TALKING TOUGH: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd was an early backer of the move to stop the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal decison to change truck driver's rates of pay. Photo Declan Cooley / The Observer
TALKING TOUGH: Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd was an early backer of the move to stop the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal decison to change truck driver's rates of pay. Photo Declan Cooley / The Observer Declan Cooley

A big win for truckie owner drivers

DISGRUNTLED owner truck drivers partied into the night after the Turnbull government scrapped the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

The tribunal had fought off an earlier attempt by the government to block its introduction of minimum wages for all truck drivers but at 9.45pm on Monday the legislation to abolish the tribunal passed 36 to 32.

Although Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd didn't join in the celebrations with truckies at the Rydges Hotel in Canberra, he did say he was happy to get a win.

"It feels good to have a win and it is heartening but it's a win for the people because they were desperate," Mr O'Dowd said.

"I knew a lot of our truck drivers were in financial trouble…some had already lost their trucks."

The decision to abolish the tribunal became an election issue last week and Mr O'Dowd.

The tribunal had hoped to introduce changes to minimum pay rates in an effort to improve safety conditions on the road.

This reasoning was refuted by many owner truck drivers who feared they would not be able to compete with bigger trucking operators on pay rates.  

In support of the Bill Ken O' Dowd had this to say in Parliament: "As the coalition government we are spending money on our roads. Roads are the workplace of these drivers. We have invested $50 billion in the Black Spot Program, bridge renewal programs and Bruce Highway improvements in Queensland, but here we are still looking at safety issues. They can be improved. There is no-one on this side of the House or that side of the House saying that they cannot be improved. They can be, but we have to work together on this. We cannot do it by flattening our small-time operators. They are not the problem. It is the system that is the problem. That is why the tribunal should be sacked-because it is not looking at the real issues. Our heavy vehicle drivers are professional drivers, and they are not at fault. The tribunal is at fault, and that is why we must abolish it."



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