The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s payments order was scrapped earlier this year, but long standing implications are still at the front of mind for many owner-drivers.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell is calling on owner-truck drivers affected by changes by the RSRT to come forward and share their experience.
The ABSFEO is gathering testimonials from owner-operators across the country as part of an inquiry into the effect the Payments Order has had on small businesses across the country.
“We want to consult as broadly as possible to make sure we get an accurate picture of the overall impact of the Payments Order, including the experiences owner-drivers had in dealing with the Tribunal,” Ms Carnell said.
“As well as accepting online testimonials, we will also be holding public consultations around the country to hear first-hand accounts from owner-operators about their circumstances before, during and after the Payments Order was in place.”
The Inquiry covers the period leading up to the commencement of the 2016 Order, through to the abolition, and any lasting impact on affected parties and will be made available to the government of the day following the 2016 Federal Election in the hope of preventing widespread disruption to the industry in the future.
Ms Carnell said preliminary investigations, including a round table with representatives from peak industry groups such as the Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA), Australian Trucking Association (ATA), NatRoad and the Australian Livestock and Rural Transport Association (ALRTA), reveal many owner-operators continue to face significant financial hardship in the aftermath of the Order, with some unable to find work.
“It’s apparent there are owner-operators out there who are struggling to get back on their feet, partly because previous employers are reluctant to hire those small business drivers again,” Ms Carnell said.
HVIA CEO Brett Wright said the flow on effects of the Payments Order are becoming clearer with cases now coming to light where orders for new vehicles were impacted or cancelled.
“Further, there were also grave fears expressed by some in industry that the second hand vehicle market would have been flooded and the value of trucks and trailers dramatically reduced as owner-drivers and small operators began to feel the impact of the order and simply parked them up or sent them to auction,” Mr Wright said.
Ms Carnell is urging businesses that have used owner-drivers in the past, to consider doing so once again.
“All we ask is that larger companies consider contracting owner-drivers wherever possible during this period, as they attempt to recoup their lost revenue and get their business back up and running,” Ms Carnell said.
“This will not only help ensure the long-term viability of small business owner-drivers in Australia, but fundamentally it will help ensure the entire road transport sector continues to remain competitive going forward,” she said.
Those wishing to contribute to the inquiry can do so at: www.asbfeo.gov.au/consultation Dates for the public consultations will also be posted on the website.