Weekly News – 13 May 2016

2016 Federal Election Campaign

 The ALRTA is participating in discussions with the ATA and COSBOA concerning a coordinated Federal Election Campaign.  The Trucking Industry is in broad agreement that our primary issues are:

  • No RSRT;
  • Direct safety measures; and
  • Improved business viability.

There are several specific issues of interest within the topics of ‘safety’ and ‘viability’ that we will expand upon during the campaign.

The ALRTA Executive met via tele-conference yesterday to consider how the ALRTA can use our resources to support the industry lobbying effort.  We have devised a strategy that we will execute in the lead up to 2 July 2016.

Over the next few weeks, look out for our ‘scorecard’ summarising how the Liberals, Nationals, Labor, Greens and Independents measure up on key trucking policies.

We will also actively push our message in marginal electorates around Australia.

Inquiry into RSRT Impact

 The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) is conducting an urgent Inquiry into the impact of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal 2016 Payments Order on owner-drivers.

The Inquiry was triggered by a reference from the Coalition Government. It will cover the period leading up to the commencement of the 2016 Order, through to the abolition, and any lasting impact on affected parties.

The ALRTA has previously made representations to the Coalition Government about the impact of the 2016 Order in terms of lost work, lower value work and problems with financiers.

The ALRTA will attend a roundtable meeting with the ASBFEO in Canberra on Monday and we will make a formal submission in due course.

ACCC Cattle and Beef Market Study

 The ACCC has commenced a market study into the cattle and beef industry in Australia.  The study will examine competition, efficiency, transparency and trading issues in cattle and beef supply chains.

The ALRTA has made a short submission in response to the Issues Paper focussing on:

  • The effect of a seller’s geographic location on access to particular sales channels and the effect of this on localised competition and competition and efficiency more broadly. For instance how far can cattle travel efficiently (this may vary across regions) and how does this affect producers’ and buyers’ options for trading cattle?

Our members report that that cattle regularly move efficiently over long distances all around Australia.  The submission includes several examples and describes the factors that buyers consider when weighing up purchase and transport options.

The ACCC is inviting people involved with cattle and beef markets to participate in a series of regional forums to discuss competition and fair trading issues of concern.

Any interested parties are welcome to attend the forums:

  • Tuesday 7 June 2016, Wodonga
  • Friday 10 June 2016, Toowoomba
  • Monday 20 June 2016, Mount Gambier
  • Friday 1 July 2016, Bunbury
  • Friday 24 July 2016, Dubbo

You can register via this link:   https://consultation.accc.gov.au/compliance-enforcement/accc-cattle-and-beef-market-public-consultation-fo/consultation/intro/view

Reminder: LRTAQ Conference:  Longreach 19-22 MAY 2016

There is still time to register for the upcoming LRTAQ Conference at Longreach, QLD, 19-22 May 2016.  The conference program also incorporates the LRTAQ AGM and legendary Bull Carter’s Ball.

While you are in Longreach you can check out the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Qantas Founders Museum, Cobb and Co and Powerhouse Museum.

To register click here: http://lrtaq.com.au/

Posted in General News | Comments Off on Weekly News – 13 May 2016

Weekly News – 6 May 2016

Key Announcements in the 2016-17 Budget

The big news this week is the delivery of Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first Budget.  You would have no doubt already heard the slogan about ‘Jobs and Growth’ many times.

But what does it mean for road transport businesses?

The ATA has produced a fact sheet for the information of members so you can consider the relevant detail for yourself.   Read on below.

Key points

  • Company tax rate for small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million per year to fall to 27.5 per cent from 1 July 2016
  • Unincorporated small businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million per year to receive an 8 per cent tax discount
  • Many small business tax concessions to be extended to businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million (up from $2 million)
  • Fuel tax credit rate for eligible trucks to increase from 13.36 cents per litre to 13.6 cents per litre from 1 July 2016

Economic forecasts

  Outcomes Forecasts
  2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
  (% change) (% change) (% change) (% change)
Household consumption 2.7 3 3 3
Private investment        
Dwellings 7.9 8 2 1
Total business investment -6.2 -11 -5 0
Mining investment -17.3 -27½ -25½ -14
Non-mining investment 1.2 -2
Exports of goods and services 6.5 6 5
Imports of goods and services 0.0 0 3
Real gross domestic product 2.2 3
Unemployment rate (per cent) 6.1
Consumer price index 1.5 2

The Budget forecasts the Australian economy will grow by 2½ per cent in 2016-17, before increasing to 3 per cent in 2017-18 as the drag on economic growth caused by falling mining investment eases.

Mining investment is expected to fall 25½ per cent in 2016-17 and 14 per cent in 2017-18, as existing projects are completed.

Non-mining investment is expected to increase 3½ per cent in 2016-17 and 4½ per cent in 2017-18, although Treasury concedes that its recovery has been slower than expected. This is a key uncertainty in Australia’s economic outlook, and highlights the importance of the Government’s budget measures to encourage greater investment by small businesses.

Household spending is expected to increase 3 per cent in 2016-17 and 3 per cent in 2017-18, underpinned by low interest rates and a decline in the amount of money that households are saving, rather than spending.

The growth in housing investment is forecast to tail off in 2016-17 (2 per cent growth) and 2017-18 (1 per cent growth), after growing very strongly in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The decline in the growth of housing construction is due to the expected completion of a record number of medium-high density dwellings.

