The Government should amend the road transport sections of its closing loopholes bill following the Senate committee report on the bill, ATA CEO Mathew Munro said today.
The Senate Education and Employment Committee published its report this week.
The Government senators on the committee recommended that the bill be passed with amendments to its road transport sections. The road transport sections of the bill would enable the Fair Work Commission to make minimum standards orders for owner drivers.
Their report proposes that the bill be amended to empower the commission to make orders in relation to the whole contract chain, not just owner drivers. At present, the bill would enable the Government to make regulations about this.
Mr Munro said that embedding the power in the bill would provide more certainty for the industry, as the ATA argued in its submission.
“Road transport industry contractual chain orders will be as important as road transport minimum standards orders. Accordingly, the Act should set out the commission’s powers, rather than leaving them to regulation later,” Mr Munro said. The report argues for a new failsafe mechanism to enable the minister, or the commission on application, to defer or suspend an order while the commission reviews it.
“The case for the failsafe mechanism is that this would be a new role for the commission that would involve issuing orders about business-to-business transactions,” Mr Munro said.
“Again, it’s important that the failsafe mechanism is in the Act rather than leaving it to regulation.”
The report recommends that the Government examine the merits of amending the bill to require that owner drivers or their representatives be included on a road transport advisory group subcommittee when minimum standards orders covering owner drivers are being considered.
Mr Munro urged the Government to go further than the committee.
“Owner drivers or their representative should hold a majority of positions on any advisory committee looking at orders relating to owner drivers,” he said.
Mathew said the ATA was continuing to work constructively with the Government on the detail of the bill.
“I want to thank Minister Burke and his staff for their willingness to listen to the arguments that the ATA has put forward on behalf of our members,” he said.