Weekly News – Ministers urged to make fair decision on charging

MINISTERS URGED TO MAKE FAIR DECISION ON CHARGING

The 4th meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council is scheduled to be held in Adelaide on Friday next week.

We are expecting Ministers to consider a range of important issues at the meeting including proposed changes to chain of responsibility laws, a national roadworthiness strategy and several proposed new NTC projects.

However, the ‘big ticket’ decision relates to heavy vehicle charges from 1 July 2016.

In 2014, the NTC recommended to Ministers that charges be decreased on average by 6.3%. However, Ministers decided to delay implementation until 2016. This has since cost the industry around $200m annually.

Next week, Ministers will again be considering the issue.

This week, the ALRTA has discussed the options being considered by Ministers with the NTC, Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and advisors to the Deputy Prime Minister.

We are urging a return to fair cost recovery from 1 July 2016.

The ALRTA will have more to say on this issue early next week.

ALRTA COUNCIL MEETS IN BRISBANE

The ALRTA National Council met last week in the NTI Boardroom in Brisbane. As usual there was no shortage of important national policy issues to consider including: heavy vehicle charging; the draft Road Safety Remuneration Order; proposals for an operator licensing system and the development of an effluent strategy.

Representatives from NTI were also in attendance to discuss the impending official launch of LivestockASSIST. Members will have recently received in the mail information on the scheme as well as a set of stickers for the inside windscreen and outside of the vehicle. In the near future will be sending you additional information packs based upon the number of vehicles in your fleet. The official launch will occur in mid-November.

ALRTA – NHVR EFFLUENT WORKSHOP

Last week ALRTA member operators from around Australia participated in a joint ALRTA-NHVR workshop to cooperatively discuss a national effluent strategy.

Participants considered the ALRTA’s recent legal advice on the matter as well as key research reports and a comprehensive scheme already in place in Waikato NZ. While all parties agree that drivers, operators, animal depot operators, producers and persons preparing animals for transport are captured by chain of responsibility laws, there are still many key challenges in the Australian context.

Enforcing chain of responsibility laws is not entirely straight forward because of uncertainties in the application of feed and water curfews and disclosure of key information throughout the supply chain. Compared with NZ, it is also impractical to require all vehicles to be fitted with tanks because we simply do not have the infrastructure to manage the captured effluent.

Of course it is also important to balance concerns about effluent production, animal welfare and meat quality outcomes.

ALRTA is continuing to work with key stakeholders to clarify chain of responsibility duties, agree on reasonable curfew periods, and develop education materials for supply chain parties and enforcement officers.

You may also be interested to know that the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight has recently announced at an LBCA Heavy Vehicle Forum that resolution of the livestock effluent issue is a key priority. Given the interaction between laws for heavy vehicles, biosecurity, environment and planning it will be necessary to look at the issue from both a state and national perspective.

LIVESTOCK AND RURAL INDUSTRY OPERATIONS GROUP

The NHVR Livestock and Rural Transport Industry Operations Group met for the second time last week. Key topics of discussion related to access and fatigue management.

NHVR has been actively assisting ALRTA members in improving access outcomes in several local council areas around Australia. While this has proven fruitful, it is resource intensive and can only be tackled one council / road at a time. With around 571 local councils around Australia this approach is effectively a never-ending task.

All IOG participants, including the NHVR, recognise that we need a better way. The interaction between decision makers needs to improve so that we reduce duplication of effort and come to some common understandings about how to streamline access decision-making.

In some cases, road authorities have been perpetually issuing permits for the same vehicles, on the same roads, for decades. This sort of practice bogs down the system and consumes resources that could be better applied to assessing more contentious applications.

The NHVR is working hard on a new access strategy. We hope that the IOG discussions are useful in shining a light on the types of problems are encountered by industry and also the perspectives of state and local road authorities that we deal with.

We have also commenced discussions with the NHVR about the possibility of a single national harvest mass management scheme.

Work has commenced on two new AFM templates for livestock and rural transporters. These templates will give an even greater level of flexibility for operators than the first ‘fortnightly cycle’ template already released this year.

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