NatRoad clears the air on RSRT

For too long the TWU and the Tribunal have dodged all attempts to dispute the headline statistics regularly quoted by the TWU as the reason for the Tribunal’s existence and power to make Orders that will have limited, if any, effect on road safety outcomes. This is despite the views of the majority of the industry, backed up by respected and valid statistical data that clearly indicates that most road deaths that involve a heavy vehicle are caused by private light vehicle drivers. Valid statistics also indicate the proportion of truck accidents involving long distance transport is significantly less than accidents occurring in metropolitan areas.

It is also proven that the total rate of heavy vehicle accidents has been declining year on year for many years, despite the increased number of heavy vehicles using our roads.

Two recently released Government-commissioned reviews, the 2014 Jaguar Consulting Review and a more recent PwC review, have both recommended the Tribunal be abolished on a number of grounds. Importantly, both studies found the initial Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) that was provided to the Labor Government prior to enacting the legislation advised that the TWU’s alleged link between remuneration and road safety was not definitive and relatively limited. They also advised the implementation of the Road Safety Remuneration Act would impose costs greater than any benefits that may occur.

Indeed, both reviews found clear evidence that the actual safety performance has been reviewed in great detail and is favourable against international benchmarks with heavy vehicle fatality rates falling by 76 per cent between 1988 and 2012. Comparisons with other countries indicate that Australia’s safety performance is a relatively strong one. Despite the fact that all of this information was available, both the TWU and the Tribunal have continued to rely on out of date data and obfuscation of the true facts by using untested headline data on heavy vehicle fatalities.

Australia’s strong safety performance has occurred through a range of proven and effective regulatory reforms, including the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC), the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and State and Territory road transport authorities.

In commenting on whether the Tribunal’s objectives and functions align with Government policies and objectives, the PwC report advised it had not found any additional information to change its originally expressed view.

In the RIS it was stated the focus should be on establishing a link between safety and remuneration, and to date this has not been the subject of objectively based research by the Tribunal.

PwC also advised on the high degree of overlap with other agencies, state road authorities and work health and safety legislation. Its analysis also showed the Tribunal will impose a net cost to the economy in excess of $2 billion over 15 years with a cost benefit ratio of less than one in all cases.

The PwC report did not find contrary evidence to substantiate an ongoing need for the Tribunal, and found the abolition of the Tribunal would result in a significant net benefit to the economy and the community at large. PWC also reported that the Ombudsman is not the appropriate authority to enforce road safety matters.

Initiatives being pursued under the National Road Safety Strategy 2011 – 2020 are actively affecting road safety regulatory reform through a range of programs, including Chain of Responsibility initiatives, which are effective across all jurisdictions.    

In short, both reviews concluded that road safety outcomes and the industry will be better served by initiatives other than the actions of a Tribunal that has acted on the basis of the TWU inspired Safe Rates campaign that is clearly fiction.

The backlash against the Tribunal and the effect of the Contractor Driver Minimum Rates Order can now be played out against all of the matters identified in two comprehensive reviews that both acknowledge the fact that the Tribunal should be abolished.

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