Total exports are forecast to increase by 5 per cent in 2016-17 and 5½ per cent in 2017-18. These forecasts are lower than they were last December, because of a forecast higher exchange rate (which makes Australian exports more expensive) and the weakening outlook for base metals.

Imports are forecast to grow 2½ per cent in 2016-17 and 3 per cent in 2017-18, with zero growth expected in 2015-16. These low growth figures reflect the wind down in capital imports for the mining sector. Other imports can be expected to grow in line with the broader economy.

The unemployment rate, which was 5.7 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in March, is expected to decrease slightly to 5½ per cent in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The expected decline in the unemployment rate is due to strong employment growth in labour intensive parts of the economy like education, health and retail trade.

 Key budget announcements for trucking businesses

Business tax cuts

From 1 July 2016, the Government will reduce the company tax rate for small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million per year to 27.5 per cent.

The Government will also extend the unincorporated small business tax discount.

From 1 July 2016, the discount will be available to businesses with an annual turnover of less than $5 million (up from $2 million) and will be increased to 8 per cent. The discount will continue to be capped at $1,000 per individual per year.

Small business tax concessions

The turnover threshold for a number of small business tax concessions will be increased from $2 million to $10 million. From 1 July 2016, these businesses will have access to:

  • simplified depreciation rules, including immediate tax deductibility for asset purchases costing less than $20,000 until 30 June 2017
  • a simplified method of paying PAYG instalments calculated by the ATO
  • the option of accounting for GST on a cash basis and paying GST instalments as calculated by the ATO
  • other tax concessions currently available to small businesses, such as simplified trading stock rules and FBT exemptions (from 1 April 2017).

The threshold change will not affect eligibility for the small business capital gains tax concessions, which will continue to be restricted to businesses with annual turnover of less than $2 million or that satisfy the maximum net asset value test.

Road user charge and fuel tax credits

The road user charge will fall from 26.14 to 25.9 cents per litre from 1 July 2016.

As a result, the fuel tax credit rate for eligible trucks will increase from 13.36 cents per litre to 13.6 cents per litre.

Transfer of former RSRT spending to the NHVR

The Budget confirms that the Government will transfer $15.6 million over four years from the former RSRT to the NHVR for practical safety measures.

Infrastructure spending

The Government has committed $920 million per year from 2019-20 to extend the following infrastructure programs:

  • Roads to Recovery ($400 million per year)
  • Black Spots ($60 million per year)
  • Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity ($40 million)
  • Bridges Renewal ($60 million)
  • National Network Maintenance ($350 million)
  • Research and evaluation ($10 million)

A detailed breakdown showing the key projects that the Government will fund in each state in 2016-17 is available [PDF, 126 KB]

Disclaimer
The Australian Trucking Association has prepared this fact sheet with due care, but our understanding of the Budget measures may change as more information becomes available. In addition, many Budget measures need to be passed by Parliament. The fact sheet is intended for general information only and may not apply to your business circumstances. You should get advice from your accountant or tax agent before acting on the information in this fact sheet.

Minister Chester consults Industry Leaders on safety priorities

This week, the ALRTA attended a roundtable of industry leaders hosted by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, to discuss priorities for improving safety in the heavy vehicle sector.

The meeting follows the recent abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration System and the allocation of an additional $3.9m annually over four years to the NHVR.

ATA members met earlier in the day with NHVR senior management to discuss the organisation’s current safety program and how the additional money might be used to fast-track or expand initiatives.

The ALRTA is supportive of the Minister’s proposal to expand the NSW and SA camera network into VIC and QLD and for NHVR to lead the integration of the system to make it more useful for tracking long distance heavy vehicles. A national registration system is also required to make the best use of the technology.

The ALRTA has also proposed that some of the available funding is directed towards a national education program for drivers of light vehicles.   More than 80% of fatal multi-vehicle accidents that involve a truck are actually caused by a light vehicle (i.e. the truck driver is not at fault). There is huge potential for the Federal Government to help reduce the incidence of fatal accidents by educating light vehicle drivers about how to share the road safely with larger vehicles.

Other areas of interest for industry include fast tracking the development of industry codes of practice; enhancing chain of responsibility laws and more rapid roll out of roadworthiness reforms including a move to risk-based vehicle inspections.

ALRTA Responds to NTC reform proposals

Over the past two weeks the ALRTA has made formal written submissions to the NTC on a proposal to reform the HVNL to enhance executive officer liability, as well as proposals to improve the productivity of heavy vehicles with additional axles including: twin steer & tri drive prime movers and trailer quad axles groups.

We have supported an option to make the scope and construct of executive officer liability consistent throughout the law.  Essentially, we would like to see the recent changes agreed for the chain of responsibility provisions apply similarly in other parts of the law.  There is no need to either increase or decrease the number of offences that attract executive officer liability – it is really just a matter of consistency to reduce the potential for confusion about the legal standards that apply.

ALRTA is supportive of increasing the mass allowable for combinations that include additional axles.  The total mass for the combination needs to reflect the mass allowable over the sum of the individual axle groups.   The current rules discourage operators from using innovative vehicle types because the extra weight of more axles just increases the tare mass without also increasing the allowable payload.

New National Network for PBS Truck and Dogs

The NHVR has released Australia’s first gazette Notice for PBS truck and dog combinations.

The Notice will replace the need for state based permits for heavy vehicle combinations comprising of a three or four-axle truck, towing a three, four or five-axle dog trailer.

The NHVR estimates that the notice will replace around 1,500 permits annually.  This is great news for operators who use combinations under the notice.

