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The Tyranny of a Tribunal: Owner-Drivers Screwed Over

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Not one for mincing his words, ICA's Executive Director, Ken Phillips, had this to say in an urgent mass email sent out today:

"I know I keep criticizing government bodies for discriminating against self-employed, independent, small business people. But this one is the mother of all government-funded discrimination authorities. It’s a whopper. It’s a Stalinist-style Australian government body called the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power under the Act to dictate the prices of commercial contracts that long-haul and interstate owner-driver truckies must charge. This is price-fixing. It’s a direct attack against the fundamentals of how a modern economy works. It destroys market-based economic competition.

The law was introduced in 2012, but the Tribunal has only just made its first Stalinesque price-fixing declaration. By law, owner-drivers must now charge up to five times what they currently charge.

But here’s the real sinister sting: Big trucking companies with employed drivers are free from the same laws. They can charge current rates. So what’s going to happen? Bankruptcy for thousands of small business truckies! The big companies will move in and take over the market. No competition.

I’ve seen this sort of attack before (NSW workers’ compensations laws 2012), but nothing on this scale. Large numbers of small business people will lose their homes. Family break-ups will occur, as will suicides. I repeat. I’ve seen this before. This will hit rural Australia hard. It starts on 4 April."
There has already been some significant commentary on this deplorable situation, and it's steadily growing:
This is all part and parcel of a major theme that ICA has been covering about union–big employer collusion and corruption in Australia. Only this time it’s a government tribunal organizing the dirty deals.

In our view, there's only one solution. The Tribunal must be closed down. The Act must be repealed. This must occur before the wave of owner-driver small business bankruptcies starts to happen. Estimates are that 35,000 small business people are going to be directly affected.


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