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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3084

Mr FLETCHER (Bradfield) (12:49): I rise to make an additional contribution on the merits or otherwise of the 64 amendments in relation to the Road Safety Remuneration Bill which have been put before the House at very short notice. I want to consider the amendments against the backdrop of the short title of the bill, being:

A Bill for an Act to make provision in relation to remuneration-related matters to improve safety in the road transport industry, and for related purposes

Against that backdrop I want to ask this question: why do the new provisions which are being put before the House for consideration this afternoon make very little reference to safety and do not even attempt to maintain the merest fiction that they have something to do with safety? Say we look, for example, at new clause 32A, which is proposed to be added to the bill. Clause32A(1) says 'the tribunal may approve a road transport collective agreement'. Clause 32A(2) says:

… In deciding whether to approve a road transport collective agreement, the Tribunal may have regard to whether the benefit of approving the agreement would outweigh the detriment to the public constituted by any lessening of competition …

I particularly direct your attention, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the fact that nowhere in clause 32A(2) does the word 'safety' appear. Nowhere in clause 32A(2) is any attempt made to frame the considerations which the tribunal must have regard to such that they are limited to safety or such that safety is defined to be the primary consideration which the tribunal must bring to bear as it weighs up the benefit it finds in the agreement against such detriment as it identifies. I think that is very significant because it demonstrates that in this set of amendments, particularly including proposed clause 32A, any pretence that this is about safety has been thrown out the window because of the enthusiasm with which this minister is rushing to urge the parliament to extend the reach and scope of the extensive industrial regulatory apparatus which this government has so enthusiastically expanded. It is interesting, too, to look at clause 36 in amendment (35) of the 64 amendments which have been put before the House at such short notice. It reads:

The participating hirer in relation to an approved road transport collective agreement must not provide remuneration or related conditions, to a contractor driver who is providing applicable services to the participating hirer, that are less beneficial than the remuneration or related conditions specified in the agreement.

Where is the language about safety? Where is the express direction to the tribunal to consider safety? Where is the restriction on the conduct of the participating hirer in relation to safety? It is not there. There is nothing about safety in that particular clause. That clause is a perfectly straightforward, stock-standard piece of industrial regulatory machinery dealing with remuneration and related matters. It again demonstrates that these amendments take this bill even further from its claimed objective, its claimed purpose and its claimed policy intention of dealing with road safety. It puts this bill squarely into the territory of expanding the reach of the industrial regulatory apparatus of this government and squarely into the territory of seeking to limit the freedom of individual businesses to contract, including in the truck-driving sector.