VTA Members meet on Safe Rates

At a meeting held on Thursday 20th January, over 40 VTA members strongly debated the issue of Safe Rates and the recently released Safe Rates/Safe Roads Directions Paper produced by the Federal Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations.

Philip Lovel, VTA CEO and Chairman of the workshop, opened the meeting by stating that the debate has gone past the causal link between payment methodologies and accidents. The focus must now be about improving safety outcomes on the roads.

Mr Lovel said, “That argument has been had and we are where we are. We should now be focusing on the three options in the directions paper.”
These options are:

1. A specialist tribunal under Transport Legislation
2. A “Safe Rates” Panel within Fair Work Australia, with owner drivers being dealt with under a tribunal established under the Independent Contractors Act 2006
3. Extending the Fair Work Act 2009 to empower Fair Work Australia to deal with both employees and owner drivers
Members expressed concerns about forming a specific position on any of the three options as a lot more detail is required. “The devil is in the detail,” Mr Lovel said.

Points of interest were: how this issue fits with the recently released “National Road Safety Heavy Vehicle Strategy?”; that the power of any of the tribunal is unclear and there is no power to arbitrate; that the tribunal must look at the entire supply chain, including customer contracts; and what sector coverage will the tribunal system have – does it cover all industries, i.e. Agriculture, Mining, Couriers etc?

Several large customers attended the seminar and expressed concern about safety being linked to rates. “A lot of work has already been done on Australian Logistics Codes of Practice,” one major customer said.
Further, strong opinions were expressed about potentially increasing rates across all industry sectors in an uncertain economic and volatile global market.

The VTA is now compiling a submission to be presented to the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation’s Council meeting on 2 February before its submission is presented to DEEWR in mid-February.

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