The NHVR has also released a new National Class 1 Special Purpose Vehicle Notice covering heavy vehicles such as cranes and concrete pumps. This will replace around 4,000 permits annually.

Together, these notices are a welcome development for all operators who use the permit system.  The removal of 5,500 permits from the access system should help free up resources so that other applications can be looked at more quickly.

For more information see the National class 2 PBS level 1 and 2A truck and dog trailer authorisation notice 2016 (no.1) (PDF, 711KB) and the supporting Information sheet – National class 2 PBS level 1 and 2A truck and dog trailer authorisation notice 2016 (PDF, 798KB)

Tell us about your problems with the HVNL

The HVNL is a very large and complex Act.  It is also relatively new, having replaced 13 separate pieces of legislation only a few years ago.

It is quite normal that such a large Act will contain some drafting errors, internal inconsistencies and other problems where the law unintentionally causes practical problems for transport operators.

For this reason the NTC keeps a HVNL Maintenance Group in operation to identify and fix minor problems.  The Maintenance Group is about to launch into a new round of investigation.

In the past, the process has helped fix things like technical requirements to carry unnecessary paperwork.  ALRTA is already aware of some issues with the size and positioning of vehicle signage.

If you have experienced any problems in the practical application of the HVNL, or you have some ideas on how it could be improved, please let us know so we can seek a resolution on your behalf.

LRTAQ Conference:  Longreach 19-22 MAY 2016

There is still time to register for the upcoming LRTAQ Conference at Longreach, QLD, 19-22 May 2016.  The conference program also incorporates the LRTAQ AGM and legendary Bull Carter’s Ball.

While you are in Longreach you can check out the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Qantas Founders Museum, Cobb and Co and Powerhouse Museum.

To register click here: http://lrtaq.com.au/

Posted in General News | Comments Off on Weekly News – 6 May 2016

Weekly News – 29 April 2016

ALRTA National Council meets in Brisbane

 The ALRTA National Council met in Brisbane on Friday, 22 April 2016.  It was with some relief that the RSRT had been abolished earlier in the week and this allowed Council to focus on other important issues such as executive officer liability, effluent and proposed productivity reforms (twin steer axles, tri-drive prime movers and quad axle trailers).

We welcomed special guests Paul Retter (CEO NTC), Marcus Burke (Project Director NTC) and Dr Andrew Higgins (Principal Research Scientist CSIRO).  Dr Higgins delivered a very interesting presentation on CSIRO’s TRANSIT modelling tool which has been used to identify priority projects for $100m of investment from the Beef Roads Fund.

The TRANSIT model is now being extended to most agricultural commodities.   Availability of the model promises to be an enormous advantage to the rural transport sector because it can be used to quickly and objectively quantify the benefits of particular road infrastructure proposals – this is a vital part of competitive applications but is also the most challenging component.  We are working with CSIRO to further enhance the model.

Pic 1

ALRTA Welcomes new staff member

 The ALRTA Secretariat welcomes Tracy Fairhall into the role of Office and Marketing Manager.  On her very first day, Tracy attended the ALRTA National Council meeting in Brisbane to get acquainted with our leaders and current priority issues.

Tracy has extensive experience in both the office and marketing functions and has previously worked for commercial businesses, government and industry associations.

Following an internal restructure of the staff sharing arrangements between ALRTA and LBCA, the part time Office Manager and Marketing Manager roles were merged into a single full time position.   As a result, all ALRTA staff are now dedicated only to national operations.

Please make Tracy feel welcome.

Pic 2.jpg

ALRTA Meets with NHVR Senior Management

 The NHVR Livestock and Rural Transporters Industry Operations Group met with senior NHVR Management in Brisbane on 21 April 2016, including NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto.   The group comprises our state association presidents.  The discussions centred around road access, NHVAS, roadworthiness and chain of responsibility.  NHVR are gearing up to launch a new ‘front end’ access system which has excellent functionality for operators to make, track, save and duplicate access requests.

Progress made on new AFM Templates

 ALRTA met with NHVR experts last week to discuss the progression of two additional AFM templates that aim to provide accredited operators with more flexibility when undertaking longer runs.  This will improve productivity while also reducing safety risks for drivers and avoiding the need to take long rest breaks in inhospitable environments.

To ensure that the best operational expertise was available for the workshop in Brisbane, ALRTA met the travel costs of professional schedulers from WA, VIC, QLD, SA and NSW.

Pic 3.jpg

ATA Board Elections

 The ALRTA congratulates LRTASA President David Smith on his election to the ATA Board at last week’s AGM.  David is a past ALRTA National President and has been our representative to the ATA Council for several years.

We also congratulate Noelene Watson who was re-elected as Chair for a further two year term as well as Sharon Middleton, SARTA President, who was elected to the Board.

ALRTA thanks the outgoing ATA Board Members Gordon Martin and Trevor Martyn for their outstanding service to the industry.

Pic 5.jpg

ATA Welcomes cut to Truck Fuel Tax Rate

The Australian Trucking Association has welcomed the Australian Government’s decision to reduce the truck fuel tax rate – known as the road user charge – from 26.14 to 25.9 cents per litre from 1 July 2016.

The reduction was one of the recommendations in the ATA’s 2016 pre-budget submission, and follows several meetings between the ATA and senior ministers. It will save a typical owner-driver about $200 in 2016-17, and a typical small fleet operator about $1,100.

