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ALRTA SEEKS FREEZE IN FUEL CHARGES
This week the ALRTA formally responded to the NTC recommendation for a 0.6 per cent increase to be applied to the road user charge (a total road user charge rate of 26.3 cents per litre) to take effect from 1 July 2015.
The ALRTA remains very strongly opposed to any increase in the current rate of charging given that the NTC has separately found serious flaws in the current formula which has resulted in over-charging of around $200m in 2013-14 and another $117m in 2014-15.
While Ministers have agreed to apply an adjusted formula from 2016, the NTC is still bound to the old formula for the time being which quite incorrectly determines that a charging increase is required to recover costs. Implementing the recommendation would result in a further $11m of over-charging.
Thankfully, the Federal Government did the right thing last year by freezing charges (even when the states allowed rego charges to increase) and we can only hope that common sense will prevail once again.
NATIONAL RAMP GUIDELINES – INDEPENDENT REVIEW
The Principal Veterinary Officer in Victoria, Dr David Champness, has independently reviewed our draft ramp guidelines and has found the document to be of a very high standard. In fact, it is now possible that the ramp guidelines will be directly referenced in the proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Saleyards and Depots. This is a sensible approach because our guidelines will be reviewed periodically to make sure that ‘best practice’ is always promoted.
Our working group met again this week to further polish up the document ahead of public consultation in May and launch at our national conference in July.
DISCUSSIONS ON EXPORT FACILITY RECEIVAL ARRANGEMENTS
This week Graeme Howell (LRTAV) and I met with representatives from the Federal Department of Agriculture in Canberra to discuss options for improving after-hours receival arrangements at facilities accumulating livestock for export.
We were pleased with the outcome of the meeting and Department’s commitment to consult with supply chain stakeholders with the aim of reaching agreement on voluntary protocols that can be applied during the short receival window. The ALRTA is working with LRTAV and LRTASA to compile some supporting information about problems at specific facilities to assist the Department in targeting solutions.
If the voluntary approach doesn’t work, the Department does have tools up its sleeve that can be used to encourage or even prescribe certain outcomes. We will participate in the upcoming process in good faith and seek a workable outcome.
NATIONAL REGISTRATION TALKS WITH NTC
This week I met with NTC in Melbourne to discuss progression of a National Registration Scheme. Preliminary work in this area has indicated that there are significant barriers to achieving the desired outcome of a uniform national scheme. It is unlikely that the differences in CTP, stamp duty and concessions across states can be resolved any time soon and so a single system is realistically many years away.
One thing that we really do need to avoid is any type of proposal that would add another layer of red tape. Some options under consideration might result in an outcome where you first register your vehicle with the NHVR and then have to apply to your state for a refund for any concessions etc that might apply – effectively a two-step process.
While re-plating all the current vehicles with a national plate will look impressive, it really won’t do anything to improve your business. The real benefits would come from a simpler online rego system, a more secure income stream or the NHVR, comprehensive system updates across jurisdictions in real time (e.g. defect clearances, NHVAS accreditation updates) and better fleet data being available to the NHVR for compliance and enforcement purposes.
Overall, I must say I’m becoming a little sceptical about the prospect of a true national system. More realistically, the best that might be achieved in the short term is better information sharing between existing state systems – something that all governments should be striving to achieve already without charging industry for the privilege.
CATCHING UP WITH OUR NATIONAL SPONSORS
This week while in Melbourne the ALRTA Vice President, Graeme Hoare, and I dropped in to discuss our activities with two of our national sponsors – PACCAR and Cummins. At PACCAR we met with Neil Willox, Andrew Mills and Natalie Caia. At Cummins we met with Col Baker.
Given the huge level of support that these sponsors have given to our association over the long-term it is vitally important that we let them know how their support is translating into a better operating environment for our members. As Neil has often said ‘We don’t want to just keep the lights on’.
There was much to discuss with the ALRTA actively progressing issues on a number of fronts including: NHVR consultation arrangements; ramps; roadworthiness; access; fatigue; chain of responsibility; effluent; facility opening hours; charging; industrial relations; registration; braking standards and accident responses. It was also timely to discuss preparations for our national conference 3-4 July 2015 at which we traditionally host a dinner for our major supporters.
ALRTA NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETS
Our National Council met in Melbourne on Friday this week. Major issues discussed included: ALRTA headquarters; NHVR operations; charging; effluent; NTC projects; braking standards and national conference. Our next meeting and AGM is scheduled for 3 July 2105.
UPDATE ON ALRTA NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
Building work has commenced in earnest to prepare our two vacant units for occupation. Our tenant for the next five years intends to operate a fitness facility which opens early and closes late so we have been very particular about ensuring that the fit-out has excellent sound-dampening properties. We have obtained professional advice on this matter and I can tell you that the measures have had a dramatic impact even at this early stage.
All going well the premises will be handed over for occupation on 1 May 2015. The endeavour will establish a new income stream for the ALRTA that will significantly improve our financial sustainability and help to support our efforts to improve safety and productivity in our sector.
ALRTA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ON LEAVE
Members are advised that I will be on leave 20-24 April 2015. For urgent enquiries please contact the ALRTA office.