Kate Carnell consults drivers and industry groups about effect of RSRT payment order

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Owner-truck drivers together with representatives from associated industry groups have met in Canberra at the first roundtable convened by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell, to gather feedback ahead of the ASBFEO’s inquiry into the effect the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) Payments Order has had on small businesses.

“Today’s roundtable is part of our initial scoping work as we begin the formal inquiry process exploring the impact the RSRT’s Payments Order has had on small business owner-drivers around the country,” Carnell said.

“The discussion was productive and wide-ranging and was an important step in gathering feedback on the issues now facing those affected by the Payments Order, as well as determining the best ways to engage with stakeholders throughout the inquiry.”

It’s becoming clear there are owner-operators who continue to face significant financial hardship within an industry still plagued by uncertainty and that the inquiry would seek to gather testimonials from as many owner-drivers as possible.

The Federal Government called upon Kate Carnell, the ASBFEO, to conduct the inquiry which will be the first major undertaking in her new role. Before coming into effect, Carnell warned the government that the payment order would have dire impacts on small business owners.

“There are some owner-drivers who are struggling to recover from the upheaval created by the Payments Order. It’s also evident there’s a level of trepidation out there about what the future holds for the sector,” Carnell said.

“We want to consult as broadly as possible to make sure we get an accurate picture of exactly what’s going on. To do that, we need to hear from as many owner-drivers as we can, to learn directly from them about their experiences.”

“Owner-drivers are telling us the best way to engage with the sector is through social media, so we’ll be conducting driver surveys via Facebook, while also utilising our existing consultation mechanisms – our interactive web-platform and 1300 number – to continue compiling testimonials from owner-drivers.”

Carnell is also in the process of scheduling a series of regional meetings around the country, which will provide owner-drivers and their families with a forum to tell their stories first-hand.

 The inquiry will also bring together and evaluate the testimonials of those who had direct dealings with the RSRT.

“The Minister’s request to conduct the inquiry explicitly stipulates we also explore the most effective ways that tribunals and similar bodies can constructively and collaboratively engage with the small business sector in the future, so we certainly want to hear from owner-drivers about their experiences dealing with the RSRT, to help establish best practice guidelines going forward,” Carnell said.

Groups represented at the roundtable included the Australian Trucking Association, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, National Farmers’ Federation, the Council of Small Business of Australia, National Road Transporters Association, Australian Logistics Council, Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia, Trucking Support Agency of Australia, National Road Freighters Association, National Owner Drivers Association and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association. Other bodies including the Australian Industry Group and the Transport Workers Union were also invited, but not in attendance.

Further details on the ASBFEO inquiry, including regional forum dates, will be made available shortly. In the interim, small businesses can contact the ASBFEO on 1300 650 460 or by visiting the website: www.asbfeo.gov.au