ATA Chief Executive Christopher Melham thanked the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon. Darren Chester MP, for working to address the ongoing overcharging faced by the trucking industry.

“The trucking industry pays for our use of the road system through heavy vehicle registration fees and a road user charge on fuel. However, the industry has been overcharged since 2007, because the system used to calculate the charges underestimates the number of trucks on our roads,” Mr Melham said.

“The Australian, state and territory governments last year agreed to a two-year freeze in their revenue from heavy vehicle charges in response to the problem.

“Reducing the road user charge from the current 26.14 cents per litre to 25.9 cents per litre will ensure that the Government’s predicted revenue from the road user charge remains constant.

“The decision builds on, and goes further than, the Government’s previous decisions to freeze the road user charge rate in 2014 and 2015.

“It’s great news for trucking operators in advance of next week’s Federal Budget and follows the repeal of the Road Safety Remuneration Act and tribunal last week,” Mr Melham said.

The road user charge is imposed as a reduction in the fuel tax credits that trucking businesses can claim through the BAS process. As a result of the decision, the fuel tax credit rate for eligible heavy vehicles will increase from 13.36 cents per litre to 13.6 cents per litre from 1 July 2016.

Finalists announced for National Trucking Awards

 The ALRTA is pleased to inform members that LRTAV President John Beer has been announced as an Australian Trucking Industry Awards finalist in the category of ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Trucking Industry’.

John is a veteran of the livestock and rural transport industry, with more than 50 years’ driving experience under his belt. As an owner-driver, John is passionate about the safety and viability of smaller operators, and is dedicated to addressing the ‘grass roots’ issues faced by truck drivers every day. He is particularly dedicated to improving the safety of livestock loading ramps, and was the key driver behind the development of ALRTA’s ‘Guide for Safe Design of Livestock Loading Ramps and Forcing Yards’. John is the President and a life member of the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria, and a past president of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association.

We wish John all the best when the winners are announced on Saturday 25 June at the ATA Foundation Sponsors Gala Dinner on the Gold Coast as part of Trucking Australia 2016, the ATA’s national conference. To register for Trucking Australia 2016 or book tickets for the dinner, visit www.truckingaustralia.com.au.

NSW Work Diary Exemption Notice to expire on 1 May

Following an extended consultation period, the NHVR has advised it will allow the New South Wales work diary exemption notice for 100km work under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) or Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) to expire on 1 May 2016 as previously advised.

In doing so, the NHVR hopes to strengthen the record keeping obligations for BFM and AFM in New South Wales and improve national consistency.

The NHVR believes the extended three month consultation period has provided operators and drivers in BFM or AFM with additional time to transition to keeping work diaries when working within a 100 km radius.

Drivers working under BFM or AFM who have not already done so, should start preparing for the expiry of the notice now by purchasing a National Driver Work Diary. These can be purchased from any Roads and Maritime Services motor registry or through other outlets in participating jurisdictions listed on the NHVR’s website.

For more information go to https://www.nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/fatigue-management/work-diaries-and-record-keeping/work-diaries.

TruckSafe welcomes Southern Rivers Haulage

 The TruckSafe accreditation program is proud to welcome its newest accredited member, Southern Rivers Haulage (VIC).

Established 54 years ago, Southern Rivers Haulage is based in Ballan, VIC, and has been TruckCare accredited since 2008. Starting out as a single truck operation, today its fleet of four b-doubles transport livestock out of Forbes and Dubbo for the meat industry. The family business is led by Desmond Conroy, with his sons Anthony and Danny also holding key roles.

Mr Conroy said livestock transport had always been the core of the business.

“The abattoirs prefer operators to have TruckCare and now TruckSafe – it helps you to have all the paperwork, and it’s a good idea,” Mr Conroy said.

“If you have any problems, it also helps to prove that you’re a good operator, and that your drivers are well trained.

“Your staff are your business – if you have good drivers, that’s the key.”

TruckSafe Chairman Stephen Marley said TruckSafe accredited operators voluntarily went the extra mile to meet rigorous standards in management, maintenance, training, and workplace and driver health.

“”I’d like to congratulate Sothern Rivers Haulage on becoming a fully accredited TruckSafe operator, and welcome them to the TruckSafe family,” Mr Marley said.

“When you use a TruckSafe accredited business, you know you’re dealing with a safe, professional operator.”

TruckSafe the trucking industry’s own business and risk management system, which aims to improve the safety and professionalism of trucking operators across Australia.
 

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Weekly News – 7 April 2016

Update on the Road Safety Remuneration Order

Consultation Forums

The Federal Government has announced the times and locations of the consultation forums on reform options for the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

All of the forums will be held next week and you must register to attend.

The 2hr forums will be conducted by the Department of Employment and held in the following locations:

  • Monday: Perth & Bunbury
  • Tuesday: Adelaide
  • Wednesday: Mount Gambier
  • Thursday: Albury-Wodonga & Gatton
  • Friday: Campbell Town (Tas)

Full forum details, a discussion paper and information on how to register can be found here:  https://www.employment.gov.au/review-road-safety-remuneration-system

If you are able, please attend and have your say.  There is not much time to prepare but it is better than being threatened with prison over Easter.

The Federal Court Case

Details on this are sketchy, but we understand that the initial case was heard on Wednesday with a decision on the continuation of a stay reserved until Thursday afternoon. A further hearing was set down for May.

More news on this as it comes to hand.

