House debates

Monday, 18 April 2016

Bills

Road Safety Remuneration Amendment (Protecting Owner Drivers) Bill 2016; Consideration in Detail

8:35 pm

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the Road Safety Remuneration Amendment (Protecting Owner Drivers) Bill 2016. As we all know, the Road Safety Remuneration Repeal Bill has now passed this House and gone up to the Senate. And I would like to congratulate the House on passing that bill, because this is probably the most egregious legislation that has come before me, to my knowledge, since I was elected to this House.

Were hundreds and thousands of owner-drivers mistaken? No, they were not. They knew the full intent of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal order. It was designed to make them uncompetitive, send them out of business and send them driving down the road to work in a unionised workforce for some of the major primes. It was so blatant and so obvious. I am just flabbergasted that people who spoke up about it three and four months ago were not getting traction. Why, at three minutes to midnight, did Australia suddenly wake up to the fact that it is a complete doddle, a smokescreen and a Trojan horse to destroy the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of small businesses?

Less than a week ago, one of my reliable stock haulage contractors, Bryan Alley, rang me and said: 'David, what am I going to do? If I don't follow these ridiculous pay orders, I could be fined $54,000.' That is $54,000 for not charging too much money, for uncompetitive rates. That would mean no-one would use him, It is going to send him to the wall. That does not increase his safety; it increases the chance of him and his family losing their livelihood. I know there are plenty of others in the livestock haulage business around the Lyne electorate. There are many people who depend on transport. It is the lifeblood of Australian industry.

But it is not just stock haulage and freight. There will be huge ramifications for metropolitan areas too. When you move house, apartments or whatever, you get removalists. Many of them are small business men and women with their own truck and their own business. As the member for Calare so rightly pointed out, if this were really about safety, it would apply across the whole industry, not just to small business people and owner-operators. It would not be selective.

Also, it flies in the face of observed fact. Truck safety has been improving. The number of truck driver injuries and deaths has been reduced. There have been many layers of regulation across state bodies and other federal bodies that have led to that. One interesting fact is that when you look at the truck fatalities, in two out of three of those crashes, road crash investigations revealed that the truck driver was not at fault. What were these people thinking—that only owner-drivers are unsafe? The previous speaker, the member for Gellibrand, mentioned that driving a truck is 15 times more dangerous, but the obvious reason for that is that transport drivers work 40 or 50 hours a week. Most of us who are driving around and at risk of road fatalities have 15 or 40 times less time on the road. It is quite obvious that, if you are doing that the whole time, the statistics reflect that.

I am so proud that common sense has prevailed in this House this afternoon. The National Party—my colleagues—all got behind this weeks and months ago. I am so glad that Australia woke up and realised what was at stake. The repeal bill has gone up to the Senate, but these days we can never really depend on some members of the Senate. They follow the instructions of their union backers. So this Road Safety Remuneration Amendment (Protecting Owner Drivers) Bill is equally important. Should they reject the other bill up in the Senate, at least we will have this legislation that will defer things until 2017, when we will have time to discuss this further and point out the obvious— (Time expired)

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