The RSRT tribunal has failed the vicarious liability test but is protected from any repercussions, warns COSBOA.
The Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) today expressed comprehensive support for the findings of the inquiry by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Ms Kate Carnell, which examined the effect on Australian small businesses of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016, commonly referred to as the RSRT.
CEO of COSBOA Mr Peter Strong says the Association and its members are also concerned that a tribunal of well-paid commissioners, such as the RSRT, could get things so wrong.
“A legal system that is funded by government and aims to improve safety on our roads must not fail. Yet this tribunal has helped destroy small transport businesses run by honest professionals and has created a toxic environment with dire mental health outcomes for self-employed individuals and families. There has been no improvement in road safety, and in fact, it may be argued the opposite has occurred,” says Strong.
COSBOA notes a process called “vicarious liability,” where an employer can be held criminally responsible for an unsafe workplace, which includes where mental health is negatively affected. The RSRT tribunal has failed the vicarious liability test but is protected from any repercussions. COSBOA calls on the Australian Human Rights Commission to use its powers to investigate the behaviour of tribunal commissioners and the parties involved in the process because tribunals cannot be above the law.
Strong says, “There are individuals and families suffering the consequences of poor behaviour and carelessness from lack of due diligence. The process that was the RSRT must never be revisited. If nothing else, the RSRT showed that road safety will improve with industry involvement, not by regulating payments.”
“This inquiry also shows the worth of the ASBFEO, without whom this failed process would be hidden from the public eye. This failure of legislation and regulation should be front page news,” concludes Strong.