Class Action for Owner-Drivers Affected by RSRT (10 May 2016)

Thousands of owner-drivers suffered major financial losses as a result of the orders of the Road 'Safety' Remuneration Tribunal. A class action to recover damages is being organized for owner-drivers.

  • Further details are below.
  • To become part of the action will need to fill out a questionnaire.
  • The questionnaire is available to members of Independent Contractors Australia.
  • Your information will be kept confidential and forwarded to the lawyers organizing the class action. They will contact you.

If you are are not an ICA member, you can join ICA for $55 here.

If/when you are an ICA member, you can complete the questionnaire here.

More information about the class action, May 2016

It's great that the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was abolished (19 April 2016, see below). But we are aware that thousands of owner-drivers suffered substantial financial losses over the last few months because of the RSRT. For many, these losses continue. We believe the overall losses would be in the tens of millions of dollars at least.

High Court

We, Independent Contractors Australia, began a High Court challenge to the RSRT (see below, 17 April). That challenge is now stopped, of course, but we are ready to go again if Bill Shorten seeks to reintroduce the RSRT if he wins the election this year. Bill Shorten has said he will do this (see immediately below).

Potential to recover losses: Class Action

There is a potential opportunity for you to recover a substantial portion of your losses that won't cost you anything or put you at further risk.

Lawyers have approached us saying that they believe they can run class action litigation to sue for recovery of losses. If you are interested, you can join this class action that would operate as follows, based on what the lawyers have told us:

  • The lawyers would run the case.
  • Litigant funders would pay all costs.
  • If you joined the action, you would receive an undertaking from the lawyers that there would be no costs to you, even if the action was not successful.
  • You would be able to withdraw from the action at any time if you wanted, at no risk to you.

Under these arrangements we are prepared to assist you to access the class action if you are interested. We think it only just that you have an opportunity to get back money for your losses.

Application process

Here are the arrangements if you were interested:

  • Any application to join the action needs to be made through ICA and is available only to ICA members. People who are not members can join ICA for $55 here.
  • You will need to fill out the application questionnaire here. This asks for basic information, including your assessment of your losses and whether you have evidence of your losses. You are not committed to anything by filling in this questionnaire. When you access the questionnaire you will need your ICA login details to enter. Confidentiality is assured.
  • The questionnaire will go to the lawyers who will contact you and follow up with you from there. They will explain everything.
  • If you decide to join the action, your arrangements will be directly with the lawyers.

Please note that Independent Contractors Australia is/will not be part of the action, is not running the action and will not receive any money if the action is successful. ICA is connecting you to this opportunity to recover losses as part of our service to our members.

'Dangerous idiots intent on destroying small business people' (29 April 2016)

We at ICA had thought that after the huge campaign against the ‘evil’ road ‘safety’ laws (see below), we could move on to other issues. But no! Labor leader Bill Shorten announced today his intention to bring back the repealed laws if he wins government at the next election.

As a consequence of this ‘idiocy’ on their part, we can only describe Shorten’s Labor and their Transport Workers Union partners as ‘dangerous idiots intent on destroying small business people’.

We have a message for Shorten’s Labor, the TWU and anyone else who supports such destructive laws. We are ready to take on the fight! We have a constitutional challenge prepared to go and other plans should Shorten/TWU try to bring back the laws.

The facts are that we had a preliminary hearing before the Chief Justice of Australia on the 15th April on our constitutional challenge to the laws. The Chief Justice referred our application to a next legal phase. With the repeal of the RSRT we have, of course, stopped our legal action. We have a fighting fund in place thanks to the impressive response we received to earlier appeals. We can start the action again at any time.

We will have much more to say on this soon. But owner-drivers who believe in their right to be in business for themselves should join us by adding a $55 membership to our defensive readiness.  Join here.

People who believe in freedom should join us. ‘Liberty’ as an idea is empty without economic freedom. In its most basic form that means the right to be in business for yourself. It’s a fundamental human right. Destroyers of liberty, destroyers of human rights, conduct destruction by stealth. This is the stealth of the anti-owner driver laws. It attacks one group but sets a template to attack all self-employed people.

And there’s 2 million of us in Australia.


'Evil' anti-owner driver laws formally dead (21 April 2016)

The deal is done!!

