Business SA has called on the Federal Government to ensure that an imminent review of the Road Safety Remuneration Act is an independent analysis that gets to the heart of the issue of whether safety on roads is influenced by the remuneration of road transport operators.
The Road Safety Remuneration Act, introduced by the Labor Government in 2012, includes provisions for a review to begin by July 1, 2015, with a report to be received within six months.
The Act established the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), which has conducted, or has currently underway, inquiries into “remuneration-related conditions” of road transport drivers and industry sectors involving energy, ports, waste management, and security firms transporting cash.
Since its inception, Business SA has questioned the need for the Act and the effectiveness of the Tribunal, arguing that it duplicates the work of other regulators like the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), SafeWork Australia and state-based agencies dealing with Work Health Safety issues.
“There is no empirical evidence that safety on our roads, which we readily acknowledge is an important issue, is directly influenced by the level of remuneration received by drivers and road transport operators,” Business SA director of policy Rick Cairney told Business Insight.
“Business SA is concerned about the potential duplication of regulation and compliance in this area, and the resulting confusion and additional, and unnecessary, costs faced by small and medium enterprises,” he said.
“In addition, in our view the RSRT is delving into areas outside of its jurisdiction, such as independent contractors and employment issues that are subject to other federal legislation.
“The Federal Government’s review should evaluate if there is a real necessity to have such a Tribunal and whether or not it is acting within its jurisdiction.
“If there is a no real need, then the Tribunal should be scrapped.”
Cairney said the key to improving safety was to put more resources into education and compliance activity in the short term and, in the longer term, to change the culture in workplaces at both an organisational and personal level.
“Spot checks by SA Police and the transport authorities on the roadworthiness of vehicles, for example, have been a very effective measure in getting dangerous vehicles off the road,” he said.
“Creating an awareness of the importance of safety and backing it with skills training and resources is also central to changing the culture and achieving improved safety outcomes.”
The pending review of the Road Safety Remuneration Act is the second by the Coalition Government, which announced in late 2013 that it would conduct “an independent review that will assess the operation of the system and advise the Government on whether it represents an effective and appropriate means of addressing safety concerns in the road transport industry”.
“Through this process, the Government is seeking to urgently review the operation of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and assess the need for a further level of regulation,” the Government said in 2013.
The 2013 review was completed in March last year but its findings, and any resulting report, have not been released.
“So it’s important that the July review commence and be completed on time, and be publicly released without delay,” Cairney said.
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