Scores of truckers have rolled into Canberra to protest minimum pay rates set by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, with disgruntled self-employed drivers calling for the controversial body to be scrapped.
The convoy of independent drivers rumbled into the national capital on Sunday morning for a rally against the RSRT and will press their point on Monday when parliament resumes.
The truckies travelled from Yass in the New South Wales southern tablelands and are gearing up to take their fight all the way to the lawn of parliament house tomorrow morning.
Owner-drivers are upset about a RSRT decision to introduce a new minimum pay rate which they say, if implemented, would cause many mum-and-dad operators to go bust.
— Alex Beech (@AlexHBeech) April 17, 2016
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the nation depended on independent truckers.
"Our future depends on an enterprising Australia -- Australians who get up and have a go, and if it doesn't work out they have another go," he told the rally.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce praised truckers as great Australian dreamers.
"You people, you do it because you want to live this dream as master of your own ship, master of your own rig," he said.
"That's the great dream of Australia."
He said he would have "great joy" in kicking the RSRT to the curb.
The tribunal was set up by the previous Labor government in 2012 and is responsible for pay and safety in the trucking industry.
Read more about what the tribunal does here.
Turnbull has previously said that the coalition planned to scrap the body because its decisions are sending small operators out of business.
The Transport Workers' Union argues trucking contractors need better pay to compete and stay safe on the roads. It is hosting a counter rally in Sydney in support of the RSRT, Macquarie Radio reports.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the push to scrap the tribunal represented a "race to the bottom" on wages.
"We will see truck drivers cutting corners, forced through very low pay to take risks which will jeopardise the safety of themselves and other motorists," he said.
Earlier, independent senator Glenn Lazarus told ABC television that the government needed to act fast to scrap the tribunal.
"Right now, people are absolutely devastated by this order and we need to get rid of it as soon as possible," Lazarus said.
Australia Top News: Truckies roll into Canberra in protest - HUNDREDS of trucks are expected to converge on the... https://t.co/hB38p20x3T— Thor (SydneyAffairs) (@SydneyAffairs) April 17, 2016
"I will be, through way of a motion, be calling on this government to deal with this tomorrow. Not next week or the week after, after we've dealt with the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission).
"I want this dealt with right now because it's affecting people right now."