Our article earlier this year highlighted the potential for businesses to be caught by the widening of responsibility for “safety and fairness” and remuneration in the Australian road transport industry as a result of the creation of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (“RSRT”).

The RSRT can make “enforceable instruments”, including road safety remuneration orders (“RSROs”) that will prevail over state or territory laws, modern awards, enterprise agreements, Fair Work Australia orders and transitional instruments.

To identify particular road transport industry matters for inquiry, the RSRT is required to prepare an Annual Work Program which may result in the creation of RSROs that extend compliance requirements to all participants in the road transport supply chain. Those affected include consignees and consignors (such as supermarkets and head contractors) who previously had limited, if any, enforceable obligations to participants “lower” in the supply chain.

RSROs which extend current obligations will have potentially serious consequences for existing commercial contracts in the road transport supply chain.

The RSRT recently issued a statement seeking written submissions on matters that should be included in the initial Annual Work Program. These submissions must be made to the RSRT by 4.00pm AEST on Tuesday, 2 October 2012 and will be published on its website.

After the initial round of submissions, interested parties will have until 4.00pm AEST on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 to submit written submissions to the RSRT in reply.

It is important for employers, principal contractors and consignors to consider making submissions in response to the initial submissions which may result in the creation of RSROs.