Grace Collier, 12 April 2016

In the truckie community, the carnage has begun. Bank managers are on the phone. Can loan payments be made? Has work dried up? Yes, customers are cancelling orders. No one can take the risk. Long relationships are fracturing, because the risk of a $54,000 fine has driven a wedge between them.

Already, one man, with four small children, has been talked out of committing suicide.

Malcolm Turnbull wants to fix all this. After the election.

Next week, the government will put legislation to delay the draconian “safe rates” order issued by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, and then after the next election, presuming they win and presuming they have the numbers, legislation to abolish the RSRT will be put through.

What if the Coalition loses the election? What if after the election they don’t have the numbers?

Self-employed people do not have the means to suspend trading and just hang on without income for months. Their trucks will have been seized and sold. You’d think the Liberal Party leadership would understand this. Instead, truckies are urged to drive to Canberra for a rally. Self-employed truckies can’t afford to stand about waving placards and shaking their fists, just so politicians can stand shoulder to shoulder with them on TV.

The Prime Minister cannot put legislation to abolish the RSRT next week, party hardheads say, because they don’t believe they have the support. They believe they do have support for a delay, however. And so this is the only legislation they can put.

However, Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus gets it. Everybody is pinning their hopes on Lazarus, who says: “Truckies cannot wait until August … we can get rid of the RSRT and the order next week. Let’s just get on with the job.”

Lazarus will introduce a bill to abolish the RSRT. Behind the scenes, fed-up Coalition supporters have been lobbying the crossbenchers hard. This disparate group of people are uniting. It looks like the numbers may fall towards Lazarus. Even Labor hardheads admit the tide has turned.

No matter where you sit, Turnbull’s strategy is difficult to back. To the supporter, it looks nonsensical and gutless. To the agnostic, it looks mean and tricky. Turnbull could end up with serious amounts of egg on his face.

What if everyone votes with Lazarus? The PM will find himself spectacularly gazumped by the crossbench over a line-in-the-sand issue, and this colossal failure will prove to be the defining moment of his first term.

Extracted in full from The Australian.