Possible High Court Case

The Independent Contractors Association has announced that the body plans to launch a High Court Challenge.  The basis of the challenge is that the Commonwealth does not have the power to fix prices charged by independent businesses.

The ALRTA understands that in 1973, Australians comprehensively rejected the following referendum question:

  • Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled “An Act to alter the Constitution so as to enable the Australian Parliament to control prices”?

Presumably, the Whitlam Government considered that it did not have power to set prices in the manner in which the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has now ordered and the ALRTA is unware of any later constitutional change that would have altered the situation.

You can find more information here: http://www.independentcontractors.net.au/

ALRTA Welcomes Government Move to Provide Certainty for Owner Drivers

The ALRTA has warmly welcomed the announcement by the Federal Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaela Cash, that the Coalition Government will introduce legislation in the week commencing 18 April 2016 to prevent mandatory minimum rates for owner drivers taking effect before 1 January 2017.

ALRTA National President Kevin Keenan said that a legislative solution would provide all parties with certainty until the Federal Court challenges and Government consultation processes can be completed.

“Safety is our number one issue and everyone deserves to be paid fairly, but the 2016 Road Safety Remuneration Order is anti-competitive and will just destroy small family businesses.  There is no proven link between pay and safety and the very existence of the Tribunal takes the focus off initiatives that do have a proven influence on safety such as chain of responsibility laws, vehicle standards and infrastructure improvements,” said President Keenan.

However, we must also acknowledge that there are a range of views in the transport industry and across the political spectrum.”

“It is now up to the courts to determine whether or not the 2016 Order has been correctly made – but no one knows how long that might take.  At the same time, the Government is consulting with stakeholders on options for future legislative reform.  Again, we do not know how long it will take to reach agreement or exactly when the Federal election will be upon us.”

“In the meantime rural transport operators need some certainty so they can get on with the job of moving Australia’s agricultural produce to our ports and markets.”

“Without the certainty of a legislative delay, owner drivers will suffer because hirers just won’t want the risk of an adverse court finding or election result that puts them in the firing line.  This will affect the entire supply chain, service providers to the transport industry and regional communities.”

“Given all of the circumstances, Senator Cash’s proposal for a legislative delay is sensible and pragmatic.”

“I call on Federal Parliamentarians of all persuasions to support the delay bill, keeping in mind that the Parliament will still have the opportunity to decide on the future of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal at a later date,” said President Keenan.

Senator Lazarus and Senator O’Sullivan to Introduce Repeal Bills

In addition to the Coalition announcement of a ‘delay bill’, Senator Lazarus and Senator O’Sullivan have each separately committed to introducing private senator’s bills that would have the effect of repealing the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012, along with the Tribunal and Orders that it has made.

ALRTA, NFF and COSBOA Write Jointly to all Senators on RSRT Bills

The ALRTA, National Farmers Federation and Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia jointly wrote to all Senators this week outlining our position on the delay and repeal bills.

We laid out our case for why we support a repeal bill as our first preference, but we have also asked all Senators to at least support a delay if they are unable to commit to a full repeal at this stage.

ALRTA in the Media

The ALRTA and our State Associations have been very active in the media over the past month.  We have issued three formal national media statements and have participated in dozens of TV, radio and print interviews – there are just too many to list.

The important thing is that the issue is now mainstream news.  Voters around Australia are aware of the issue and many are following it with interest.

We will continue to work hard to keep the issue in the media and use the political capital to press for change while we can.

National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey (NRBS)

The NHVR will conduct a survey of 9000 heavy vehicles to gather information about the Australian heavy vehicle fleet to assess the standard of roadworthiness and identify causal factors that may result in adverse safety, economic and environmental impacts.

The survey – the first of its kind – is being undertaken to provide a national baseline for the condition of the heavy vehicle fleet against which future reform measures can be assessed. This data will also inform the development of policies implemented as part of a risk-based inspection regime.

The survey is one of eight projects that the NHVR is delivering as part of the Roadworthiness Program.

The overall goal of the program is to encourage a more proactive industry approach to vehicle maintenance that will reduce the social, environmental and economic impacts resulting from unroadworthy heavy vehicles.

For more information visit www.nhvr.gov.au or call 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487). Standard call charges apply, check with your phone provider.

LRTAQ Conference LONGREACH: 19-22 May 2016

Members are invited to the upcoming LRTAQ Conference at Longreach, QLD, 19-22 May 2016.  The conference program also incorporates the LRTAQ AGM and legendary Bull Carter’s Ball.

While you are in Longreach you can check out the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Qantas Founders Museum, Cobb and Co and Powerhouse Museum.

To register click here: http://lrtaq.com.au/

Posted in General News | Comments Off on Weekly News – 7 April 2016

Weekly News – 1 April 2016

No Delay to Road Safety Remuneration Order

 Late this afternoon, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) has issued a decision not to delay the commencement date of the 2016 Road Safety Remuneration Order (2016 Order).

This means that the whole 2016 Order will commence on 4 April 2016 – including the minimum rates.

Operators should be aware that the existing 2014 Order contains ‘adverse conduct’ provisions that can apply penalties to hirers that discontinue to use of owner drivers because of any entitlement arising from an Order.  This means that if you discontinue the use of an owner driver AFTER 4 April 2016 because the new rates are too high the ‘adverse conduct’ provisions may apply to you.

So, if you intend to take action, you should do it before, Monday, 4 April 2016.

ALRTA National President Kevin Keenan said that this is an outrageous decision that totally disregards the owner driver submissions made to the Tribunal and the evidence provided by the witnesses over the Easter period.

