70,000 Small Business Owner Drivers At Risk If Minimum Payments Order Is Implemented

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Just before it was about to come into effect, the Federal Court has granted a stay on the decision by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s recent Order prescribing minimum payments for owner operator drivers. The Order, which was due to come into effect yesterday (Monday April 4) would have dire impacts on over 70,000 small business owners if it was implemented, Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says.

“This order has potentially drastic consequences for the upwards of 70,000 owner drivers who have mortgaged their homes in reliance on income from operating small businesses in the trucking industry. Recognising this, a number of applications were made by truck drivers, industry associations and others to defer the start date of the Order,” Carnell said.

It is unclear whether the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 will be implemented or amended. As it stands, it would introduce national minimum payments for certain contractor drivers in the road transport industry.
“At the moment, owner-operator truck drivers so set their own prices. As do any owner-operators. If they employ someone to drive, there’s an award in place right now and they have to comply with that award. The full bench is now due to meet tomorrow in Brisbane to hear the stay applications to determine which way to go,” Carnell told KBB.
Peter Strong, CEO of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA)  told KBB the Order would be unfair on small businesses.

“They want to set the minimum price owner-operator can charge. If you’re a big business you’re not affected by this; you can charge whatever you what. Although one of the things the tribunal is looking at is telling everybody what they can charge. In a market economy, that’s quite a bizarre thing,” Strong said.

“Safety is of paramount importance. And if you want safety on the road, you don’t make it confusing.”

Carnell says that while the stay is good news, the fight isn’t over yet.

“The stay is a welcome reprieve for truck drivers, industry associations and others who had been seeking to defer the start date of the Order. The stay has reduced some of the upheaval for hard working small business operators across Australia, although it needs to be remembered that the stay is only an interim measure until the Federal Court makes a further determination on the matter,” Carnell said.