On 19 April 2016, the Road Safety Remuneration Repeal Act 2016 (Cth) received royal assent. This means that today, 21 April 2016, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will cease to operate or perform any functions. This is officially stated on the RSRT website.

The outcome is that owner-drivers across Australia can now safely get back to business, as we understand it. After months of anguish and real financial and emotional pain, owner-drivers can now breathe easily.

ICA has received large numbers of ‘thank you’ messages for our role in pushing for the repeal of the laws. But let’s be clear. This was a huge team effort. Thousands of owner-drivers and their supporters worked hard for repeal. Big thanks must go to the Turnbull government for moving to repeal. And a huge vote of thanks must also go to the independent Senators who supported repeal.

There’s a major message to small business people across Australia. We must be vigilant. We must work together. It’s been demonstrated that there are powerful institutions and political forces that seek to destroy us. They set things up by stealth, then pounce. It’s staggering that, in a democracy such as Australia, this should occur. It will occur again if we don’t work together.

Join us at ICA. Click here.

ICA has been fighting for 17 years for the rights of small business people to be in business and we will continue that fight. We are vigilant. We are planning additional moves.

Great news: RSR Tribunal legislation has been repealed (19 April 2016)

At around 9-40pm on Monday night the Senate voted to repeal the evil Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal laws.

Our huge thanks to the Turnbull Government and the independent Senators who voted to repeal.

Some 35,000 owner-drivers and their families across Australia owe you a great deal. In fact, all small businesses in Australia must be thankful. It’s scary to witness the extent to which Labor and the Greens, organised by unions, will go to destroy Australian small business people. And there’s 2 million of us!

Here’s how the Senators voted:

Turnbull Government:    Repeal
Senator Lazarus:            Repeal
Senator Xenophon:        Repeal
Senator Day:                   Repeal
Senator Leyonhjelm:      Repeal
Senator Lambie:             Repeal  
Senator Madigan:           Repeal
Senator Wang:                Repeal

Senator Muir:            Keep the evil laws  
Shorten Labor:          Keep the evil laws
DiNatale Greens:      Keep the evil laws

We believe the government also put a Bill to freeze the RSRT Order. ICA will check the actual situation and report with more iinformation.

Owner-Drivers Update: It's D-Day on two fronts
(18 April 2016)

Today the Turnbull government is moving a Bill to repeal the ‘evil’ Road ‘Safety’ Remuneration Act. But the TWU is again mocking the law, the courts, parliament and Australians. They hope to con the independent Senators into keeping the RSRT.

  • On Friday 15 April the TWU opposed our High Court application for an injunction to halt the laws because of the harm being done to owner-drivers. We supplied the evidence.
  • On Friday 1 April the TWU opposed a Federal Court application to halt the owner-driver destruction laws.
  • Yet, today, 18 April, it is asking the Tribunal to delay and change the destructive orders. The TWU is hoping to say to the independent Senators, “don’t repeal the evil laws, we’ll fix them!” The TWU are con artists.

The TWU is:

  • Disrespecting Australian tribunals and courts, including the High Court. It treats the legal process as its political plaything. It is now asking for the very thing that it opposed in the High Court. 

Our lawyers are going to the Tribunal hearing today. We are going to:

  • Press on the Tribunal our constitutional challenge to their RSR order.
  • Make clear our efforts to repeal the laws.
  • State that the TWU now admits to the severe harm being done by the laws.
  • Request the Tribunal to delay its order.

This move is necessary in case the Bill to repeal the Act fails. But we do want the laws repealed!

Today Senator Lazarus confirmed the heart-wrenching news of a suicide due to the evil RSRT laws. Our sincerest condolences go to the family. These laws MUST be repealed. We say to every owner-driver feeling the huge stress, ‘hang in there’. You’re not alone. 

The Small Business Minister, Kelly O’Dwyer, has established an urgent Financial Advice Hotline 1800 007 007 specifically for owner-drivers in trouble due to the RSRT. For support and information about suicide prevention, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.


Anti-owner driver laws update: Now to Parliament
(17 April 2016)

On Friday (15 April) ICA’s lawyers appeared before the High Court Chief Justice on our constitutional challenge to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Our application has been referred to the Federal Court. Unfortunately an injunction to immediately freeze the RSRT Order was not granted.