“The Tribunal has decided that owner drivers have no place in the road transport industry and should be regulated out of existence.  This comes in the face of wide spread confusion about the Order and compelling examples of how the Order will ruin businesses”, said President Keenan.

“The Tribunal has hauled witnesses in over the Easter period under the threat of imprisonment and then totally disregarded their statements and the 800 submissions in support of a delay”.

“How on earth the Tribunal could have found that ‘there is now significant support for the 2016 RSRO’ defies belief”.

“This Tribunal is meant to improve fairness and safety.  The anti-competitive nature of the order is not fair.  By their own reasoning, the Tribunal should know that placing additional financial pressure on owner drivers is not safe”.

“Affected owner drivers and hirers have every right to be furious at this decision and rally to make their views known to the Federal Parliament.  The ALRTA and our state associations will continue this fight to the bitter end,” said President Keenan.

Government Releases Damning Reviews of the RSRT

 Today the Federal Government has released two reports which reviewed the operation and impact of the RSRT.  One was an independent review undertaken in 2014 and the other was a statutory review required under legislation after the first three years of operation of the Tribunal.

Both reports are damning.  In summary, they find that:

  • $13.4m has been spent on the Tribunal;
  • The link between remuneration and safety is not proven and actions to address any possible link are premature and ill-founded;
  • The Tribunal has not adequately considered regulatory overlap with existing safety laws;
  • The 2014 and 2016 Orders will together result in a net cost to the economy of around $2.3b in net present value over the next 15 years.

We would also add that a judicial system is highly inappropriate for heavy vehicle safety reform and that the 2016 Oder is inherently unfair and anti-competitive.

The reports conclude that abolition of the RSRT would result in a significant net benefit to the economy and community at large.

The reports are here: https://www.employment.gov.au/news/two-reviews-road-safety-remuneration-system-released-and-consultations-commence

Federal Government to Consult on Reform Options

 In the wake of the damning reports and widespread industry opposition to the RSRT, the Federal Government will now consult on options for reforming the system.

The Government has released a discussion paper which you can find here:  https://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/discussion_paper_rsrs_march_16.pdf

Four options are proposed:

  • Option 1: No change
  • Option 2: Ensuring the Tribunal considers safety evidence and evidence of economic impacts
  • Option 3: Narrow the scope of the Tribunal
  • Option 4: Repeal (abolish) the Road Safety Remuneration System

Abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration System is the only option as far as the ALRTA is concerned.  We need the immediate expiry of all current Order. We will participate in all consultations and make a formal submission.

We understand that the government will convene a series of forums, which will include regional locations.  We will circulate information about how to attend when it comes to hand.

The ATA Swings into Action

The ATA Council met on 30 March 2016 to consider several draft resolutions on the RSRT moved by ALRTA and seconded by SARTA.

The motions were drafted some weeks ago before the RSRT hearings to consider a delay in the Order were called and subsequently held.

Disappointingly, the ATA Council did not agree to write to the RSRT seeking a delay of the Order, but this was primarily because the window for formal submissions had closed.  ATA Council did however agreed to write to the Fair Work Ombudsman seeking greater clarity about application of the Order.

In a bold move, the ATA Board met at 11am today to consider the review reports.  The Board agreed that the ALRTA will respond to the reports by staunchly opposing the 2016 because of the dire economic impacts and immediate threat to the viability of many in the industry.

The ATA will issue a media release today and begin lobbying on the issue.

The ATA Council will next meet face-to-face on 20 April 2016.  Members have been asked to make written comment to the ATA containing any proposed motions about the 2016 Order or future of the Tribunal.

 Overview of the RSRT Hearings

 Recap: The draft variation to the 2016 Order

After the hearing on 15 March 2016, the RSRT issued a draft variation to the 2016 Order which would delay the commencement date from 4 April 2016 to 1 January 2017 and phase in the minimum rates for existing contracts over 3 years.

The ALRTA once again made a joint formal submission in coalition with the National Farmers Federation and Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia.

Depending on how you count them, the industry rallied and made around 800 submissions.  The vast majority supported a delay until 1 January 2017 and many also supported the phasing measures.

The ‘Mention’ Hearing: 24 March 2016

 The main purpose of this hearing was to confirm the attendance of witnesses.  The RSRT had ordered around 30 witnesses to appear during the Easter period under threat of 6mths imprisonment.   Some applied to be excused, but the RSRT rang each of them and generally compelled them to appear by phone instead.  The TWU called some additional witnesses.

The big surprise was that TWU, TOLL and Linfox had been negotiating during the week and announced at the hearing that they had agreed on a compromise.  It was asserted that others had also agreed but AIGroup stated they had only agreed to part of the compromise and NatRoad and ARTIO rejected the claim altogether.  Parties argued about the status of the compromise but it was nonetheless accepted by the Tribunal as document ‘TWU1’.  ALRTA had not previously seen the document or been party to the discussions.

Among other things, TWU1 proposed the following:

  • Start date of 1 October 2016 for payment provisions.  Most other provisions would still commence on 4 April.
  • Phasing of rates over one year only: 1 Oct 2016 (80%), 1 Apr 2017 (90%), 1 Oct 2017 (100%).
  • Commitments in principle: 30 day payment terms (not agreed by AIG); extend min rates to all (not agreed by AIG); variations to deal with split loads etc and specific exclusions.
  • Some tweaks around alternative payment systems.
  • Parties maintain right to seek further variations.

