The Victorian Farmers Federation has praised last night’s Senate decision to scrap the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, saying the Tribunal’s Order to set minimum payment rates for contractors placed a ridiculous burden on farmers and small truck owner-drivers.
VFF Vice President David Jochinke said the order threatened to price small owner-operators out of the market, and meant farmers faced the real risk of having fewer and more expensive options of transporting their produce to market.
The controversial Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Order 2016, which stipulates new minimum prices for contracted transport services, had been in force since early April despite efforts by the National Farmers Federation and Australian Trucking Association to have it delayed.
“The Tribunal was trying to enforce an Order on small businesses, many of them families, that they didn’t understand, with little effort being made to help them understand,” Mr Jochinke said.
“It’s a complex issue that many people had trouble understanding, so it’s comforting to see politicians in Canberra make a decision that benefitted people already doing it tough.”
Smaller hirers such as farmers stood to be hit hard by the Order, with freight rates for smaller jobs normally undertaken by owner drivers expected to skyrocket, while farmers who also drive trucks to supplement their income faced the possibility of no longer being able to source work.
“The trucking industry now has a more level playing field and we’ve been able to keep agricultural transport costs from a steep increase,” Mr Jochinke said.
He said farmers who also drive trucks to supplement their income may also have been unable to source work as a result of the order.