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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3093

Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (13:31): I rise in my continuing opposition to the 64 amendments to the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011 that are currently before the House. In my electorate I have a number of transport operators and a number of quarries. The predominant transport operations through the middle of my electorate are truck-and-dog operations that will be affected by these amendments. In addition, the majority of my electorate would be perceived as a rural precinct, taking small produce to markets, helping the families and the mums and dads of Australia to keep fresh fruit and veggies and on the table. Every centimetre of the travel involved in getting that produce to market will be affected by these amendments and the legislation currently before the House.

The argument put up by the government with reference to this bill is that of road safety. However, none of the 64 amendments we are currently debating speak to or provide any evidence of a causal link between rates of pay and deaths on the road. In fact, an inquiry recently found that there was a decline—and members of the government have made this point in their presentations—in rates of death on the road; they are downward spiralling. In addition, with the magnificent work done by the government to increase road infrastructure, we should see further reductions in road deaths. The committee also received evidence that supported an increased focus on road improvements, infrastructure and enforcement of existing laws and regulations to achieve safety improvements. It was repeatedly put to the committee that other measures would be more valuable in terms of reducing accident rates. The coalition members supported that approach.

So it is drawing a long bow to come in and say that it is 'no, no, no, no' from the coalition. We do support measures that will reduce deaths on the roads, but we sincerely suggest that these amendments before us are not conducive to reaching those outcomes. One of the amendments, amendment (26), includes:

(ca) the participating hirer and the participating drivers have conducted themselves in accordance with any code of conduct prescribed under subsection 33(3);

So an unintended consequence of the amendments before the House is that if someone were to change their code of conduct that would be superfluous. It would be surplus to the codes of conduct already put in place by the peak bodies and industry groups. One of those is the National Road Freighters Association—which, by pure chance, is opposed to this measure. The association has put its concerns in writing in its submissions to the committee. The Australian Logistics Council, an enormous voice for the transport sector, is also opposed to it. They have their own codes of conduct. The Post Office Agents Association also saw no merit in the bill. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also has a code of conduct, which will be sought to be amended according to subsection 33(3) as a result of the aforementioned amendment. The Australian Trucking Association and the Australian Industry Group also have their own codes of conduct. And the National Road Transport Operators Association and Independent Contractors of Australia are opposed to it. All these people are opposed to it. The list just goes on; it is overwhelming.

If this government is fair dinkum about trying to save lives out on the highways of Australia it should show some evidence of a causal link between pay rates and deaths. If you are serious that that is a cause, do your part as a government by getting your hand out of the pockets of the transport industry—stop increasing their operating costs—and let them get on and make a living.