Committee on Transport and Infrastructure
Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 16:00 :41 ): I am happy to speak as Chair of the Committee on Transport and Infrastructure with regard to the report on our inquiry into workplace arrangements for the point to point transport industry, which was published in the House yesterday. In summary, the terms of reference required the committee to look into the operation and impact on the point to point transport industry of chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act. From the evidence we heard in the inquiry it seems the point to point transport market is still finding equilibrium. Customers are still changing their preferences between taxis, hire cars and rideshare providers such as Uber. These changes have largely been driven by technological disruption from ridesharing platforms.
Historically, the taxi industry has been heavily regulated not only in the sense of non-licensed carriers having been excluded or limited from competing against taxis and hire cars but also because of other anomalous industrial regulations which were allowed to intrude into the sector. Following the freeing of competition in the market after Parliament passed the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Act 2016, the inquiry investigated whether other reform is necessary to ensure competitive neutrality in this evolving market. The evidence before the committee disclosed, first, that the point to point transport market consists mainly of taxis, hire cars and rideshare transport sectors, the best known being Uber and GoCatch services.
Currently, chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act applies to the taxi and hire car sectors of the point to point transport industry but when the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Act 2016 will come fully into operation chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act will also apply to the rideshare sectors of the industry. Chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act and the determination made under it only has limited application. These provisions apply only to drivers who do not own their own vehicles. Seventy per cent of the hire car and almost 100 per cent of the rideshare sectors are unaffected by them. The determination is lawfully avoided by owners ensuring that they do not have the same driver work for more than 40 hours per week. These industrial provisions provide a perverse incentive for casual and not full-time work by drivers and there is no minimum income for drivers currently specified by chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act and the determination made under it.
The Federal legislation, the Independent Contractors Act, expressly does not apply to arrangements governed by chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act. A repeal of chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act insofar as it applies to the point to point transport industry would bring the New South Wales point to point industry under the provisions of the Federal Independent Contractors Act. Therefore, a repeal of chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act would not leave drivers unprotected but give them rights to challenge their contracts and the fairness of their arrangements in Federal courts. It is for this reason that the committee made recommendation 1, which is in the following terms:
The Committee recommends that the NSW Government gives consideration to amending section 307 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW) to remove contracts of bailment from Chapter 6 and thereby taking those contracts out of the jurisdiction of the Industrial Relations Commission.
It is the committee's opinion that this recommendation ought to be considered by the New South Wales Government in order to ensure competitive neutrality in the industry. The committee also looked into other workplace issues such as dispute resolution and driver fatigue, which resulted in recommendations 2 and 3 that I will not read. I thank the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, the Hon. Andrew Constance, for requesting that the committee examine the issues, which it did. We were given important work to do and I am grateful for his referral. I also thank my fellow committee members for their dedication and collegiality. It has been my pleasure to chair our meetings and to hear the contributions from my colleagues that resulted in our report. Finally, I thank the Legislative Assembly committee staff for the expertise and professionalism they applied to assisting the committee and me in our work.