More about this later.

The Easter Hearings: 26-28 March 2016

The ALRTA National President, ALRTA Executive Director and LBCA Executive Director participated in a gruelling three days of hearings over the Easter Period (Sat-Sun-Mon).  All of the witnesses were cross examined.

As the hearings wore on, it seemed more and more like the lawyers for TWU, TOLL, Linfox and (at least in part) AI Group were working together to push for an outcome similar to that proposed in TWU1.  There were a lot of objections and counter objections on Day 1 as the parties tested the limits of allowable questioning.

The TWU routinely pursued an intimidation tactic of forcing witnesses to reveal the identity of any hirer that might be contemplating discontinuing the use of sub-contractors.  This was usually done in a closed session, but the message was clear.  Some witnesses just withdrew their statements rather than face this kind of exposure.  This of course reduced the value of the hearings.

While the ‘big end of town’ and the union lawyers did their best to have witnesses say they did not understand the 2016 Order or that they were not aware of some of the provisions, I think this only served to show how vital it is to improve clarity and awareness of the Order before it commences.

There were many witnesses who were able to clearly show that the Order will have a negative financial impact on their business, particularly for back loads, part loads and loads with multiple hirers.  Some of these witnesses were quite reasonably against the Order in its entirety.  The ‘big end of town’ lawyers tried to paint opposition as ‘not caring when the order starts’, but in these circumstances the ALRTA asked careful questions so that the witness had an opportunity to state the need for a delay until 1 January 2017.

On Day 3 the lawyers took the stick to NatRoad for doing what any association would do – assisting their members to understand the Order and exercise their entitlement to object to it.  We pointed out in our line of questioning that members expect their associations to fight for them and that the campaigning of owner drivers was no different to the campaigning of the unions to establish minimum rates in the first place.

Overall it was your typical David vs Goliath court room scenario.

The ALRTA sincerely thanks all witnesses who appeared at one of the hearings to put their business on the line for the wider industry.

Yet Another Submission

Throughout the proceedings there was zero understanding about the status of the TWU / Linfox / TOLL agreement, ‘TWU1’.   It came up from time to time, but an argument always immediately followed.

At the close of the Easter hearing, the RSRT Bench directed that parties could make submissions on TWU1 by 4pm the following day.

We again made a joint submission with NFF and COSBOA.  We argued that the document should be disregarded because it was not tendered during the formal submission period and does not have the support of the main affected party – owner drivers.  It would also impose confusing and possibly unnecessary red tape from 4 April 2016 even though the rates would not apply until 1 October 2016.

Looking through the submissions posted online, most have rejected the compromise position.

ROAD SAFETY REMUNERATION ORDERS: WHAT DO THEY MEAN FOR YOU?

The RSRT has now issued two road safety remuneration orders (RSRO) that are likely to affect your road transport business.  These are:

RSRO Start End
Road Transport and Distribution and Long Distance Operations Road Safety Remuneration Order 2014 1 May 2014 30 April 2018
Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 4 April 2016 3 April 2020

It is important for all transport businesses to be aware of the RSROs which are the law during the periods specified above.  Non-compliance can be subject to significant penalties.

The RSROs override all contacts – even those that you already have in place.  You should factor the RSRO requirements into any contract that you enter into.

The ALRTA has prepared this advice to raise awareness of the RSROs and to help you understand their scope and coverage.  The advice necessarily summarises some of the content and so we recommend that you read the RSROs in full and seek professional advice if in any doubt.

Who is Covered by the Orders?

The RSROs are established under Commonwealth Law using constitutional powers over corporations; territories; and interstate trade.  This means that the RSROs have broad, but not 100% coverage.  Generally, the RSROs will apply to you if:

  • You or another party to a transport contract are a constitutional corporation, based in a Territory; are part of a body corporate in a Territory; or are a Commonwealth / Territory authority;
  • The primary purpose of the transport is to further the interests of any of the above;
  • The contract is entered into in a Territory or the transport service occurs in a Territory;
  • The transport service crosses a State or Territory border and exceeds 200km in total distance.

To ensure compliance, you will need to know the legal status of the other parties in the chain – so sometimes it might be wise to err on the side of caution and assume the RSRO applies if you just don’t know.

However, one situation in which you can be fairly certain that and the RSRO does not apply is if you are a sole trader / partnership, doing work for another sole trader / partnership, and the work occurs wholly within one State.

The latest advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman indicates that if you are an owner driver, but you operate other trucks that are driven by employee drivers, none of your vehicles will be subject to minimum rates.

You can find the advice on this and other issues here: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/legislation/road-safety-remuneration-system

What Tasks are Covered by the Orders?

The RSROs can apply to the distribution of goods or livestock:

  • destined for sale or hire by a supermarket chain; or
  • as part of long distance operations.

Where:

  • ‘Livestock’ refers to horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry.
  •  ‘Super market chains’ refer only to those with five or more outlets.
  • ‘Long distance’ operations are defined as interstate operations or return journeys where the distance travelled exceeds 500km.

General Provisions

The RSROs provide road transport drivers with protection against ‘adverse conduct’. This means that you cannot discriminate against a road transport driver simply because they have a workplace entitlement which they may exercise under an RSRO. This includes refusal to make use of services offered by the road transport driver.

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal is empowered to hear certain types of disputes about remuneration or related conditions.

