Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of doorstop interview: Western Australia: 13 April 2016: Kewdale Truckstop; Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, China visit, Chinese steel in the Australian market, 60 minutes crew



Download PDFDownload PDF

PRIME MINISTER

THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP

TRANSCRIPT

13 April 2016

Kewdale Truckstop Doorstop Western Australia

E&OE…

PRIME MINISTER: Well as you can see we are here today with these owner drivers and their families to support them and what we are going to do, next week, we will introduce a bill to abolish the RSRT - to abolish it. We will also introduce a bill to stay the order, the order that has affected these family businesses and thousands of others like them - that’s putting them out of business.

Now, if the bill to abolish it is not passed by the Senate and we don’t know whether we have the numbers to do that but we believe the numbers are moving in the Senate. There is change. The pressure on the crossbench is increasing as they see the shocking impact of this Tribunal. If we can abolish it we will - we will, we will do it next week. If we can’t, we will stay this order and we have, we are very confident that we have the numbers to do that.

Our commitment is to these families. We want to abolish the Tribunal but above all we want to make sure the shocking impact on their businesses which is putting them out of business is lifted. So that is our commitment to these family businesses - these owner driver businesses.

What we have seen right across the country is thousands of people outraged at the way in which this Tribunal that was set up by Bill Shorten in Julia Gillard's time. Set up by Shorten as a part of a deal with the Transport Workers Union. We've had former officials of the Transport Workers Union admitting that was how it was all done. It was designed - the purpose of this was to disadvantage these businesses, these owner driver business - for the benefit of the TWU.

Now, let me say - our future, our economy, our prosperity - depends on small and medium businesses. It depends on family businesses investing, taking a risk, mortgaging their home, buying a truck, investing, employing - that is what drives this country forward. And what Labor has done here is try to put them out of business for the benefit of the big union. We're not going to stand for it. We're standing with these solid family businesses - defending them, defending their future, defending our future security, our economic prosperity as a nation, because it depends on them.

Now Michaelia, do you want to say a bit more?

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT:

Thank you, Prime Minister. It's fantastic to be here at Kewdale in Perth with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Transport, Darren Chester, the Federal Member for Forrest, Nola Marino but more than that, with the mums and dad whose have given up their time today, many left at 4am this morning to come and join us, owner drivers, because this issue is so important to them.

The Turnbull Government, we are united with the mums and dads of Australia, we will not stand by and watch this deal done between Bill Shorten and the TWU destroy your livelihoods.

As the Prime Minister said, we will move next week to abolish the Tribunal. In the event that Labor does not want to support us on that, and sides with the TWU, we will move to stay the order to ensure that the people standing here today do not go under.

We are committed to small business in Australia, we committed to owner drivers and we will do everything that we can within our power to ensure they're on our roads, safe, but also ensuring that their businesses are not compromised. Thanks, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:

Barnaby?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much, Prime Minister. To Michaela, to Nola, to Darren - and just like Michaela said, most importantly to the mums and dads who are represented here by their partners, by their husbands, by their boyfriends - this is really about us going into bat for you.

And behind us here, we have a number of rigs, I think they’re all predominantly Kenworth’s. There is one over there - it’s a Kenworth T 909 - it's about 650 horsepower. What's also important about it is they cost a lot of money. Cost a lot of money to run. And every month, I imagine, or every six months the lease payment will turn up. And the bank doesn't care - they just want their money. They want their money. And the only way they'll get their money is if that rig is on the road and moving.

And the guy driving it, he's spending a lot of time away from his wife, away from his kids. He needs to do that to the make the payment. What’s happened - with this arbitrary piece of legislation - that was brought in by the Labor, the Greens and the Independents - very important - brought in by Labor, the Greens and the Independents - it's putting that man out of a job. So he can't make the lease payment. And then the wife at home starts to fret, understandably because she says "How are we going to make this payment? What happens next in our life?" And this is completely unfair. These people work hard enough as it is. They don't need the added grief and this grief is because, ultimately, the legislation is stacked so only a certain group can use it. And unsurprisingly, it helps the unions out and good luck to the unions and God bless them but why put these other people out of a job? Why put these other people out of a job?

So what we're going to do is make sure we get them back on the road and operating. Make sure we get them back on the road so people are getting them out to pick up a load of cattle, pick up a load of sheep, pick up some grain, even you think your furniture truck removalists - everybody has unfortunately got the fingers on the sticky paper on this thing.

