Industry's enemy

Release date: 1/10/2016

Drivers being paid for all the work they do will never happen while the current anomaly of low freight rates exists, writes The Interstater

The Interstater, Owner Driver

Trucking has a new enemy in the form of the so-called Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) run by the very dangerous Kate Carnell.

Incredibly, she seems to prefer the notion that legislating rates of pay is not the way to go to ensure greater safety within the trucking industry.

She says in a report about the failed Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) that some of the major safety concerns raised by the industry during consultation were nothing to do with remuneration. Well, if that’s the case, she must now more about our industry than we do.

Clearly she has listened to the industry associations that pushed hard to prevent their little shindig from collapsing. The associations used their Liberal Party connections to scrub away all the input from the point of view of anyone not an employer.

The intelligent owner-drivers never got to have their viewpoint explored or explained. They were, as usual, too busy out there trying to make ends meet, tyring to earn enough to keep the wheels turning, while those that were in a position to nullify the facts and distort the truth were readily available to blindside the opposition.

They knew only too well that the RSRT was the first and last change to increases rates into the future, regardless of the short-term damage that it may or may not have evoked.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that no one should need to spell out exactly how rates affect safety, but unfortunately it seems that is the case. You see, Ms Carnell, if you have a B-double, for example, and you are getting $3,200 to go from Melbourne to Brisbane, and it takes form Monday morning until Wednesday afternoon to get it delivered, and once all the costs are equated you have made as little as $100 for that load, you are not going to be able to keep the maintenance up with your vehicle.

If that continues to be the trend over the whole month, then you are not only in a lot of financial trouble, you will soon be out of business.

If you are the company driver in that truck and started work Monday morning, and couldn’t get loaded out of Brisbane back to Melbourne until Friday, then you will be inclined to do more kilometres the following week to make up for the downtime.

However, if you have been paid for all the time you were gainfully employed to do all that was involved in the cartage of that freight, then the grand total would put you in a position where safety would be much easier to factor into your working life.

Drivers being paid for all they do has never been meet, and never will be while the anomaly of low freight rates exist as they do currently.


Being paid per tonne, per load, is the root cause of the situation. Having three equivalent loads done by either the same company or three separate companies doing the same run on the same antiquated tonnage rates cannot be the way forward, when each and every load has such greatly differing time restraints.

What the ASBFEO and all the employer associations like the Australian Trucking Association, NatRoad, the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) and state-based associations need to be pushing for is a new way of pricing and valuing the task that trucking does.

The only way to do that is to switch to an hourly-based system. The only way to impact the financial security of trucking into the future is through hourly charging.

The flow-on effect of being able to also pay drivers hourly for all that they do will increase safety levels to never-before-seen levels.

It will achieve the one thing that has been identified as a key ingredient to ensure the long-term viability of the industry, whereby a new mandatory industry code of conduct can be implemented.

To ensure rates are equated as an hourly cost will increase ownerdrivers' importance and viability as a cost-effective alternative to the larger freight companies.

As we all know, the higher percentage of owner-drivers are more motivated, and arguably more experienced and skilled, so their time management efficiency is in line with hirers' expectations.


The only way to assist trucking companies to make the better fatigue alternatives to have local drivers rather than interstate drivers doing deliveries is to cement the issue of cost into the financial equation.

A local driver on normal time is half the cost of an interstate driver on double time. Pretty simple maths, really. But Kate Carnell won't do anything about this endemic problem trucking is living because her little organisation isn't about trucking, or safety, or freight transportation.

It's about being seen to be doing something to justify the existence of the ASBFEO. We have seen that on Q&A, and we have seen it all through her long career path.

Government bodies are an aspirin, but 10 times slower than the industry they pretend to cater for. It's like the demise of the RSRT. What has it been replaced with? Who are these so-called industry experts that they are consulting with? Gordo? Really?


For those that don't know who Gordon Mackinlay is, he's the industry legend that almost singlehandedly ended the RSRT. Ole mate Gordo has only been in the industry a few short years, but was front and centre in firing up the troops to convoy to Canberra at the bequest of the Liberal Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash.

Talk about being conned and setting the rest of the industry on fire. The National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) held their annual general meeting in Townsville recently, and much to the dismay of many in the trucking game that knew Noel Porter, the NRFA saw fit to bestow Gordo with the Noel Porter Memorial Award.

For those who didn't know Noel Porter, he was a mountain of a man and as old-school as they come.

He never took a backward step and fought his whole life to better the trucking industry and was always at the forefront of trying to better freight rates industry wide.

Noel suffered fools lightly, and would have been more likely to have blocked the road leading to Canberra rather than siding with only looking to firm up its favour with big business and use the likes of Gordo to achieve that.

It all only goes further to show how out of touch all of these inconsequential associations are in the broader scheme of things.

They are full of their own importance and have no concern about rationale or logics. They go off in 360 different directions, and not one of them can see the collateral damage they do along the way.

In the perfect world, they would all have contusions from having their heads slapped together.

You only have to read about NatRoad demanding an exemption from the NSW General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD), citing that NatRoad members shouldn't be hindered by its rulings at all.

Instead of trying to bypass the GCCD, it should be using the powers of the GCCD to help its members gain better freight rates and eliminate shady competition.

It should be demanding that every one of NatRoad's members start paying all their drivers the full federal award.

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