Voice of Indi owner-drivers heard in Parliament
Posted April 19, 2016
CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (20:11): Tonight I add my voice in support of the government on these two pieces of important legislation. I would particularly like to acknowledge the many members of my electorate who have spent hours working with my office, communicating with my office and making sure that I could come to this place and represent their views. I would like to say to Peter Ling, Simone and Scott Lewis, Jess Hinde, Anthony Glass, Geoff and Ann Prudames, Matthew Walker, Matthew and Nicole Battocchio, Kellie Boland, Leonie Jackson and all the other people who have written to my office: thank you.
I draw attention in particular to a letter I have received from Kevin Keenan, who is from the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association. Kevin caught up with me at the Northern Victorian Livestock Exchange in North Barnawartha and chewed my ear. Kevin, I heard you. As he said in his letter to me:
As an owner driver for over 35 years I find this very difficult to believe that a union who champion for the little fella against big business could possibly put me out of work or cut my work so I have to cut maintenance to survive.
The clause that states that there is no partial loading and any part load will be taken as a full load will be of great disadvantage to the rural sector. If farmers have to pay for a full load no matter how many they have on a load then they will use smaller trucks to do the job at a lower cost but put more trucks on the road.
Kevin, I am really happy tonight to support the government on this bit of legislation.
A second letter I would like to refer to is from Ken Beggs from Wangaratta. He wrote a very extensive letter, and he put the three options that he has been faced with. The first is that he continue to operate profitably, as he is currently doing, yet be in breach of the RSRT legislation. The second is that, alternatively, he sell up. This would mean selling equipment below the payout figures owing on them, and other carriers not affected by this order would readily take over the job at the same rates that he is working for. His third option is to employ an unrelated driver to drive the truck. He says:
If I did this, I would be compliant. I would not come under the RSRT Order, the driver would be paid the current wage I pay myself, (which is above the RSRT safe rates), continue with the contracts I have committed to and still make a profit.
However, he said: 'I personally would not have a job, therefore no wage to live on.' He went on:
Option No 3 sounds ludicrous. How is it that I can employ someone to drive my truck under the same conditions I currently operate at and be legal, yet if I drive the truck myself I am in breach of the RSRT Order and hence breaking the law?
How can this be fair and just?
He called me and he says: 'How can our democratic system allow such discrimination against a minor sector of a large industry?'
I say to the people of Indi, to the fantastic trucking industry and the small businesses that go with it, to the men and women who make our logistics service work, to those who pick up our agricultural goods and carry them, to those who pick up our manufacturing goods and carry them, and to those who pick up our retail goods and carry them right across the north-east of Victoria and then across this great and marvellous country: democracy is working. Your voices have been heard loudly and clearly in this place, and I am really pleased to add mine to support the government tonight on this legislation. I hope the Senate quickly does what needs to happen in the other house.
As I bring my comments to a close, I would particularly like to thank the many people of north-east Victoria who have worked so closely to bring about this really positive outcome. Thank you.