Labor to compromise over truck drivers’ pay



Labor is willing to compromise over the federal government’s bid to oppose a pay hike for truck drivers, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which had set new minimum pay rates for heavy vehicle drivers.

The promise — contingent on the Coalition being re-elected — has been welcomed by some owner-operator businesses who believe the new rates would force them off the road.

Labor defends truckies’ tribunal
• Truckie safety rates: no delay
• Paying truckies more won’t lead to safer roads: Cash

But, Mr Shorten said the tribunal’s actions were focussed on safety and he was pushing for the independent body to remain in place.

He said the links between poor pay and pressure on drivers to do increased hours had been proven, but his party was willing to work with the government on how the changes were implemented.

“Labor is certainly up for sensible compromise about the pace of which the new minimum conditions are rolled out,” he said.

“Some of the parties to the tribunal hearing have suggested a longer implementation time. I think there some sensible food for thought in that proposal.”

He said the country could not afford to “wind back the clock and start all over again”, but was willing to negotiate on the implantation of the new order.

Coalition confident of quashing increased rates

The introduction of the new rates has already been delayed by a High Court injunction and the Coalition is attempting to delay it further with legislation to be tabled next week.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said while Labor was opposing the bill, his party had enough support to pass this initial legislation.

Mr Morrison said it was only practical to delay the introduction of the increased pay rates while gathering support for abolishing the tribunal altogether.

“That can be put back to a time in January,” he said.

“And in the meantime, we can go into an election and we can say ‘we want to get rid of this and we’re seeking the support of the Australian people to get rid of this’.”

The government is also proposing redirecting the tribunals $4 million in annual funding to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.


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