What I'm calling on is for the Australian people to clearly understand this - we can fix this, if we were the President, if we were a dictator, we could fix this automatically but we can't because we've got a

Senate and we have to rely on the combinations and permutations of confusion about who's going to vote for what. But we're going to give it our very best endeavours to make sure this goes through.

So I call on Senator Nick Xenophon - come on, mate, fair go. We've got to get this passed and cleared.

And I call on the Greens - don't duck for cover on this. Don't have these people in the predicament that you put them in.

And I call on the Labor Party - if you're fair dinkum, and you always tell us you're fair dinkum - for goodness' sake, fix this problem that you, the Greens and the Independents created.

PRIME MINISTER:

Very good.

MARK TALBOT (WEDDERVURN TRANSPORT):

Thank you. Firstly thank you Prime Minister and Members of the Government for coming here today to listen to us and to try and help us sort this problem out.

I had a call yesterday from Nola Marino, can I get a few trucks together and a few guys to come up and to have a meeting in Perth. A handful of phone calls and suddenly I’ve got a crew of trucks behind me. I’ve got a great cross section of our industry here. They all came, dropped what they were doing to be here today because that is how important it is to the transport industry. Not just for ourselves but for the whole industry.

We see here today a very good cross section and as the Prime Minister has already said we have mums and dad’s and they’re the people that are getting hurt the most. Young families having a go at a business in the transport industry as an operator. We employ them, try to give them a chance to build a business and now it’s going to get harder for us to use those people.

So it’s a bit of a setback really for young people having a go. The next thing is obviously the uncertainty this tribunal has put upon us. We stand here today, not sure what we can and can’t do in the coming weeks. So it’s a major issue and being rural based transporters we work very closely with our clients and at the moment we have been putting in a position where we can’t do what we normally do so we need to get this stamped out so, like the other people have just said. Mr Shorten, the Independents, everyone else, please help us to sort this problem out and get us back doing what we do the best and that’s transport, not just livestock and what we do but goods and services around this country and do it the way we do it. And we do it already very safely, so thank you very much.

JOURNALIST:

How does it actually affect the way you do things?

MARK TALBOT:

Ok, well at the moment I run a small business with a handful of trucks. I employ drivers but also drive a truck myself. At the moment I have the uncertainty of when I drive the truck I am under a different set of rules to when I put one of my drivers in the trucks. So first and foremost that’s one of the things that concerns me.

I also, we can’t understand this order, I’m not, we’ve all talked about it, we’ve looked at it, it’s that confusing that we don’t know whether we’re coming or going with it so that’s the sort of problem we’re facing going forward on a day to day basis.

JOURNALIST:

So it will affect the hours you can drive?

MARK TALBOT:

No, it’s got nothing to do with any of that at the moment. We are concerned that down the track this tribunal, if it does get hold of things, it could start coming into our fatigue management systems which we already have in place. We’re already a very regulated industry and I believe that we’re very good at what we do. We operate safely. Safety is paramount with us and to put safety in the word as they’re using it - or into this phrase - to me is wrong, it’s not about safety. We already do what we do safely.

JOURNALIST:

So what other conditions [inaudible]?

MARK TALBOT:

That my driver would have that I wouldn’t? Ok, under the order as we understand it, if we, if I put one of my drivers in my truck, we operate normally as it is. But the minute I drive it as the owner of the business or a family member drives one of the trucks in the family business they come under the order so therefore they have to operate under those conditions.

So suddenly we’ve got set rates that we have to abide by and so forth so it makes it harder especially in what we do in rural Australia, where we do lots of small jobs for our customers and clients, we work closely with them, suddenly we are now bound by that table of rates, which is still quite confusing for us to try to work out as it is now, but it doesn't allow to us do what we do as we are today.

JOURNALIST:

Just for an example, like a set rate, what do you mean by that?

MARK TALBOT:

Well, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, in the order, there is a table of rates. They've put it in there. It has kilometre rates, hourly rates which we must pay the minimum of. We can't do any less. So if we do a small job, suddenly we could be caught out and fined if we don't charge that rate. Or we're seen to charge under that rate.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:

Could I help you out there? I will give you an example. I will give you a classic example.

