Road transport can look forward to a safer, efficient, and more viable future with the passing of a law to expand the powers of the Fair Work Commission (FWC), the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) said today.
Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Bill 2023 has passed the House of Representatives and will start to become law in days, NatRoad Chief Executive Officer Warren Clark said.
“There are questions about some late amendments to the Bill but on balance, it sets up our industry for a better future,” Mr Clark said.
“It gives the FWC power to make binding orders about minimum standards – things like unfair contracts, charges, cost recovery, and levies.
“Any orders will only be able to be made with industry input and extensive consultation and lead time.
“Crucially, they must have regard for competition and our industry’s viability.
“The hard work starts now to make sure the new law operates as it was designed to.”
Mr Clark said a road transport advisory group within the FWC will be created to consult widely and consider expert input before the framing of any orders.
The Government has promised to establish a majority owner drivers sub-committee to advise the FWC about road transport minimum standards.
Mr Clark said NatRoad has questions about some aspects of the law including the so called right to disconnect.
“We note the reference in the legislation to this applying to ‘unreasonable contact’ and that the Government has quite rightly committed to taking out the threat of criminal behaviour.
“Commonsense must prevail with the way this is applied to the road transport sector, especially as safety is a fundamental consideration during long journeys.
“We have questions about the exclusion of livestock road transport from the new powers of the FWC which makes the regulatory environment much more complicated.
“We are concerned about the potential for drivers involved in the livestock freight task being exposed to the same unreasonable contract demands that Fair Work orders will be seeking to eliminate.”