ALRTA AND LRTAV VISIT VICTORIAN MINISTERIAL OFFICES
This week the ALRTA Executive Director, and the LRTAV’s John Beer and Marla Stone, travelled to Melbourne to meet political advisors to Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. Natalie Hutchins, and Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Hon Luke Donnellan.
Our primary focus was to better understand the background and potential scope of the recently announced review of the Victorian Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2015. While we were there we also put forward our views on charging, regional infrastructure, permits, national registration, chain of responsibility and industry representation.
Over the next week the ALRTA Executive and LRTAV Committee will consider what we have learned about the owner driver review and agree a strategy for representing the interests of rural operators. In the next fortnight, we will provide you with an overview of the key issues, advise you of our strategy and seek your support for a grass-roots campaign.
INVESTIGATION AND ENFORCEMENT POWERS
This week ALRTA attended an NTC workshop which examined various proposals for improving the investigation and enforcement powers of HVNL authorised officers.
The review of powers is necessary to support the package of chain of responsibility reforms that are contained in the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (Qld) (BREAKING NEWS: this Bill passed the QLD Parliament last night. See next article).
Among other things, the package of reforms will remove the ‘reverse onus of proof’ and replace it with the stock standard ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach – welcome news for operators! However, this can also make it harder for enforcement officers to prosecute parties further up the chain.
Under current laws, if there is evidence of a primary offence on the road, enforcement officers can just ‘deem’ that all other chain parties have also committed an offence. It is then up to each chain party to mount their own ‘reasonable steps’ defence.
In future, officers will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each individual chain party has committed an offence – and this can only be done by acquiring some form of supporting evidence. So, while the new chain of responsibility laws will be much fairer, for the laws to be effective, officers will need to have sufficient powers to acquire information in appropriate circumstances to support their investigations.
There was a good spectrum of stakeholders present representing industry and government and the discussions were open and productive. While everyone wants fair and effective laws, we need to be very careful not to overstep the mark when considering expanded enforcement powers. We do not want over-powered officers on fishing expeditions or operators being tied up in red tape servicing countless information requests.
The ALRTA Executive will consider the range of options early next week and we will make a submission to the NTC shortly thereafter.
HVNL AMENDMENT BILL PASSED QLD PARLIAMENT
Last night, the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016passed the Queensland Parliament and is now expected to travel through other state parliaments and commence around mid-2018.
This bill is an important development for the ALRTA because it includes the comprehensive changes that we have sought to chain of responsibility laws to potentially better hold off-road parties responsible for matters such as effluent containment and loading infrastructure. Some of the key changes include:
- A new primary duty to ensure safety for all parties in the chain
- Modifications to executive officer liabilities based on due diligence
- Replacement of the ‘reasonable steps defence’ with ‘as far as reasonably practicable’
- A principle that parties are included in the chain on the basis of their function rather than their title or contractual description
- Clarity that WH&S law takes precedence over CoR law
- Inclusion of roadworthiness and vehicles standards as part of CoR
- Increasing information gathering powers
- Introduction of self-clearing defect notices
- New requirement that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution
- Penalties for breaching primary duties of up to $3m and/or 5 years imprisonment
- Empowering the NHVR to accept enforceable undertakings as an alternative to penalties
- Recognising industry codes of practice as a reliable form of evidence in court
- Establishing that information contained in an infringement notice is evidence that a heavy vehicle offence happened a time, place and in the circumstances outlined in the notice
- Introduction of a raft of new offences that will make operators and other parties in the chain responsible for ensuring that drivers carry all required paperwork
- Allowing the NHVR to make minor changes to statutory instruments without seeking road manager consent
- Allowing Ministers to delegate minor approval powers to the NHVR Board.
The ALRTA made a submission on the Bill and appeared before the Queensland Parliament Transportation and Utilities Committee. As a result of our representations, the NTC has been directed to clarify the application of CoR laws to pre-transit livestock preparation within the next 12-months. We hope this will further improve the laws in due course.
ALRTA MEETS WITH FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
ALRTA met with the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional development this week to discuss a number of important issues including charging, national registration, chain of responsibility and our proposal to establish a national fund to promote the rapid uptake of optional user-pay livestock loading and unloading infrastructure.
BUILDING BETTER REGIONS FUND
The Federal Minister for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash, has announced a new fund to build better regions across rural, regional and remote Australia. The $298m Building Better Regions Fund supports the Australian Government’s commitment to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future.
There are two streams of funding available under the program:
- Infrastructure Projects Stream: Individual grants available from $20k – $10m for new or upgraded infrastructure that delivers economic or social benefits. Applications open 18 Jan 2017 and close 28 February 2017.
- Community Investments Stream: Individual grants available from $5k – $10m for local events, strategic plans, leadership and capability building activities. Applications open 18 Jan 2017 and close 31 March 2017.
The new fund replaces the National Stronger Regions Fund which this year approved several projects related to truckwashes and saleyard infrastructure including ramps.
If you know of a worthwhile project please contact the ALRTA office and we may be able to assist with your application or support your proposal.
More information can be found here.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE POLICY SESSIONS
As advised last week, the registration brochure for the ALRTA and LRTAQ combined National Conference is now available. The event will be held 17-18 February 2017 in Toowoomba, QLD.
The program for the National Policy Session on Friday 17 February is firming up with topics and several speakers now confirmed. Highlights will include:
- NTI Major Crash Report: Protect yourself by knowing about the latest accident trends and risk factors.
- Rollovers: An expert presentation on how it happens – You may be surprised!
- Electronic Stability Control: Will it be mandatory and is it right for you?
- Farm Gate Access: Hear about the nation-leading program in WA and how it is being tackled in the East.
- Effluent Control: Can chain of responsibility really work?
- A focus on new technology: What is under development and when will it be available?
- Heart of Australia: Inspect the 25m long custom-designed clinic-on-wheels, hauled by a Kenworth K200 prime mover.
The full two-day program of events can be found here. We will bring you further announcements as the event draws nearer.
PACCAR TO CONTINUE SUPPORT IN 2017
The ALRTA is proud to advise members that PACCAR and Dealer will continue to support our national and state associations during 2017. Our long-term partnership remains rock-solid with more than half of our 800 strong membership base choosing a Kenworth or DAF prime mover.
In August this year we were also very pleased to welcome additional support from PACCAR Parts and we will be working cooperatively to further enhance the value of this new arrangement for our members during 2017. Stay tuned!
ALRTA OFFICE SHUTDOWN
Members and other interested parties are advised that the ALRTA National Secretariat will shut down over the Christmas and New Year period. We will close at 5:00pm, Friday 23 December 2016 and re-open at 8:30am, Monday 9 January 2017.