Weekly News – ATA Council interrogates NHVR & NTC, Braking Code, Fuel Tax credits

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ATA COUNCIL INTERROGATES NHVR AND NTC

The ATA Council asked the hard questions of the NHVR and NTC CEOs at a meeting in Canberra this week.  Our ATA representative, David Smith (LRTASA) has been speaking with grass roots members from around the country in the lead up to the meeting and it has been plainly apparent that support for the NHVR is waning.

Much was hoped for.  Much was promised.  But most operators just don’t know how the NHVR has actually helped them.  In some cases it has even made things worse.

The NHVR CEO Sal Pettrocitto has a tough job.  In May this year he inherited a large new organisation that wasn’t working as intended and he’s been told to save money rather than spend more of it.  Meanwhile, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are watching on and biting back on a big ‘I told you so’.

So can it all be turned around?

Sal has a vision and he has taken some big decisions recently.  The organisation will be restructured with an announcement to be made after NHVR Board approval this week.  Senior staff have been removed to make way for a new executive team and Sal is quite open about not wanting to simply be a permit shuffler.

Industry can’t be any clearer about what we want to see – real results, real soon.  Some specific items that the ATA Council have demanded include:

  • Fix Permits – A workable centralised permit system that doesn’t take years upon years to implement.
  • Fast –tracked AFM reform – the risk classification matrix is broken and industry must be represented on the fatigue expert group. There needs to be greater recognition of the good safety records of current AFM operators.
  • Robust NHVAS – improvements to the auditing system and real competition with proven accreditation systems such as TruckSafe.
  • Greatly improved stakeholder consultation – state service providers and industry representatives need to be in the room together, regularly, with the same access to robust performance and resourcing data.

The fundamental longer-term problem that needs tackling is right at the heart of the model.   The NHVR needs to wield real effective control over the states in key operational areas. The states might be called ‘service providers’ these days but the tail still wags the dog.

After all, the system operates under state law. The states collect the money. The states pay the front-line staff. States and Local Governments own the roads and it is State Ministers advised by their State departments who set the regulator’s budget.

This is where the NTC fits in. For this grand experiment to work we need to progress a national registration scheme, national data collection and charging reform. We need to resolve the frustrating policy differences on matters like counting time, defect clearances and inspection regimes that make the states distrustful of one another then reluctant to hand anything over to the NHVR. It is going to take real courage, ongoing reform and ultimately a large measure of trust before the NHVR will ever really be in charge. This journey has only just begun.

BRAKING CODE UNDER DEVELOPMENT

This week the ALRTA participated in an industry-government teleconference to discuss the development of a code of practice for mixing and matching trailers with different braking technologies.

With rapid changes taking place in this space as the government continues to mandate new braking technologies, operators need to have useful guidance on the best way to hook up combinations that might include individual trailers with load proportioning, ABS, EBS or electronic stability control.  This is likely to be a problem for at least the next 20 years.

Fundamentally, our members need to know how to optimise braking performance or avoid problematic combinations.  However there is a risk that poorly designed and inappropriately used guidelines will just become an enforcement tool that will be used to smack you if you don’t continually swap your trailers around.

The draft guidelines have now been under development for more than a year.  It is pleasing that the working group is finally getting serious about producing and publishing a product by the middle of next year but it shouldn’t have taken this long to get to where we are now.

ATO ADVICE ON FUEL TAX CREDITS

As outlined in our newsletter a few weeks ago, the fuel tax rate increase from 38.143 cents per litre to 38.6 cents per litre on 10 November 2014 will not affect the net fuel price paid by trucking operators because the fuel tax credit rate will rise by the same amount at the same time.

Further increases will occur on 1 February and 1 August in line with the Consumer Price Index.

You may find it useful to know that the ATO won’t be including the Fuel tax credits calculation worksheet with the December quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS).  Instead they will include a flyer advising clients to use the fuel tax credit calculator on the ATO website for the most current rates when completing their BAS.

However, clients who wish to continue to use the worksheet can still download and print a copy at Fuel tax credits calculation worksheet.

Please check the rates online at fuel tax credit rates before completing each BAS.

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