Weekly news – ALRTA responds to NTC CoR Duties review, Fuel tax rate increase

ALRTA RESPONDS TO NTC CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILTY DUTIES REVIEW

The ALRTA has made a submission in response to a NTC Discussion Paper on Primary Duties for Chain of Responsibility Parties and Executive Officer Liability.  We have worked closely with the ATA to develop an agreed industry response which supports a switch to a primary duty of care on all chain parties – similar to the duties that already apply to all businesses under work health and safety laws (WH&S).

This will mean that all chain parties will need to take proactive efforts to identify and address safety risks rather than paying attention only after an accident occurs.

Innocent until Proven Guilty

One of the big changes that is likely to occur is that the deeming provisions and reverse onus of proof will be removed.  Basically, you will be presumed innocent, rather than presumed guilty – a fundamental tenant of Australian law in most sectors.

However, the move away from being deemed guilty will necessitate several other changes to re-balance the laws. Prosecutors will need more evidence to prove their case and so they will also need new investigation powers.  Penalties are also likely to increase in line with those accepted under WH&S laws.

The ALRTA has argued that industry will need an opportunity to consider any changes to investigation powers to make sure that they do not over-step the mark.  We have also asked the NTC to have regard for the impact of increased penalties on small to medium transport operators that make up the bulk of the industry.

Specific Concerns about Effluent

The ALRTA’s submission primarily focusses on law reform necessary to enhance the capacity of enforcement authorities to prosecute chain parties for effluent related load restraint breaches.

It is widely recognised that the primary mechanism for reducing effluent production in transit is the application of appropriate livestock feed and water curfews prior to loading. But as we all know, livestock carriers are being held solely and unfairly responsible for the acts and omissions of other parties in the supply chain – namely, the person or entity responsible for preparing livestock for transport.

The intent of the HVNL is clear.  Animals are defined as ‘goods’ under the law and effluent loss is dealt with as a load restraint breach.  The chain of responsibility was fundamentally designed to ensure that any party in a position to control or influence on-road behaviour is identified and held accountable – so why is this not happening for effluent?

We are advised that the main barrier to prosecution under the current laws is the uncertainty about whether or not a person preparing animals for transport is a party in the chain of responsibility as defined under the HVNL.

Our submission to the NTC argues strongly for changes to the construct of the definition of consignor and packer to remove any doubt.

We are also working with the NTC to clarify the responsibilities of persons preparing livestock for transport under the Load Restraint Guide.  While the guide does contain a specific section on ‘live loads’ it does not address effluent.

Together, these initiatives will create a more certain environment in which all persons in the livestock supply chain understand their responsibilities and can be held to account if their business practices cause a breach of the HVNL.

FUEL TAX RATE INCREASE

As a result of fuel tax indexation, the fuel tax credit rate for fuel purchased for on-road use in eligible heavy vehicles increased from 12.76 cents per litre to 13.06 cents per litre on 1 August 2015. The fuel tax credit rate for powering auxiliary equipment also increased, from 38.9 cents per litre to 39.2 cents per litre.

Operators will need to claim different fuel tax credit rates for fuel acquired before and from this date. The ATO recommends that all operators use their online Fuel tax credit calculator to get fuel tax credit rates correct for your BAS. The calculator is also available on the ATO app. To find out more about these changes, visit the ATO’s fuel schemes rates page.

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