to road safety, and those working in the industry, this constitutes. Overblown claims about 50,000 owner drivers going out of business immediately were just that, overblown, and he uses this to slam the government. Other misinformed comments further weaken the credibility of the case against the return of some form of safe rates regulation.


If the trucking industry wants to get to the point where it can do business without unnecessary regulation and red tape, it needs to demonstrate it can run a safe and responsible industry without any new regulation. It can’t just let the status quo continue and think it will always be thus, it won’t.


If we are out there trying to drive change, pushing for tougher chain of responsibility enforcement, refusing to have anything to do with those who openly flout the law, but who get away with it because no-one else wants the work, then the law makers will see an improving situation in a problem area and leave it alone.


If, however, there are stakeholders out there expressing extreme views, on either side of the argument, then the issue will look like one which needs an imposed solution, another beast like the RSRT.


At discussions like those being organised by the ASBFEO this month we need the sensible operator with reasoned arguments to come to the fore. Another quote comes to mind, this time from Edmund Burke and perhaps a little dramatic, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’.