Blanchard's Operations Manager Michael Blanchard with one of the many trucks at the depot in Grafton. Photo: JoJo Newby/The Daily Examiner
Blanchard's Operations Manager Michael Blanchard with one of the many trucks at the depot in Grafton. Photo: JoJo Newby/The Daily Examiner JoJo Newby

Truck industry tribunal hits the road

THE abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was "the only sensible decision there was", according to Blanchard Haulage's Michael Blanchard.

The legislation to remove the tribunal, created by the Labor Government in 2012, came into effect on April 21.

Mr Blanchard said if the tribunal stayed, it would create in effect a two-tiered transport system and an uneven playing field between owner-operator truck drivers and larger trucking companies.

"For independent contractors who have their own vehicles, the remuneration they would receive would depend on a decision made by the tribunal," he said.

"A lot of truck drivers made a conscious decision to become an owner-driver, and if they don't feel like they're getting paid enough they have the right to say they don't want to do it.

"If they were to get a remuneration increase, those costs were going to get passed on to the customers, and when the customer's bucket is dry they've got to charge more or go out of business."

Mr Blanchard said the tribunal rate set was above the market rate in some instances, which would have put close to 40,000 independent owner-drivers at risk of going out of business.

"The owner-operators were told what rates to set, the independent drivers can do it for the same price as the larger companies, but can't if they're legislated to charge a minimum amount," he said.

Mr Blanchard said the direct link between safety and remuneration was "scratchy".

"The industry as a whole is all for safety and a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, but it was mandatory for only independent owner-operators to charge and be paid the set remuneration rates," he said.

"It was just another layer of paperwork, and anyone who used an independent transport provider had to delve in and find out their operating structure, and it was just another cost.

"There was too much grey area, which made it hard to do business."

Mr Blanchard believes the Heavy Vehicle National Regulator will help create one set of nation-wide rules to improve the safety of the heavy vehicle transport industry.



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