Western Australia’s owner-driver transport operators will be well placed to survive the challenges of rising fuel prices, with new laws that come into effect tomorrow.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Owner-Drivers (Contract and Disputes) Act 2007 ensures a fairer bargaining position for owner-drivers to stamp out unsafe practices that cause drivers to cut corners to make a living.
“This is about giving owner-drivers, a key part of our transport industry a fair go, and at the same time making our roads safer,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“Our new laws will provide for rates that provide a decent income, so that operators don’t take risks with driving hours to make ends meet.
“Owner-drivers in some other States are taking action, because rising fuel costs and interest rates have meant they are operating at a loss on the contract rates they are being paid.
“When rates and deadlines are unreasonable, owner drivers with big mortgages have little option but to cut corners, putting other road users as well as themselves in danger.”
The Minister said the Act:
· established a Road Freight Industry Council which would develop guideline rates and a mandatory code of conduct;
· empowered the council to mandate the payment of safe and sustainable rates;
· implied fair terms into unwritten contracts;
· ensured owner-drivers were paid within 30 days of submitting accounts; and
· established a new Road Freight Transport Industry Tribunal to resolve disputes and enforce the Act and the code of conduct.
The Road Freight Industry Council would consist of representatives from transport companies, Transport Forum, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Transport Workers Union and local government.
Ms MacTiernan said proclamation of the Act that passed through Parliament late last year had been delayed, because the Howard Government had refused to grant the Federal Independent Contractors Act to allow these laws to operate.
“Now that the Rudd Labor Government has granted that exemption, we have started work on developing the code of conduct and guideline rates,” she said.
“After discussion with operators and transport industry customers, we hope to have these in place by the end of this year.”
Minister's office - 9213 6400