Just a fortnight after it implemented a new truck driver payment scheme on April 7, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has been abolished by the Turnbull Government.
The Road Safety Remuneration Repeal Bill 2016 was introduced to Parliament by employment minister Michaela Cash on Monday.
By Tuesday, the bill had passed through both houses and received its final tick of approval from the Governor General.
The tribunal was established by the Gillard Government in 2012, as an independent body to tackle the safety of workers in the trucking industry.
The payment scheme it handed down on April 7 was supposed to fulfil that goal by ensuring minimum payments for truck drivers, so they would not be pressured to work extraordinary hours, or risk their own safety to make enough money.
But critics of the tribunal have argued the scheme was a thinly-veiled move to create a union-dominated industry, by making non-unionised owner-operator truck drivers unable to compete with major operators.
Turnbull said last week that the RSRT had been “set up … solely to advantage the Transport Workers Union,” saying it was “nothing more than a deal between Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard and the Transport Workers Union”.
Cash said common sense had prevailed, with the tribunal now abolished.
“Despite voicing their concerns and appealing for assistance, owner drivers were ignored by the Labor Party, ignored by the Greens and ignored by the TWU,” Cash said on Tuesday.
“We will always stand up for enterprising small businesses who dare to take a risk and invest in themselves and their families to get ahead.”
Minister for infrastructure and transport Darren Chester said the Coalition “stood shoulder to shoulder” with small businesses.
“That is what you can expect from the Liberals and Nationals,” Chester said, “we are the parties of small business and always will be.
“The money saved by abolishing the RSRT will be redirected to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, to work with the states and territories to implement practical safety measures.”
Shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor said the Coalition was “rejecting the body of evidence linking truckies’ wages and road deaths”.
He said Turnbull and Cash were risking more deaths with the bill, tweeting “shame” on Tuesday morning.