We were inundated with stories from owner-drivers on how the RSRT is harming them. We put these stories to the Court. Read them here. These stories bring home the real pain being inflicted on families across Australia.

Attention now turns to Parliament this week, starting on Monday 18 April. The Turnbull government is to put a Bill to repeal the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. This is critical to saving owner-drivers. You can do something practical to help repeal these evil laws.

Here’s detail on the Senate voting position:

  • 6-7 independent Senators are voting for repeal. This is enough for repeal to succeed. Ring/email to give them your support.
  • Senator Muir says retain the laws but wants more talk. Here’s his statement. Sorry, Senator Muir, you talk while these people go broke! Ring/email Senator Muir and let him know he is wrong.
  • The Greens and Labor want to keep the laws. Ring/email your local Green/Labor MP. Tell them they are wrong.

At this critical voting time your voice matters. Ring/email today, Monday and Tuesday. Personal contact from ordinary people has a big impact on how MPs think and vote.

Only one more Senator needed to repeal RSRT
(13 April 2016)

This morning the Turnbull government declared that it will repeal the small business, owner-driver destruction laws in this sitting of Parliament (starting 18 April next week). Senator Jackie Lambie has announced that she will support repeal. That’s five independents for repeal and just one more is needed. Below are the numbers based on public statements.

We’re hoping that Senators Muir and Wang will also support repeal. Ring their offices asking them to join the repeal.

Update, 14 April: We have since been advised by Senator Madigan's office that he intends to vote for repeal. Thank you Senator Madigan!

Update, late 14 April: Senator Muir says keep the laws, but have an inquiry. Yeh Ricky! Fiddle while owner drivers go broke!!!

Turnbull Government:    Repeal now
Senator Lazarus:            Repeal now
Senator Xenophon:        Repeal now
Senator Day:                   Repeal now
Senator Leyonhjelm:      Repeal now
Senator Lambie:             Repeal now
Senator Madigan:           Repeal now

Senator Wang:        Inclined to repeal

Senator Muir:             Keep the evil laws (let's have an inquiry) 
Shorten Labor:          Keep the evil laws
DiNatale Greens:       Keep the evil laws

Yesterday we filed our constitutional challenge to the Road Safety Remuneration laws in the High Court. We’re asking for an urgent injunction to freeze the laws. If Senators Muir or Wang don’t join to repeal the laws, attaining a High Court injunction will be essential to protect owner-drivers.

We would only withdraw our High Court action if the laws were repealed. But we want the unions, Labor and the Greens to be well aware. Whatever happens, if these evil laws or others like them targeting any other independent contractors are ever attempted again, we will move swiftly against them.

We have had huge community support for our High Court challenge from everyday Australians. The support has enabled us to establish a fighting fund. Join us in a new front to defend self-employed people.

  • Join ICA. Every $55 membership fee helps.

We stand ready with the resources, determination and guts to take action.

Constitutional challenge to anti-truckie laws launched (12 April 2016)

You’ll be aware of our campaign to stop the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

We can now advise that, as of 4.10pm today in Sydney, the High Court confirmed the filing of Independent Contractors Australia’s constitutional challenge to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal Act. ICA is asking the High Court to consider that the Commonwealth does not have the power to fix prices and therefore that the RSRT Act is invalid and that any orders of the Tribunal are consequently invalid.

ICA has at the same time asked for an urgent injunction against the Tribunal and its orders that would effectively freeze the Tribunal’s orders until such time as the constitutional questions have been answered. We are in the hands of the High Court in terms of the timing of an injunction decision. We hope it will be soon.

Last week we asked for your owner-driver stories. We have been inundated. We have not been able to reply or process the huge number. But our massive thanks. We worked with several people to turn their stories into affidavits which involves a lot of work for filing with the High Court. We will ring these people to thank them.

This is the first phase of a lot of work. We may need to use many more stories in affidavits.

Thanks also to the huge number of people who have joined ICA. Your money is going to the legal fees but we will need to raise a good deal more. Lawyers for High Court challenges are expensive.

We will keep sending updates.

