Most readers would be aware of the vigorous public debate that emerged as a result of industry concerns about the adverse economic and employment impact of the Retail Rates Order that was made by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in December 2015 – and came into effect on 7 April 2016 despite several appeals and a Federal Court application seeking to delay the implementation of the Order.

While the current high profile debate focussed on the transport of retail goods and long haul operations (excluding Fuel, Oil and Gas), many will be aware that the RSRT was also in the process of developing a similar order for the transport of Fuel, Oil and Gas.

This latter order risked the imposition of a significant compliance and reporting burden placed on fuel hauliers that was over and above the extensive legislation that is already in place.

In fact, one of ACAPMA’s member businesses suggested that the additional compliance cost of such an order – as framed by the original TWU proposal lodged with the RSRT in March 2014 – could result in an additional 10 to 12 cpl being levied for the transport of fuel to their customers.

As a result of an extensive lobbying effort by owner-drivers and high level government representations by a number of industry associations, including ACAPMA, the debate about the future of the RSRT was brought to a head in Federal Parliament this week as a result of the Government convening a special three-week sitting of Parliament.

In opening the special sitting period, the Governor General declared that the purpose of the sitting period was to consider two pieces of legislation – the establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the repeal of the Road Safety Remuneration Act.

The Bill proposing the repeal of the RSRT was approved by the lower house early in the evening of Monday, 19 April 2016.

Less than two hours later, and with the support of the senate cross benches (with the exception of Senator Ricky Muir), the RSRT Repeal Bill was approved by the Upper House of Federal Parliament.

On the following day, the Legislation was formally approved by the Governor General and the RSRT was scheduled to cease operations from midnight on 21 April 2016.

“As many would be aware, ACAPMA has been involved in this saga for nearly two years in an effort to protect our industry from what we considered to be an unnecessary and costly industrial Order that duplicated much of the safety legislation and compliance practices that were already in place”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

AS a result of the passing of the RSRT Repeal Bill, ACAPMA was quick to acknowledge the strong and positive leadership shown by the Coalition Government on this issue (https://acapmag.com.au/2016/04/rsrt-driven-onto-fast-track-to-oblivion/) – particularly the efforts of Employment Minister, the Hon. Michaelia Cash, who fought valiantly to protect the Australian transport industry from unnecessary and costly legislation that simply could not be justified on road safety grounds.

Unfortunately, ACAPMA understands from media statements made yesterday that the leader of the Australian Labor Party made public a commitment to work with the Transport Workers Union to re-establish the RSRT if Federal Labor is elected to Government during the upcoming 2016 Federal Election.

In the meantime, the operation of the RSRT ceased at midnight this morning (12.01am on 21 April 2016). This means that:
a) The Road Safety Remuneration Act (2012) is no longer in force
b) All Orders that were previously made by the RSRT are no longer legally enforceable
c) All work on draft orders that were being processed by the RSRT has ceased

It is understood that, given the uncertainty about the existing orders, that the Fair Work Ombudsman was not going to prosecute any business for breaches of the existing orders.

“If any fuel retailer receives a breach notice, they should make immediate contact with ACAPMA and we will investigate this matter on their behalf”, said Mark.

“All in all, the events of this week have been a victory for common-sense and our thanks go to those members that have assisted ACAPMA with the RSRT consultative process on the draft Fuel, Oil and Gas Order over the past 2 years”, said Mark.

Members wishing to obtain further information in relation to this matter should contact the ACAPMA Secretariat on 1300 160 270 or email assist@acapma.com.au.

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