AUSTRALIA - New road safety renumeration orders set to impact on the livelihoods of the nation’s livestock transport operators have been opposed by the Cattle Council of Australia.
The new orders are set to take effect from Monday 4 April, with commercial transport rates increasing by up to 350 per cent and potentially putting most long distance owner-drivers out of work.
Issued by the Road Safety Renumeration Tribunal, the 2016 Order applies to contractor drivers, with payments reflecting a combination of hourly and kilometre rates.
But, the Cattle Council says industry has been left hanging as the order does not appear to consider how payments should apply to mixed or part loads, or round trips where the truck may travel empty.
Small owner-operators fear backloads and part loads will become cost prohibitive, with farmers using truck driving to supplement their income no longer able to source work.
Cattle Council of Australia chief executive officer Jed Matz said the orders would have significant and immediate impacts on the bottom line of rural transport operators and cattle producers.
Mr Matz said the rural transport system was complex, with owner-drivers being prime contractors one day and sub-contractors the next.
He said a single return trip could involve multiple customers and destinations, mixed loads, part loads, or side work fitting in with the primary task.
“The orders will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of a transport system integral to the cattle industry from the point of view of movement between properties, saleyards, feedlots and abattoirs around Australia,’’ he said.
Cattle Council has put its full weight behind the National Farmers Federation call for quick action by the Coalition Government to protect thousands of rural businesses from financial ruin.
According to the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, the orders override all contracts with non-compliance subject to significant penalties.
Backloads at rates below the specified minimums will no longer be permissible, meaning that either a full rate load is carried on the return trip or the truck must return empty.
The NFF has backed the findings of two reports recommending the Road Safety Renumeration Tribunal be abolished, and has applied to delay implementation until 2017.
NFF president Brent Finlay said the new rules meant many smaller family owned businesses would become uncompetitive.
TheCattleSite News Desk