PM Turnbull needs to stand up for Owner Drivers
(10 April 2016)

On 10 April, Malcolm Turnbull declared that he has a plan to save owner drivers.  He’s going to delay the Road ‘Safety’ Remuneration Tribunal order until after the election then repeal the law and the Tribunal. Prime Minister, you are wrong and clearly do not understand this crisis for 35,000 small business owner-drivers and their families.

Here are the facts:

  • Owner-drivers started losing their work some months ago. Companies say they won’t give them work because the Tribunal order might come in and the companies won’t take the risk.
  • If you delay the order, owner-drivers will still not get work and will go broke because companies won’t take the risk. People are falling into bankruptcy NOW.

PM, some of your political strategists might think its smart election politics to keep the issue burning. But you will be condemned because you are, in turn, condemning owner-drivers to bankruptcy.

Here’s the simple challenge, Mr Turnbull:

  • Declare that you will repeal the Tribunal in this sitting of Parliament (starting 18 April) if enough independent Senators support the repeal.

Here’s the simple challenge to the independent senators:

  • Declare that you will support the repeal.

PM, find out where things really stand. If the independents don’t support repeal, they will be condemned because they will be responsible for owner-driver bankruptcies.

Stand up, Prime Minister. Push the issue. Make a stand and genuinely fight to save small business people from bankruptcy.

ICA calls for owner-drivers' stories for its High Court application (9 April 2016)

We at ICA have been greatly encouraged by the support that's been pouring in to help us with our High Court campaign to stop the evil owner-driver destruction laws. We’re working all weekend with our lawyers preparing the High Court application for lodgement this coming Monday (11 April).

But to bring home the impact of this terrible Tribunal, we need stories from Owner Drivers about how it has affected them. And we need them urgently. The High Court judges need to understand the impact of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal on your business, your family and your life. They need to understand the crisis the RSRT has created for you. And that impact will be best conveyed by stories from Owner Drivers in their own words.

As our Executive Director put it in an urgent mass email today:

"We need your stories NOW.
Send me an email ken@independentcontractors.net.au with:
  • your name, address and phone and
  • explain your background in the transport sector and tell us
  • how the RSRT is hitting you. What’s the impact on your debt payments etc?
Keep it brief and clear. Up to one page will do. We’ll contact you for more details.

Contact your friends asking them to send us their stories.
We need heaps of stories by this Sunday night (10 April). We have to move double fast. But if you miss Sunday, keep sending stories to us."

ICA is very grateful for the money that has been coming in to pay for our legal bills. It’s building nicely but we need more. You know how expensive lawyers are! We are a volunteer organisation.

  • Join ICA. Every $55 membership fee helps.
  • Contact us if you are able to help with a larger amount.


Disaster for owner-drivers started yesterday. We seek to stop it (8 April 2016)

There’s now huge urgency. Yesterday, an application to freeze the owner-driver ‘destruction’ order of the Road ‘Safety’ Remuneration Tribunal failed in the Federal Court. The application to stop the order accepted the validity of the legislation but questioned the processes of the Tribunal. It failed.

As of yesterday, owner-drivers are now forced to charge 2 to 4 times more than they currently charge. Big companies do not have to charge the same rates. This is the financial destruction of thousands of small business owner-drivers across Australia.

We announced yesterday that we’re launching a High Court challenge to the constitutional validity of the legislation. There’s news coverage here and here.

Our lawyers are lodging the High Court application today. We’re saying that the law and the Tribunal itself are invalid because the Commonwealth doesn’t have the power to fix prices. If successful, this would ‘kill’ the Act, the Tribunal and its destructive order and save owner-drivers. We will be asking for an immediate freeze on the Tribunal order pending a High Court decision.

Thanks to all those people who joined us yesterday to help us pay our legal bills. But we need more. High Court challenges are expensive. We’re a volunteer organisation.

Join ICA here. Help us save owner-driver small business people. Every $55 membership fee helps.  


ICA launches High Court challenge to defend owner-drivers (6 April 2016)

You’ll be aware of our condemnation of the Road ‘Safety’ Remuneration Tribunal and our calls to repeal the Act (both articles below). The government says it will defer the Act until 1 January 2017. Now the National Party says that it will move to repeal the laws in the next sitting of Parliament (starts 18 April) and hope that Senator Glenn Lazarus will join them.

