By now parliament will have both convened and adjourned.  The extraordinary two-day session was one with few precedents and included all the ceremonial procedures usually reserved for the first parliamentary session after an election. 

At the time of writing I’m contemplating the prospect of the Senate’s Black Rod banging on the Reps doors to summon us to the Senate Chamber, it’s sure to feel like we are all in some sort of British situation comedy.

Proroguing the Parliament was opportunistic and very expensive for taxpayers.  Next week I’ll give my appraisal of events.

Debate over the Tribunal which was established to regulate freight charges for independent truckies has been deliberately politicised.   The Tribunal appears to have over-reached; some of the new rules seem silly.

But it’s no reason to over-react by abolishing the Tribunal.  Rather, the Government only needs to intervene to fix the unnecessary complexities.  There can be no doubt there is a link between competitive rates and road safety.  Drivers employed by the big companies are protected by workplace laws and work for no less than the award. Owner drivers are not.

Owner drivers often live in a dog-eat-dog world where they have to bid low to secure work for their truck.  Often they’re at the beck and call of head contractors. This can lead to drivers setting unrealistic travel times etc.  The Tribunal has ruled that charges can’t go below what it has deemed to be a safe rate.  If the rates apply to all owner drivers and company drivers are being paid at the award or better, then theoretically, no one should be disadvantaged; everyone should be on the same playing field.

But I’ve spoken with independent operators and there is no doubt there are problems that need to be fixed.  But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I certainly won’t vote to have no oversight.  We know the historic outcomes of a totally unregulated system and I’m not prepared to be partly responsible for the next fatality.

Next Monday is Anzac Day, the day we focus most on those who have served our nation in the uniform of the Navy, Army or Air Force.  I thank in advance all those RSL Sub Branch and Women’s Auxiliary Members who will ensure the success of the day.

Let us all pause to remember and thank in particular, those who gave their life or still carry the scars of war, whether physical or psychological. Lest we Forget!

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