Senators agree to axe truckies’ tribunal

The federal government appears to have the numbers to abolish a road safety watchdog when parliament resumes next week.


Crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus, Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm and Nick Xenophon all support axing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, after it set new minimum pay rates which owner-drivers fear will drive them out of business.

Palmer United Party senator Dio Wang and independent John Madigan have now both indicated they are also willing to vote in favour of its abolition, provided funding is re-directed to road safety programs.

The government initially pledged to axe the tribunal after the election, but will now introduce legislation when parliament is recalled next Monday.

It plans on re-directing the $4 million in funding to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

“I want to be assured that the $4 million will be spent on road safety,” Senator Wang told Sky News.

Senator Madigan says he wants to see that the government has a road-map in place to deal with road safety issues.

“That’s what I’m working on at the present time, to put forward a plan that takes on board all people’s concerns so that they’re dealt with and not swept under the carpet,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.

The coalition will also move to freeze the new pay rates, set by the tribunal, until 2017.

Acting prime minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed support from crossbenchers.

“That’s precisely what we want,” he told ABC radio.

“We should have absolutely no problem getting this through as quickly as possible.”

* The government has set up a temporary hotline through the Social Services Department to provide financial advice for owner-drivers 1800 007 007.