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Labor to reintroduce independent truckies destruction law. We oppose

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

We’re really worried about one aspect of a Shorten Labor government.

Bill Shorten plans to bring back trucking laws that will destroy the businesses of around 50,000 independent truck drivers across Australia. If they can attack the legitimate small businesses of one group of self-employed people, we have to ask, where will Labor stop?

Our use of the words ‘destroy businesses’ is not extreme. Under the now-repealed Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), independent truck drivers’ businesses were wiped out. Several confirmed suicides occurred.

In 2012 then Minister Bill Shorten created the laws. Here’s his speech introducing the Bill and his speech when the laws started.

In 2015-16 the laws forced self-employed truck drivers to charge rates much higher than big trucking companies who used employees. This made independent truck drivers uncompetitive, forcing many of them out of business. The laws were arguably designed to give monopoly advantage to big companies doing deals with unions. Here’s a full background.

We fought to defend self-employed truck drivers. We launched a High Court constitutional challenge to the laws. In the court hearing (15 April 2016) the Chief Justice of Australia said that we had an ‘arguable case’. Fortunately the Coalition government repealed the laws (18 April 2016) putting an end to this small business destruction.

In November 2018 the Labor Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, Senator Sterle, confirmed that, if elected, Labor will reintroduce the laws. This updates what Bill Shorten said in 2016—namely, that he would bring back the laws.

We strongly oppose this. If it occurs, we will be forced to reignite our campaign against the laws and re-mount a constitutional challenge. We have informed Labor of this.

Labor and the unions have got to understand that in a free society people have a right to be in business for themselves. Underhanded attempts to crush that right, to damage competition and artificially favour big monopolistic businesses must be opposed.

Election comment authorised by Ken Phillips, Melbourne.

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