Enforcement of the RSROs is the responsibility of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Specific Provisions of the RSROs

  • 2014 RSRO: Road Transport and Distribution and Long Distance Operations Road Safety Remuneration Order 2014

The full 2014 RSRO can be found here:  http://www.rsrt.gov.au/index.cfm/remuneration-orders/enforceable-rsros/pr350280/

This order applies to both ‘hirer – contract driver’ relationships and ‘employer – employee’ relationships.

Mandatory Written Contracts

  • A written contract must be in place between the parties prior to engagement.
  • The RSRO specifies the minimum content of the contract.
  • The employer or hirer must keep a copy of the contract for 7 years from the date of cessation of the contract.

Payment Times

  • A hirer must pay to a contractor driver any undisputed amount set out in a valid taxation invoice provided by the contractor driver, or generated for the contractor driver, for the provision of a road transport service on any given day, within 30 days of the date of receipt by the hirer of the invoice.
  • There are also rules around deductions for equipment and insurance etc.

Safe Driving Plans

  • Employers or hirers must provide written safe driving plans to road transport drivers engaged in long distance operations.
  • The plan must be developed and reviewed in consultation with the driver.
  • There are strict rules concerning the minimum content of the plan.
  • Records must be kept by the employer or hirer for 7 years.

Training

  • The employer or hirer must take reasonable steps to provide WH&S training and reimburse the driver for any reasonable training undertaken with prior consent.

Drug and Alcohol Policy

  • The employer or hirer must prepare and implement a drug and alcohol policy, ideally in consultation with drivers.
  • Minimum content of the policy is specified by the RSRO.
  • Drivers must be trained in the policy and any costs reimbursed to the driver.

2) 2016 RSRO: Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016

The full 2016 RSRO can be found here:  http://www.rsrt.gov.au/index.cfm/remuneration-orders/enforceable-rsros/pr350441/

This order applies only to ‘hirer – contract driver’ relationships does not apply to ‘employer – employee’ relationships that are otherwise covered by awards or enterprise agreements.

Promotion of Orders

  • Both the 2014 and 2016 RSROs must be proactively promoted by the hirer.
  • This can include being on display at the depot, being on the hirer’s website, and supplying information on where to find the order on the RSRT website.

Contracts

  • All parties must take reasonable steps to ensure that contracts (including pre-existing contracts) do not contain provisions that would otherwise prevent compliance with the requirements imposed by the RSRO.

Audit of Contracts

  • The hirer must permit other supply chain parties to audit the hirer’s compliance with the RSRO, including reasonable access to relevant records.
  • This applies only if, in that financial year, there is a contract (or multiple contacts taken collectively) that provide for the carriage of goods or livestock on 270 days or more.
  • Any non-compliance must first be detailed to the hirer with a request to rectify the problem within 28 days.
  • If the person is not satisfied with the response, the matter may then be referred to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Minimum Payments

  • The RSRO separately specifies minimum payment rates for supermarket work, and for long distance operations.
  • In both cases the relevant rate is made up of an hourly rate AND a kilometre rate which apply together.
  • The rates are specified in schedules to the RSRO and an online calculator is available at: www.RSRT.gov.au
  • In the case of supermarket work, the equivalent long distance rates may instead be used if the contractor travels more than 400km per day.
  • Alternative payment methods (e.g. using weight; head; pallet; trip rate) may be used provided that, over a 28 day consecutive period, the total payment is no less than what would have been received by the methods specified in the RSRO.  Note: For supermarket work, alternative methods may only be used until midnight 3 October 2016.
  • All rates will automatically increase by 2% per year from 4 April 2017.

A summary of select long-distance rates is included below for information.

  Driver + Truck Driver + Truck + Trailer(s)
Semi $23.53hr + $1.41km $31.29hr + $1.53km
B-Double $23.57hr + $1.57km $35.33hr + $1.80km
Double RT $23.53hr + $1.71km $41.67hr + $2.00km
Triple RT $23.53hr + $1.97km $52.06hr + $2.42km

You can find an online rates calculator here:  http://paymentscalculator.rsrt.gov.au/

Work Time and Distance

  • The RSRO specifies that payments must be made for each hour, or part thereof, that the contract driver necessarily spends in providing the transport service.
  • This includes tasks such as:
    • All time spent at the disposal / discretion of the hirer;
    • All rest time of 30 or less continuous minutes (unless another driver is driving the vehicle while the contractor is at rest);
    • Assisting or supervising others;
    • Loading / unloading, cleaning, inspecting, servicing, repairing;
    • Refuelling where the service requires more than one full tank of fuel;
    • Recording information / documentation;
    • Waiting because of a natural disaster (up to 8 hrs a day).
  • Hirers are not required to pay for time during which the contractor’s vehicle had broken down or is involved in an accident.
  • Kilometre rates apply:
    • From the work site or depot from where the contractor is engaged or a location specified by the hirer which is reasonable taking into account the service to be provided; and
    • To the location at which the road transport service provided by the contract driver concludes.
  • It is important to note that the RSRO does not appear to consider how payments should apply to mixed / part loads, or ‘round trip’ loads which might involve legs in which the vehicle may travel empty.
  • On the face of it, ‘backloads’ at rates below the specified minimums will no longer be permissible – meaning that either a full rate load is carried on the return trip or the truck must return empty.

Annual Leave

  • If a contractor driver has been regularly engaged for 12 months, the hirer must not unreasonably refuse to permit the contractor driver to take 4 weeks unpaid leave on requested dates.

 

Posted in General News | Comments Off on Weekly News – 1 April 2016