The Federal Court on Thursday afternoon discontinued the temporary stay order that had prevented the 2016 Road Safety Remuneration Order coming into force from Monday, April 4.
The Court also declined a proposal to continue the stay order until Monday, April 11.
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association has advised its members that it understands this means the 2016 Road Safety Remuneration Order is now in force.
The Federal Court has however scheduled hearings to continue considerations about the 2016 Order on May 9-10.
“Unless an application for a stay is made to the High Court, and granted, it appears that the next opportunity to discontinue the 2016 Order will occur when bills are introduced into the Federal Parliament by the Coalition or Senator Lazarus or Senator O’Sullivan,” the ALRTA said in a statement this afternoon.
“This cannot occur before Parliament resumes on Monday 18 April 2016.”
The two-hour forums will be conducted by the Department of Employment and held in the following locations:
- Monday: Perth and Bunbury, WA
- Tuesday: Adelaide, SA
- Wednesday: Mount Gambier, SA
- Thursday: Albury-Wodonga, NSW/Vic and Gatton, Qld
- Friday: Campbell Town Tasmania
(Full forum details, a discussion paper and information on how to register can be found here)
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has proposed, when parliament resumes on April 18, to bring forward legislation to freeze the new minimum payments for owner drivers until next year.
High Court challenge
The developments come as the Independent Contractors Association launches a high court challenge against the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which has introduced the remuneration order.
The Tribunal was established by then Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten under the Gillard Government in 2012.
The Independent Contractors Australia says the order, which involves setting new minimum rates of pay for owner drivers, is unconstitutional.
“This is price-fixing. It’s a direct attack against the fundamentals of how a modern economy works. It destroys market-based economic competition,” the ICA said in a statement.
“We’re saying that the Commonwealth doesn’t have the power to fix prices. That is, the Act is unconstitutional. In 1973 the people of Australia voted against a referendum attempt to give the Commonwealth price-fixing powers.
“We must defend owner-drivers from this ‘evil’ attack against them. We must defend our economy. This is expensive. We are a volunteer organization. We need your help to fund the legal case.”
TWU: Minimum rate order will improve driver safety
The Transport Workers’ Union is urging the Federal Government to support the road safety watchdog following the Federal Court’s decision.
The TWU says the government’s own reports establish the link between pay rates for truck drivers and road safety.
A Government review of the Tribunal published on Friday and relied on by Minister Michaelia Cash showed this Order and a previous Order would result in a 28% reduction in truck crashes, the TWU said.
“The safe rates Order is now in place and I am urging all parties to end the scaremongering and the lies which have been put out about it. This Order will benefit the trucking community, it will begin the process of helping to save lives on the roads and making owner drivers’ businesses more sustainable,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Mr Sheldon said the Order will set safe minimum rates for owner drivers working in retail and long-distance.
“It will address pressure drivers are under to speed, drive long hours, skip mandatory rest breaks and skip maintenance on their vehicles because of financial squeeze placed on them by major clients. Trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession with drivers 15 times more likely than any other profession to die at work. In March alone 25 people died in truck crashes.
“Minister Cash has called for the free market to run riot on trucking families and other road users. This will add to the slaughter on our roads as found by the National Transport Commission in a report in 2008.”
Drivers along with the TWU are continuing to push for minimum rates across the industry with applications before the Tribunal in oil, fuel and gas; ports & wharves; waste; and the delivery of cash and valuables. The TWU is also seeking payment by clients to transport operators within 30 days of work completed.
Mr Sheldon said owner driver Frank Black appealed to the Federal Government to back the work of the Tribunal. “This Order will make us drivers safer on the roads. It will mean we’ll all have a minimum rate which will cover all our costs and help keep our businesses going. All we are saying is: ‘let the Tribunal do its work and help us to tackle the problems in our industry,” he said.
Earlier report: Owner drivers win 11th hour reprieve against fixed pay rates