States currently considering making changes to the way owner-truck drivers are paid should not ignore the disastrous impact the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) Payments Order had on small businesses, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell said.

The Federal Government today tabled its response to the ASBFEO’s inquiry into the impact of the Order, which not only found it to be discriminatory towards owner-drivers, but found it caused significant financial and emotional distress for mum-and-dad owner-drivers.

“Our report provided a unique insight into the small business owner-driver sector.  It shone a light on issues and concerns that had previously been dismissed, and provided a voice for small businesses who through their experience with the RSRT, felt ignored,” Ms Carnell said.

“In response to our report, the Federal Government has supported the majority of our recommendations, the chief among which is to commit “to never re-establishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, or a similar body that sets mandatory rates of pay for owner drivers and small transport businesses’.

“We’re now calling on decision-makers in Victoria and New South Wales when reviewing mandated minimum rates of pay in this industry, to embrace our report; to learn the lessons of the past and make the same commitment as the Federal Government to never go down this path again,” she said.

The Victorian Government is conducting a review into the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (Vic) and associated regulations, while the NSW Industrial Relations Commission is considering an application to vary the NSW General Carriers Contract Determination.

“As our report highlighted, the RSRT Payments Order caused significant uncertainty in the road transport industry.  This uncertainty and confusion would arguably be worse if Victoria and NSW were to mandate minimum rates of pay on a state-basis,” Ms Carnell said.

Ms Carnell said it was encouraging to see the Federal Government’s support for ASBFEO recommendations encouraging greater road safety education and awareness measures.

“Re-directing the millions of dollars saved from abolishing the RSRT to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is money much better spent, however it’s important that timelines soon be put in place for the implementation of a range of flagged measures, to help increase the safety of all drivers as soon as possible,” Ms Carnell said.

“It’s also simply unacceptable that states and territories still have different laws and requirements in this space; we need a truly national system as a matter of urgency.

“The ASBFEO report into the impact of the RSRT Payments Order – and the Government’s response today – highlights our important role as small business advocate; we’re here to provide a voice for small business; to raise issues of concern and ensure governments at all levels, factor-in the impact of legislation and policy on small businesses and family enterprises,” she said.

For a copy of the ASBFEO RSRT Payments Order report visit: www.asbfeo.gov.au.  For a copy of the Federal Government’s response to the ASBFEO report visit: www.docs.employment.gov.au.

Extracted from ASBFEO.

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