Weekly News – Fortnightly cycles? COR Policy Paper

RATHER WORK A FORTNIGHTLY CYCLE?

Would you like to have the option of working a fortnightly cycle?  It’s easier than you might think.

Earlier this year, the NHVR and ALRTA worked together to establish the Livestock Transport Fatigue Management Scheme (LTFMS).  Importantly, anyone can apply – it’s not just for livestock.

The scheme is based on an AFM template that allows accredited drivers to work 14hr days each day over a fortnightly cycle with ‘risk-offsetting’ restrictions around driving between midnight and 4am.  Drivers will have flexibility around when they can take a minimum of two 24hr breaks over a 14 day period – either together or separately.

There is an implementation guide which outlines a step by step process for obtaining AFM accreditation under the scheme including all the necessary policies, procedures and forms on which operators can base their application.

AFM template applications are dramatically faster and cheaper than the old AFM system.

Why?  Because as a pre-approved template, you do not have to present a safety case to the NHVR.  You simply fill out the paperwork to demonstrate that you can manage the operational risks, pay a nominal application fee and you will be processed in a matter of weeks.

The template package is easy to understand and will be a simple transition for operators already accredited under BFM.  New entrants will be greatly assisted by the implementation guide.

For more information visit the NHVR website:  https://www.nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/fatigue-management/work-and-rest-requirements/livestock-fatigue-scheme

NTC RELEASES CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY POLICY PAPER

Following on from the decision taken at the Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council on 6 November 2015, the NTC has released a policy paper which details how chain of responsibility will be reformed to improve consistency and flexibility.

Copies of the paper can be found here: http://www.ntc.gov.au/about-ntc/news/media-releases/improvements-to-australia-s-chain-of-responsibility-laws-to-make-roads-safer-for-all/

The ALRTA has long supported the proposed changes including:

  • Introduction of a ‘primary duty of care’ on ALL chain parties to ensure the safety of road transport operations;
  • Due diligence obligations for executive officers;
  • Replacement of the ‘reasonable steps’ defence with a ‘reasonably practicable’ test;
  • Enforcement powers extended to reach parties further up the chain; and
  • Increased penalties for serious safety breaches.

However, there is one glaring omission in the Policy Paper – there is no specific measure included to improve clarity around the chain parties responsible for preparing live animals for road transport.  This is urgently required if we are to have any chance of changing the practices of supply chain parties so as to reduce the production of effluent in transit.

Chain of responsibility laws have been around for long enough for us to know that they do not work in this area.  While many drivers and operators have been fined for effluent loss, there has not been a single prosecution of any other party in the chain.  Not one.

Enforcement authorities tell us this is because the law is not clear.

After taking legal advice on the matter, the ALRTA has proposed to the NTC that an example be included in the definition of ‘packer’ to put the matter beyond doubt.  This would not change the law, but it would greatly improve clarity around the issue.

President Keenan and I met with the NTC on this matter in Melbourne this week. NTC confirmed that the change is not being proposed – because apparently it was not supported by the jurisdictions.

I have since spoken with bureaucrats in key jurisdictions and I can’t find anyone opposed to improving clarity in the law.  I have also met with Advisers to Deputy Prime Minister Truss who can see the logic in improving clarity.  We have even supplied written letters of support from NHVR, VicPol, ATA and the TWU – yet the resistance remains.

The definition of packer already includes two other examples which are included for the sake of clarity (filling a tanker with a hose, and placing packaging around the outside of goods).  The NTC is not proposing to remove these, and therefore accepts that examples are indeed useful –even under a ‘primary duty of care’ regime.

When there is such clear evidence of a long-running problem in successfully applying chain of responsibility laws in the livestock sector, it boggles the mind why the NTC, or any enforcement authority for that matter, would not take the opportunity to improve clarity around this matter.

The ALRTA will continue to press for the clarity we need via the bureaucracy, political process and/or legislative implementation processes.

CONTINUING THE FIGHT FOR REASONABLE OPENING HOURS

This ALRTA is continuing to work with the Federal Department of Agriculture to seek more reasonable opening hours at registered live export facilities.

Several premises in SE Australia are keeping strict 6am – 6pm opening hours which prevents long distance drivers from loading at first light and unloading upon arrival.  A narrow window also causes problems for short distance drivers who can’t quite fit in multiple deliveries – even though Standard and BFM hours allow.

At the heart of the problem is animal welfare.  Sheep exported to the middle east cannot be on a truck longer than 14hrs.  So if a driver arrives after 6pm there is a good chance that load will become illegal.  We would ideally like to see opening hours extended to midnight during the 2-3 day accumulation period.

In response to our concerns, the Federal Department has written to registered premises and the exporters who use them.  Further information was subsequently requested via the Department.  After consideration by the ALRTA National Animal Welfare Committee we have made a further submission this week and have sought a meeting with the Australian Live Exporters Council.

ATA TO DEVELOP BEST-PRACTICE CONTRACTS LIST

The ATA will develop guidance for trucking operators and their customers to help ensure contracts are fair and meet all legal requirements. The decision responds to the lengthening payment terms faced by many trucking businesses, as well as concerns that many smaller trucking businesses feel they lack the power to negotiate balanced contracts with their customers.

To develop the checklist, the ATA will ask trucking operators to nominate the contract areas that they find especially problematic. The ATA will also establish a new business standards reference group to provide detailed advice on contract and commercial practices in the industry. The ATA will also lobby the Australian Government to improve the availability of information about the RSRT and ACCC requirements for trucking operators, including the requirements of the unfair contracts legislation that will come into effect next year. The decision to develop the guidance material was made at the ATA Council meeting last week. It will be launched at Trucking Australia 2016.

ALRTA PRESENTS TO PACCAR DEALER EXECUTIVE

This week President Keenan and I made a presentation to the PACCAR Dealer Executive at the Kenworth factory in Bayswater, Victoria.

PACCAR have been a long-term national sponsor of the ALRTA and our state associations.  The purpose of the presentation was to seek a commitment to ongoing sponsorship in 2016 and to progress a new arrangement with PACCAR Parts.

It was great to have an opportunity to meet the PACCAR Executive and to explain the value proposition that we can offer to PACCAR from a marketing perspective, as well as the great policy outcomes we have delivered for our members in the last 12 months (e.g. National ramps guide, AFM templates, 160km radius exemption, ABS exemption, truckCare merger, LivestockASSIST etc – the list goes on!).

We hope to have a further announcement next week.

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