Weekly News – Transport Ministers consider proposed reforms, ALRTA presents to international reps

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TRANSPORT MINISTERS CONSIDER PROPOSED REFORMS

Last Friday ALRTA National President Grant Robins travelled to Launceston to observe the meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council.  The outcomes are summarised below.

Infrastructure

The Council considered the publication of the first-ever maps of Australia’s key freight routes. The maps provide a detailed picture of the road and rail routes connecting Australia’s nationally significant places for freight. The maps will assist governments and industry to better understand, and plan for, our critical freight flows, and will be maintained to inform a range of national transport infrastructure policy, regulatory, planning and operational issues.

The Council has approved access objectives for heavy vehicles on the key freight routes. There will be a baseline minimum of ‘as of right’ B-double access across all road key freight routes. The routes that do not currently provide this level of access will be considered by relevant jurisdictions on a case by case basis.

The Council also agreed to deliver increased safety and efficiency in management of the freight task by adopting the objective of increasing access above the baseline for high productivity vehicles, particularly on inter-urban routes. High productivity vehicle access will be subject to safety and engineering standards consistent with the Performance Based Standards scheme and to the infrastructure being suited to these vehicles.

Improvements in high productivity vehicle access levels on the key freight routes will be subject to ongoing monitoring, with the results to be published annually by the NHVR and to include gaps in access and anomalies across state and territory borders.

Ministers noted advice from the NHVR on activities to improve access permit administration, particularly progress to boost the number of pre-approved routes.  Over 500 gazetted and pre-approved routes have been implemented since February 2014.  The Council also noted further progress to approve more Performance-Based Standards scheme vehicles which offer industry the potential to achieve higher productivity safely through innovative vehicle design.

Heavy Vehicle Reform

The Council was briefed by the National Transport Commission and the NHVR on progress with the Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness Program, including development of options contained in a draft consultation regulation impact statement.

Ministers agreed new arrangements for the appointment of independent auditors and more effective business rules for the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme to ensure more effective roadworthiness requirements for heavy vehicles.  The Northern Territory will agree, following finalisation of an arrangement with the NHVR, to a flexible approach to auditor technical qualifications in remote areas.

Ministers have also requested that the NHVR accelerate progression of a range of operational and non-regulatory measures designed to further improve heavy vehicle roadworthiness.

Chain of Responsibility

The Council deferred considering proposed changes until a full package of reforms is available in May 2015.

National Road Safety Action Plan

The Council endorsed the National Road Safety Strategy Action Plan 2015-17, which was developed in response to the review findings.  The new Action Plan is intended to focus national efforts on activities that will deliver or support significant long-term improvements to the safety of Australia’s road transport system, especially through strategic investment in infrastructure safety, vehicle safety and capacity building work.

ALRTA PRESENTATION TO INTERNATIONAL DELEGATES

The ALRTA has made a presentation to over 50 international delegates in Canberra at the Enriched Seminar for OIE National Focal Points for Animal Welfare.

Our presentation was made by Graeme Hoare (ALRTA VP and Chair of the ALRTA National Animal Welfare Committee) and ALRTA Councillor Lynley Miners.

Our topic was ‘How the OIE Land Transport Standard is Implemented in Australia’.  The International delegates were mostly from nations in the Asia-Pacific region and were captivated by the large vehicles and long distances travelled in Australia.  While we discussed the process for the implementation of the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines we also took the opportunity to call for important improvements in the laws relating to:

  • Pre-transport preparation of animals (proper application of feed and water curfews);
  • Provision of truck washes and effluent dumps at major livestock facilities;
  • Extending the opening hours of registered export facilities; and
  • Improving the standard of ramps and forcing yards. Generally speaking, the international OIE Animal standards specifically address these matters but the corresponding laws in Australia just do not have the teeth to achieve the desired outcomes. The international delegates were also extremely interested in the LRTAV videos demonstrating practical and cost-effective changes made to ramps and yards on farms and at commercial facilities. If a picture is worth a thousand words, those videos were worth a million.

ALRTA DELEGATION MEETS WITH RSPCA

While Graeme and Lynley were in the big smoke it was opportune to meet with the National CEO of the RSPCA to discuss a range of initiatives that we are working on and also to give our views on the RSPCA’s proposal to mandate the reporting of animal cruelty.

It seems our organisations are basically on the same page with all of the issues raised in our presentation to the OIE.  RSPCA are also strongly supportive of growing truckCare and our partnership with NTI to establish a rollover response assistance hotline.

Our views differed on the topic of mandatory reporting of animal cruelty but only with respect to the ‘mandatory’ component.  We certainly agree that industry has a role to play in actively discouraging all forms of animal cruelty and in reporting unacceptable behaviours so that enforcement actions can occur.

But the reality is that an operator’s livelihood can be seriously jeopardised by publically pointing the finger at commercial parties. Trust can be everything when you are contacting and sub-contracting on the go.

Criminalising the ‘witness’ to an event is not the answer and we think that the best way to encourage reporting is to educate the supply chain about why it is in the industry’s best interests to report serious events and offer anonymous channels for this to occur such as a 1800 number.  Of course, this does not preclude an individual from putting their name to a report if they decide to do so.

RAMPS WORKING GROUP MEETS TO DISCUSS DESIGNS

The ALRTA Ramps Working Party met via teleconference this week to discuss a series of draft sheep and cattle ramp designs generously prepared by ProWay with reference to the general guidelines agreed at our Ramps Workshop earlier in the year.

The ALRTA intends to publish the designs as part of our ramp and forcing yard guidelines that we are aiming to finalise and make available over the next few months.

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