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NatRoad provides submission to NTC on safety in Transport Industry

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) recently provided the National Transport Commission with a comprehensive submission about safe people and practices in the heavy vehicle industry.

CEO of NatRoad Warren Clark said, ”One of the issues not given enough attention is the current industry practice where customers expect transport operators to accept substandard contracts.

“Consideration of safe practices within the road transport industry must confront the issue of unfair or oppressive contract conditions. NatRoad members are increasingly concerned that contract conditions in the industry are unfair and are adding to commercial pressures. These practices add to a culture that does not give safety the primary focus.

“In the submission lodged on 30 August 2019, we have given a number of examples of where the current law could be applied to assist members.

“Members have told NatRoad that the increasingly strict application of “time slot” requirements is having an adverse effect on their businesses. This is where a contract provision gives a very constrained window of opportunity for a driver to complete a delivery.  However, the usefulness of the current provision directed at controlling these kinds of practices up the chain has not yet been formally tested.

“We would welcome the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) or a State-based agency taking action against those parties who insist on allocating tight time-slots which have harsh contractual consequences when not met, like losing the right to be paid for the delivery. This step-up in enforcement would reveal that those who enforce the law are not concentrating solely on applying the law to operators, a matter that is a widespread perception within the industry.  Operators believe that they are targeted because it is easier for the authorities to take action against them.

“Whilst we deal with a range of issues in the submission, creating a more level playing field and improving contract terms and conditions must be seen as issues that need urgent attention.

“NatRoad policy to achieve these aims is for the federal Government to introduce a mandatory code for the industry under Part IVB of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) which would address harsh payment terms in transport industry contracts inclusive of a “pay when paid” prohibition.  If that recognition doesn’t occur then even more focus on COR prosecutions up the chain must be considered.

“The mindset of some customers must change so that safety and fairness are advanced.

“NatRoad looks forward to continuing to assist the NTC in this vital review,” Clark concluded.

Road submission: https://www.natroad.com.au/resources/natroad-submission-ntc-issues-paper-safe-people-and-practices