But we’re not waiting for political games. This is too urgent. The Act allows the Tribunal to fix prices under commercial contracts of owner-drivers. This is an attack against small business people but has much broader and massive implications for the entire economy. A key to a properly functioning market economy is that businesses are free to decide the price for which they sell their goods and services. Impose price controls and we destroy a market economy. It’s anti-competitive.

We’re launching a High Court challenge. We’re saying that the Commonwealth doesn’t have the power to fix prices. That is, the Act is unconstitutional. In 1973 the people of Australia voted against a referendum attempt to give the Commonwealth price-fixing powers. This academic article from 1975 gives the background to the referendum. It says that “…it is beyond the constitutional competence of the Commonwealth to control prices…”

We must defend owner-drivers from this ‘evil’ attack against them. We must defend our economy. This is expensive. We are a volunteer organization. We need your help to fund the legal case.

  • Join ICA. Every $55 membership fee helps.
  • Contact us if you are able to help with a larger amount.

Senator Glenn Lazarus moves to save owner-drivers from bankruptcy (3 April 2016)

On 30 March, ICA branded the Road ‘Safety’ Tribunal laws a ‘Stalinist evil’ (see below). We called for the laws to be repealed before thousands of owner-driver small business people are forced into bankruptcy.

On Sunday, 3 April, at a mass truckies’ rally in Brisbane, independent Senator Glenn Lazarus declared that he will move to repeal the laws. He said on social media:

“Brisbane is just a WALL of trucks at the moment! If the TRIBUNAL doesn't listen and put the order on hold for a year this week so we can work together to review it, I will be putting up legislation on the 18th of April when the Senate sits to ABOLISH the TRIBUNAL.”

Good on ya Glenn!

The Tribunal insists on forcing the new owner-driver ‘bankruptcy’ laws to start on 4 April. The Transport Workers Union gave a pathetic defence of the laws last week. Effectively, it supports the destruction of self-employed owner-drivers.

We support Glenn Lazarus and will do everything we can to help his efforts to repeal these ‘evil’ laws.

No, were not being extreme. These laws are evil!

We Oppose Owner-Driver Destruction law (30 March 2016) We say 'Repeal the laws'

Not one for mincing his words, ICA's Executive Director, Ken Phillips, had this to say in an urgent mass email sent out today:

"I know I keep criticizing government bodies for discriminating against self-employed, independent, small business people. But this one is the mother of all government-funded discrimination authorities. It’s a whopper. It’s a Stalinist-style Australian government body called the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power under the Act to dictate the prices of commercial contracts that long-haul and interstate owner-driver truckies must charge. This is price-fixing. It’s a direct attack against the fundamentals of how a modern economy works. It destroys market-based economic competition.

The law was introduced in 2012, but the Tribunal has only just made its first Stalinesque price-fixing declaration. By law, owner-drivers must now charge up to five times what they currently charge.

But here’s the real sinister sting: Big trucking companies with employed drivers are free from the same laws. They can charge current rates. So what’s going to happen? Bankruptcy for thousands of small business truckies! The big companies will move in and take over the market. No competition.

I’ve seen this sort of attack before (NSW workers’ compensations laws 2012), but nothing on this scale. Large numbers of small business people will lose their homes. Family break-ups will occur, as will suicides. I repeat. I’ve seen this before. This will hit rural Australia hard. It starts on 4 April."

There has already been some significant commentary on this deplorable situation, and it's steadily growing:

This is all part and parcel of a major theme that ICA has been covering about union–big employer collusion and corruption in Australia. Only this time it’s a government tribunal organizing the dirty deals.

In our view, there's only one solution. The Tribunal must be closed down. The Act must be repealed. This must occur before the wave of owner-driver small business bankruptcies starts to happen. Estimates are that 35,000 small business people are going to be directly affected.

We oppose TWU and bosses colluding

In a secret deal, the giant transport company Toll has been paying the Transport Workers Union $50,000 a year for the TWU to harass Toll's competitors. This anti-competitive collusive behaviour is exactly the sort of thing that is designed to screw over owner-drivers. Because of this we've lodged a formal objection to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission. We want to stop the TWU having collective bargaining rights with Toll. Here are the details.

Success for Unfair Contract Protections

We have fought for owner-drivers to have 'fair contracts'. The Federal government moved to do this late 2015. The laws start November 2016.

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