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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1577

Senator VIGOR(9.55) —The Australian Democrats will not be supporting the referral of the Interstate Road Transport Bill 1985 to the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. The Democrats have received a number of submissions from organisations representing truckies. I have here a telegram from the Federal Conference of the Federated Long Distance Transport Association of Australia, held in Victoria on 6 October 1985. The telegram reads:

At the Association's Federal Conference held in Victoria on 6th October 1985 the Executive and members fully endorsed the proposed Inter-State Road Transport Bill 1985. We believe the expedition of this Bill to be paramount to the well-being of operators within the road transport industry. Any delay to the passage of this Bill will only lead to a situation of confusion and unrest within the industry. We seek your support in this matter.

W. F. Brennan Secretary Federated Long Distance Transport Association of Australia.

We have also received a number of submissions from Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria concerning the expedition of this Bill.

Senator Vanstone —What does South Australia say?

Senator VIGOR —I attended in South Australia a meeting of some 200 people who had been totally misinformed by Barry Lewis about matters associated with the Bill. He had misinterpreted the Bill. In fact, a dodger was distributed in South Australia and I seek leave to incorporate this dodger in Hansard as an example of the type of information being put out on the Bill in my State.

Leave not granted.

Senator VIGOR —The dodger was distributed by the Professional Transport Drivers Association of South Australia and authorised by Barry Lewis. It makes the accusation that the Bill introduces a road tax. It is headed, in large letters, `Road Tax', and states:

The Federal Government has introduced legislation to impose a road transport tax. (It could be approximately 5 cents per kilometre!) The Federal Government intends to license your business.

The Federal Government will force you to fit a ``charge monitoring device'' on your truck and trailer to record the kilometres travelled.

If this ``monitoring device'' falls off your truck or trailer on rough roads and you keep operating you have committed an offence.

If you break the law the Federal Government has the power to expel you from the transport industry for life.

Please contact the Democrat and Liberal Senators URGENTLY.

The ``Interstate Road Transport Bill'' must be adjourned until the Interstate Commission reports to the Minister in April, 1986 so that further consideration and consultation with the industry is achieved.

Every paragraph of the dodger, apart from the very useful one asking the truckies to contact Democrat and Liberal senators, which in fact they have done, is filled with misunderstandings concerning the Bill. We have talked to those truckies and they have formed a seven-member committee, which met on Monday night. A spokesman for that committee talked with me and gave me a set of amendments that would be acceptable to the committee. I have taken those amendments to the Government and the Government has accepted them. I have since talked to Mr Barry Lewis, who wrote the dodger, and he has told me that he is happy with the proposals that have been put forward. I believe that this is a success for consensus within the industry and a success for the Democrats, who have been able to act as honest brokers in this business and to bring together all of the associations instead of simply sitting back, as the Opposition has done in this case, and saying: `Delay, delay, delay'.

The motion before us to refer the matter to a committee is yet another delaying tactic. I am disgusted with the proposal to delay. I was quite happy to look at delaying the Bill if all the perceived problems had not been resolved but in my mind and in the minds of my fellow Democrats all of the worries put forward by the independent truckies and the people from each of the State organisations who contacted us will be satisfied by the amendments that we will be moving in the Committee stage and that the Government says it accepts.

We need this legislation. I heard Senator Lewis talking about being scared on the highway. That has happened to me as well. We need the safety regulations and we need them quickly. We need a bat to make the State governments introduce their complementary legislation. We need a way of introducing order into an industry. Yet members of the Opposition are sitting back howling about the subject and trying to delay the legislation. People are being killed on the roads. That is what the issue is. We want to get this legislation through. I hope that we will manage to do so tonight and that nobody will hold it up. I am quite happy that we have effectively managed to satisfy all the many organisations and people who have rung my office-10 to 20 a day. I have taken notes and we have ticked off the things that they have asked us. I am happy about it. The Democrats will not support the referral to a committee because we believe that the referral is just another delaying tactic.