A re-elected Coalition Government will abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), and the system payment order it implemented on April 7, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, established by the Gillard Government in 2012, is an independent body led by former Fair Work Commission senior deputy president Jennifer Acton.
Last month it handed down its Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order, which sets out to make the trucking industry safer by enforcing minimum amounts for drivers to charge customers.
Critics of the tribunal have suggested the scheme is a thinly-veiled move to create a union-dominated industry, to force out the thousands of owner-operator truck drivers by making them unable to compete with major operators using a unionised workforce.
Turnbull, in a joint statement with employment minister Michaela Cash and infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester, committed to abolish the newly-launched scheme after the election.
“Bill Shorten set up the Road Safety Remuneration System solely to advantage the Transport Workers Union,” the statement reads.
“The union claims that if you pay someone more money then they will drive more safely. This is not based on evidence or common sense.
“The RSR System is predicated on this flawed claim and it puts tens of thousands of owner-drivers across Australia at risk of being driven out of business.”
Speaking with the media in WA on Monday, the prime minister said the tribunal “was nothing more than a deal between Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard and the Transport Workers’ Union”.
“This order they’ve just made has got nothing to do with safety.
“It’s got everything to do with putting mum and dad businesses, family businesses out of business and that’s why we’re going to move to set that order aside, and when we have the numbers in the Senate to support this to support this, which we hope we can do after the election, we will move to abolish the tribunal.”
Shorten, speaking in Melbourne on Monday, said the scheme simply meant truck drivers would be paid what they deserve.
“It’s demonstrated that when you pay owner-operators and truck drivers very low rates of pay, safety becomes jeopardised,” the leader of the Opposition said.
“Now what we have is a system of minimum conditions which are being rolled out in the truck driving industry.
“Truckies are not well paid by national standards and owner-operator drivers are even less well paid than employee drivers.
“And what happens is that you’ve got truckies who put their relationships under pressure, who are trying to pay the mortgage and the bills, they’re forced to drive and forced to drive at very low rates of pay.”