House debates

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Questions without Notice

Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

2:43 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Small Business. Will the minister inform the House of the findings of the inquiry into the effect of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal's payments order on Australian small businesses?

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Minister for Small Business) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Page for his question. I visited the member during the election campaign and it was clear how vital the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was to truckies within the member's electorate. With communities and farmers in the Northern Rivers who rely on truckies to get their produce to market, the member understands how important this report is for small business. He understands small business want to get truckies on the road and they want to do business in such a way that will generate income for more local small businesses and their families. I know the RSRT's abolition was one of the member's priorities, like every other Liberal and National Party member in this place. They also wanted to see the end of the RSRT and our owner-operators—truckies—get a fair deal.

Fleet owner Tony Flynn of Lismore, in the member's electorate, who runs a fleet of 70 rigs and employs more than 150 people on the North Coast in New South Wales, has applauded the government's decision to abolish the payments order. He told the Lismore Echo on 21 April that:

There is no way my business would be in the position it is today if there had been a scheme such as this when I was starting out as a small owner-operator.

Yet this is entirely at odds with the Labor Party's Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal payments order brought about when the member for Maribyrnong was the employment minister.

This morning I stood with the Minister for Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, and we spoke of the personal, the financial and the ongoing effects of the ill-named Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal payments order.

Last night, I tabled the 59-page report put together by the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell. I urge every member, especially every Labor Party member, to read the report and to consider the recommendations. I should read No. 1, which says:

When developing regulation that will have a significant impact on small businesses, consideration should be given to the potential impact on people’s mental health.

The inquiry was requested on 8 May 2016, the payments order came into effect on 7 April 2016, and the legislation to abolish the RSRT was passed on 18 April, taking effect three days later.

The road transport sector employs around 200,000 drivers and contributes $51 billion to the national economy. The report is a damning indictment of both Labor and the unions. It is also a damning indictment of the member for Maribyrnong. In his absence, I think the member for Gorton needs to step up, to look small business in the eye and to promise them that this payments order, which took so many owner-operators off the road, will never, ever be brought back in again. (Time expired)

Ms Scott interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Lindsay is now warned.