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Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2019

Sep 13, 2019 | Parliament

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (14:14): I rise to speak on the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2019. I am a proud professional driver—I may have mentioned this previously. I drove cabs, my dad drove cabs, my uncle was a London cab driver and my sons-in-law are both professional drivers. I support this bill because it will ensure owner-drivers and forestry contractors will no longer be so vulnerable to exploitation or forced into unsafe practices by economic pressures down the supply chain. The new rules will prevent unsafe driving by ensuring that these drivers and contractors do not have to work ridiculously long and dangerous hours simply to provide for their families.

The taxi industry has seen the effects of an international wage-stealing software app masquerading as a legitimate taxi company. We have seen what happened when this company and others like it kicked down the door of regulations. Because there are no minimum rates legislated in the taxi industry, Uber was able to undercut and decimate the taxi industry. All workers have a right to be protected by law from those breaking the law. As we have seen in the taxi industry, foreign rideshare companies compete for work, and a lack of regulation means undercutting is rife, and this system only rewards those who break the law. Operators have a right to be protected from the enduring pressure and exploitation that puts them and other road users at risk.

This bill will give more detailed cost and income information for owner-drivers and forestry contractors in the tendering and hiring process and show them a comparable hourly rate from which they can assess the real worth of their contract. This is precisely what we need, rather than allowing abuses to enter this industry before it is too late to stop them. I am concerned that Uber Freight is knocking at our door. It is yet another shiny app to match drivers and cargo, and if they use the same tactics as their commercial passenger services they will seek to undercut and exploit their owner-drivers to gain advantage. I believe that setting minimum rates is also an important step in the push to secure safe rates across the whole transport industry including the commercial passenger sector, but I will have more to say about that at a later stage.

Moreover, this bill will give owner-drivers and their families the fairness and income safety required to do their jobs. It puts the onus on hirers to pay fair rates that will ensure thousands of owner-drivers and forestry contract workers will receive a living wage. While I am in this place I will strive to ensure fairness in transport matters, no matter which industry they work in. I support this bill.

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