ATA, Industry Issues, NatRoad

Closing Loopholes Bill Has Passed

Closing Loopholes Bill Has Passed

The Closing Loopholes Bill has passed both houses of Parliament, and is now officially set to become law.

The new legislation will give the Fair Work Commission (FWC) the power to set minimum standards for the transport industry in order to ensure safer and fairer contracts.

This will apply to business all across the supply chain, with industry bodies working with the federal government to ensure that the powers granted to the FWC are fair and relevant.

The passing of the Bill comes after a transport delegate – lead by the Transport Workers Union – spoke at Parliament House last week amongst a vigil held to honour the lives lost on the road in 2023.

However, the Australian Trucking Association says that continued work will need to be done to ensure the FWC works as best as possible for the industry.

“We were not able to achieve our goal of restricting the commission from setting minimum rates. That argument will now need to be put to the commission as it considers applications for orders,” chair David Smith says.

“But we were able to secure legislation that will work and that could deliver better contract terms for owner drivers and trucking businesses.

“The commission will be required to have regard to the need to avoid adverse impacts on the sustainability, performance and competitiveness of supply chains and the national economy.

“In looking at road transport contractual chain orders, it will also need to have regard to the commercial realities of the road transport industry, including commercial practices in relation to part load, mixed load, no load, multi-leg and return trips.

“The bill will require a 12 month notice of intent period for any proposed order. There will be failsafe mechanisms including internal merits review and new rights for the minister or another party to seek a review of an order if significant new facts or evidence come to light.

“Contractual chain orders are intended to ensure that all parties are covered. We cannot afford a situation where some businesses regulated by the commission lose work to businesses that are not.

“Importantly, we were able to ensure that the commission will not become another safety regulator. The commission will not be able to make orders covering matters comprehensively dealt with under the Heavy Vehicle National Law or other relevant laws.”

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark agrees, while adding that the Bill is the right way forward.

“There are questions about some late amendments to the Bill but on balance, it sets up our industry for a better future,” he says.

“It gives the FWC power to make binding orders about minimum standards-things like unfair contracts, charges, cost recovery, and levies.

“Any orders will only be able to be made with industry input and extensive consultation and lead time.

“Crucially, they must have regard for competition and our industry’s viability. The hard work starts now to make sure the new law operates as it was designed to.”

 

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