The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal must not be reinstated
Labor’s promise to bring back the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) is disappointing and would represent poor policy, according to Warren Clark, CEO of the National Road Transport Association.
“One of the many flaws in the RSRT model of regulation was that its payments order only applied a minimum freight rate to owner drivers. Larger companies were not subject to mandated rates they then had to pass on to their customers.
“The result of this discriminatory regulation was that owner-drivers found themselves unable to compete with the rates offered by their competitors in the marketplace, forcing many to close their doors.”
In the road freight sector, the majority of businesses are small operators (operating two trucks or fewer).
While the argument cited for reinstating the RSRT is reducing the road toll, inquiries by two independent bodies found this short-sighted approach did nothing to improve road safety.
“The RSRT’s only lasting achievement in its first iteration was to put small business owners under intense emotional and financial stress,” said Clark.
“During its investigation, the Small Business Ombudsman heard that the prescription of pay rates not only led to business closures but caused such emotional harm to hard-working small business owners that some took their own lives.”
“The stress that was caused to owner/operators should never again be tolerated. This kind of stress was the opposite of what is needed to produce safe outcomes.
“Without our smaller operators, many Australians find themselves out of work and our transport sector would cease to be as internationally competitive and efficient as it is today.
“We cannot forget. We must learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure they are never repeated.
“NatRoad and its members are fully committed to road safety and know the RSRT is far from the answer.
“We want to have laws and systems in place which advance the aim of reaching zero road fatalities. In our support of better roads, better rest areas for heavy vehicle drivers, chain of responsibility laws and technological change that engineers out many safety problems, such as mandated Electronic Stability Control in new trucks, we are taking a positive stance.
“Improved road safety for all Australians is what we are striving for. That is why NatRoad opposes the resurrection of the RSRT,” Mr Clark concluded.