Crossbenchers poised to join Coalition to axe Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in Senate

The Federal Government appears to have the Senate numbers to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), as crossbenchers vow to vote for the changes.

The Coalition is pushing to axe the RSRT when Parliament resumes next week, following the independent body's attempt to introduce new pay rates for truck drivers.

Some crossbenchers have urged the Government to give it priority over its bid to get the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) Bill through the Upper House.

Employees who drive for big fleets are already covered under an award rate system, and the Transport Workers' Union said contractors needed the new rate to compete and stay safe on the roads.

But so-called owner truck drivers have argued the obligation to charge clients more would force thousands out of business.

"These are the mums and dads of Australia who are begging the Government, who are begging the crossbench, so they are not put in a situation where they are literally selling their trucks over the next few weeks," Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said earlier.

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has made it clear she will vote for the abolition of the tribunal.

"Before the ABCC legislation is voted on, I want this dealt with on Monday and so do the crossbenchers, so Michaelia Cash is in for a rude shock," Ms Lambie told AM.

"As long as she [Ms Cash] can get that message, that would be great.

"There would be myself and Nick Xenophon, John Madigan and, of course, Senator Lazarus.

"The only person that we're waiting on is an answer from Dio Wang."

'We want money spent on road safety'

Senator Jacqui Lambie told the ABC's RN Drive program if the RSRT was abolished she wanted the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator's (NHVR) role expanded and funding and some staff passed over to the body.

Just 24 hours ago, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Government may not have the numbers to abolish the tribunal.

The introduction of the new rates has already been delayed by a Federal Court injunction, with the Coalition planning to introduce legislation next week to delay it further.

Senator Wang told Sky News he was prepared to vote for the tribunal's abolition, provided the Government put the money saved into road safety.

"I'm inclined to support the abolition of the tribunal, but there is a secondary question that we need to also ask," he said.

"The Government indicated it would transfer the $4 million funding into the NHVR ... I want to be assured that will be spent on road safety."

Like Senator Lambie, independent Victorian Senator John Madigan also wants the RSRT bill to reach the Senate as soon as possible.

He said the Government needed a plan to ensure trucking industry concerns were not "swept under the rug" by abolishing the tribunal.

Senators David Leyonhelm and Bob Day have also confirmed they would vote in favour of the RSRT's abolition, leaving Senator Ricky Muir as the only crossbencher expected to vote against.

 

Source: ABC News

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