Monday, 18 April 2016
Road Safety Remuneration Amendment (Protecting Owner Drivers) Bill 2016; Consideration in Detail
I rise to strongly support the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and to support the cognate bill. I also write to support the thousands and thousands of men and women who are owner-drivers in Australia, around 35,000 of them, particularly the owner-drivers who still have customers, who are out there working right now. For those whose trucks are parked up waiting for the abolition of this tribunal, the coalition government have prioritised this legislation to get you back on the road as soon as we possibly can.
I want to personally apologise to each and every one of you who has been vilified by the Labor members opposite. Some of the comments have been absolutely disgusting. I can tell you that I am proud to represent you here in the Australian parliament. I respect the work you do, your professionalism and the passion you have for your industry, your business, your family and your local communities.
My father was an owner-driver all his life. His first truck was a 1948 Diamond T. His second truck was an International BCF180, which he drove for 37 years. My family still has both of those trucks. The Diamond is in mint condition, and the BCF could do a day's work every day. Why? It is because my dad was committed to the safety and maintenance of his trucks. His life depended on that maintenance every day. For my brother and I, who were frequently with him in the truck, our lives depended on that maintenance. And my father, like other owner-drivers, wanted to get home safely every night and see community members get home safely to their families every day as well.
My father loved his trucks with a passion. They were his pride and joy. When he and my mother bought their house block in Brunswick, he did the earthworks but built the shed first because the trucks needed to be under cover. He loved his trucks, and he loved the work he was able to do with them. It was all about the job—just like all the great owner-drivers I have met recently. They take great pride in their rigs and their work. They just want to get on with their job, and that is what we are helping them to do. Like many of the drivers I have met recently, my father donated his time, his machinery and his expertise to countless local projects.
My brother, Lindsay, like every owner-driver I know, is committed to the maintenance and safety of his truck. He is out on the road right now. He is the second generation in our family in this industry, and his son Shane is the third generation. Lindsay, like many owner-drivers, does his own maintenance. He started as a mechanic. Others, like Shane, started as heavy duty mechanics.
In the time that I have left I want to thank all the drivers who have been part of the convoy to Canberra, including those I met recently who have already closed their businesses and are trying to sell their trucks. One man has already closed his business because of the order and has his trucks on the market. He told me he has put drivers off because he knew he would never be able to sell his trucks when so many owner-drivers were going out of business because of the order. One of the owner-drivers has had to put his house on the market as well.
I want to thank all of the drivers—the men and women and their families—who have rallied to say no to the order and no to the RSRT. These are the people who simply want to get on with what my father did: start a small trucking business; put a roof over their family's heads; feed, clothe and educate their children; and help their local community. I want to thank Mark Talbot, Mark Sullivan, Stephen and Frank Marley, Shannon Dawson, John Mitchell, Darren Power, Baden Mills, Wayne Copeland and Jan Cooper of the Livestock and Rural Transport Association. These people are all part of the crew who were in Perth last week. I want to thank Lodehaul and especially Raquel Moulds, who has worked so hard to help save the industry and was part of the convoy-to-Canberra crew. I want to thank all of those who fronted up at parliament today.
I will quote some of the words of Mark Sullivan, from Cunerdin, who said:
As a rural transporter who gives a level of service so that we can get repeat business every season, all of a sudden—
because of this order—
we can't negotiate a reasonable rate to backload or look after our customers' needs.
That is exactly what the owner-drivers are about: looking after their customers' needs.
Mark also said:
You will have to apply the minimum break both ways and what will happen is the price ourselves out of the market and customers will look elsewhere may lead to an operator who isn't caught up in the order.
That is exactly the way it is.
The complexity of the order, with owner-drivers unable to interpret the order without having to seek some form of legal advice, is another layer of red tape that these small businesses do not need. I support these fantastic owner-drivers in Australia and I am proud to represent them in this place.