This might be even a furniture truck, OK?

Let's say one of these gentleman pick up a load of cattle for me. I say - I want you to run them across to Bourke in western New South Wales. And they say - OK, what are we picking up? I will say - run a B-double across.

How many would we get into a B-double?

MARK TALBOT:

60?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:

60? About 60 per head. They will say here's the rate, the rate for that is - I will make it up here, 4,000 bucks.

Ok, and then I will say - well the truck is over in Bourke, not in Western Australia so I’ve got to get back to Western Australia. So I say - if I pick up a small load, anything - a rats and mice load - I can at least pay for my fuel to get my rig back home.

But you can’t do that anymore. A person - if they pick up a load in Bourke - they’ve got to charge that farmer full tote odds which is about 4,000 bucks to get a couple of bulls back. So we said no, we can’t afford to do it at that price, and if they do it at that price they get fined. And I think you will find that even the farmer gets fined, and people will say this just means we are out of work, we are stuck.

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT:

We have got one more example if you would like to see.

MARK SULLIVAN (KUNDANA TRANSPORT):

I am a rural carrier in a country town called Kundana, we operate a small business, we also operate two sub-contractors. Most of our freight comes from Perth to the Kundana area, with this new order, I actually cant employ the subcontractor, so that means my job is not going to get done, because I have got farmers who rely on me to do their freight.

The second thing is, I’m in the same position as Mr Talbot. I am the owner of the business, so I have got a separate set of rules to the driver. The other issue is the part loading and the back loading and all of that stuff. We are uncertain about how that’s going to work. And the other issue is, what happens to my business if I go down, all those little rural businesses that live off it, IGA, the tyre fitter, the fuel guy. I buy all my supplies from my local area, so here we have, if my business goes down, okay there may be someone to come in and take its place, but they will buy their supplies from another area, they won’t support their local business, and that is what we are about.

Small business is about supporting their own business in their own town. I ask, we just ask for a sensible outcome on this issue. And the sensible outcome is, stay the order, and think about where you want to go next. Thank you very much

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, are there any other questions on RSRT?

JOURNALIST:

I just wanted to know, is the move to abolish the tribunal just an effort to catch Labor out?

PRIME MINISTER:

The move to abolish the tribunal is because it is our policy to abolish the tribunal. We don’t know whether there are the numbers in the Senate to abolish it. Okay. So, we will be proposing abolition next week, but, we can’t be certain that it will be passed. Clearly the way for it to be certain is for the Labor Party to support then it will sail through. So really the question we talk a lot about, the Crossbench, the question had to be for the Labor Party. They made the mistake initially in introducing it. So they can work with us to remove it.

Now because we want to make sure this order is stayed, what we will also be doing is moving a bill to defer, to stay the order and we are very confident that we have the numbers from the Crossbench to succeed in that. So the goal next week is to abolish the tribunal, these bills will be dealt with after the ABCC and Registered Organisations bills are dealt with. Which as Michaelia described on AM this morning, of course that’s why the parliament is coming back earlier. The aim is to get abolition if we can, at least stay the order and we will deal with abolition after the election

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I am looking forward to a continued, very constructive discussions with the, my Chinese counterparts and they will cover the full range of issues.

JOURNALIST:

Including the South China Sea?

PRIME MINISTER:

They will cover the full range of issues as they always have.

JOURNALIST:

And the cheap Chinese steel in the Australian market?

PRIME MINISTER:

They will cover the full range of issues that we’ve always dealt with. I’ve had very, the Chinese Leadership, Chinese leaders, Premier Li, President Xi, know that I have very clear and consistent views on all of these issues and that we say the same thing privately as we do publically.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what is the Government doing to secure the release of the 60 minutes crew in Lebanon?

PRIME MINISTER:

As you know, Julie Bishop, our Foreign Minister, another great West Australian, has been speaking with the Lebanese Foreign Minister. As you know they’ve, they are going through a legal process at the moment. They have been questioned by the judge, in Lebanon. They are receiving all the full consular support from our diplomats and consular officials in Beirut. So we are providing them with every support. But of course, we respect the Lebanese legal system and their right to investigate and take proceedings if they feel offences have been committed, but we support Australians who find themselves in these difficulties, in these circumstances, right around the world, and of course we are doing that with respect to the 60 minutes crew.

Thank you.

ENDS