This week owner-truck drivers together with representatives from associated industry groups met in Canberra at a roundtable convened by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO). The meeting was part of the initial scoping work as the ASBFEO begin the formal inquiry process exploring the impact the RSRT’s Payments Order has had on small business owner-drivers around the country.
In the room were the Australian Trucking Association, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, National Farmers’ Federation, the Council of Small Business of Australia, NatRoad, Australian Logistics Council, Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia, Trucking Support Agency of Australia, National Road Freighters Association, National Owner Drivers Association and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association.
The Australian Industry Group and the Transport Workers Union were also invited, but were unable to attend.
The ASBFEO, formed in March this year, want to consult as broadly as possible to make sure they get an accurate picture of exactly what’s going on. To do that, they need to hear from as many owner-drivers as they can, to learn directly from them about their experiences.
Owner-drivers have advised the ASBFEO the best way to engage with the sector is through social media, so they will be conducting driver surveys via Facebook, while also utilising their interactive web-platform and 1300 number to continue compiling testimonials from owner-drivers.
The ASBFEO are also in the process of scheduling a series of regional meetings around the country, which will provide owner-drivers and their families with a forum to tell their stories first-hand. Further details on the ASBFEO inquiry, including regional forum dates, are expected to be made available shortly.
After the meeting, the Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, released a statement saying it is becoming clear there are owner-operators who continue to face significant financial hardship within an industry still plagued by uncertainty, and that the inquiry would seek to gather testimonials from as many owner-drivers as possible.
“The discussion was productive and wide-ranging and was an important step in gathering feedback on the issues now facing those affected by the Payments Order, as well as determining the best ways to engage with stakeholders throughout the inquiry,” said Carnell. “There are some owner-drivers who are struggling to recover from the upheaval created by the Payments Order. It’s also evident there’s a level of trepidation out there about what the future holds for the sector.
“We want to consult as broadly as possible to make sure we get an accurate picture of exactly what’s going on. To do that, we need to hear from as many owner-drivers as we can, to learn directly from them about their experiences.
“The Minister’s request to conduct the inquiry explicitly stipulates we also explore the most effective ways that tribunals and similar bodies can constructively and collaboratively engage with the small business sector in the future, so we certainly want to hear from owner-drivers about their experiences dealing with the RSRT, to help establish best practice guidelines going forward.”
Small businesses can contact the ASBFEO on 1300 650 460 or by visiting the ASBFEO website.