Weekly News – 4 December 2015

PACCAR TO CONTINUE AS A NATIONAL SPONSOR IN 2016

The ALRTA is delighted to announce that the PACCAR and Dealer Industry Group will continue sponsorship of our National and State Associations during 2016.

PACCAR’s support helps us to deliver an ambitious policy program on behalf of our members.  So you can thank PACCAR for things like the 160km work diary radius exemption, the fortnightly AFM template and the ABS exemption for stock trailers.

We reckon that more than half of our members drive a Kenworth or DAF truck.  Please continue to support PACCAR in 2016 by proudly using their quality products or maybe considering a switch to a PACCAR truck on your next purchase.

THE FUTURE OF HEAVY VEHICLE CHARGES REVEALED

The longer-term game plan on heavy vehicle charging was revealed in the Australian Parliament this week.

In short, it is now clear that charges will remain frozen at the current level pending a transition to a user-pay system based on telematics by 2017-18.

The information was revealed by the Federal Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, as part of the Australian Government’s response to the Harper Review’s Recommendation on Road Pricing.

The Harper Review was a comprehensive review of competition policy which reported to government on 31 March 2015.

While this gives us a lot more certainty about the future of charging, it doesn’t come as a surprise.

In response to the 6 November 2015 decision of Australian Transport Ministers to continue over-charging the heavy vehicle sector by more than half a billion dollars over the next two years, the ALRTA National President, Kevin Keenan, said that:

“I have lost confidence that Governments will ever fix this problem.  We have already had a two year delay and that has just been followed by yet another two year delay”.

“It is no secret that Governments are actively working on a mass-distance-location charging system and moving to a forward looking cost base.  The persistent over-charging will just be used as leverage to push us into a more complex charging scheme.”

“This whole exercise just illustrates just how important it will be to have a truly independent charges determination process when we inevitably move to some form of user-pay charging mechanism”.

Crucially, the Australian Government has committed to an independent price setting mechanism as part of the reform.  Under the current system, the NTC calculates the required charges and makes a recommendation to Ministers.  In practice, this has meant that higher charges are passed on immediately, but the influence of Federal and State Treasurers prevents any savings from ever reaching operators.

While this kind of rorting should not occur under an independent price setting mechanism, a move to a ‘forward looking cost base’ might make it possible for governments to simply ‘pump up the numbers’ with new (and possibly marginal) projects to prevent costs from ever coming down.

For this reason, the ALRTA will be pushing to ensure that any independent regulator will have strong powers to scrutinise input costs provided by governments and to audit actual project costs.

VOLUNTARY ELECTRONIC WORK DIARIES BY 2017

Paper-based work diaries are still the primary means of recording your work and rest times.  However, the ALRTA is expecting that EWDs will become a viable alternative from 2017.

EWD trials have been progressing for some years.  In September this year, the Heavy Vehicle National Law was amended to establish a legal framework under which the NHVR could approve the use of EWDs as an alternative to the paper diaries.

Over the next 2 years, Transport Certification Australia (TCA) will be working with the NHVR, state regulators and police to develop and trial EWD technical specifications.  There won’t be just one EWD system – there will be a general performance standard that can be met by any technology provider.  It is possible that some systems already in use by transport operators will meet the standard.

If successful, it is estimated that there will be around $200m in savings for transport operators, EWD system managers and authorities over five years.

I know that there are mixed views in the livestock and rural sector about the implementation of EWDs, with particular concerns about the possibility of increased exposure to enforcement actions.  At this stage, the government has given assurances that the EWD technology will not be mandatory – it will just be available for voluntary adoption by those who want to use it.

But let’s not kid ourselves here.  Technology is going to play an increasingly important role in the transport sector over time.  This week’s statement by the Australian Government that we will have telematics-based charging devices in heavy vehicles from 2017-18 is going to set up a key plank of a platform of which EWDs can eventually be a part.

The convergence of the charging and EWD timeframes around 2017 is unlikely to be a coincidence.

My prediction is that the first step towards mandatory use of EWDs will be a requirement to use them as part of an otherwise voluntary program such as NHVAS.  Once every truck has a telematics device, and every NHVAS trucks has an EWD, the leap to a full-blown electronic system that encompasses charging, enforcement and data collection for network planning will be irresistible from a government perspective.

WORKING DOGS – USE THEM WISELY

Well trained working dogs can be a great asset for anyone handling livestock.  However, there are laws around their use as well as changing community expectations for good practice.

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport of Livestock are now law (or will soon become law) in all states and territories.  There are several relevant mandatory standards to keep in mind:

A person in charge must ensure that a dog is under control at all times during loading, transporting and unloading livestock.

A transporter must ensure that a dog is not transported in the same pen as livestock, with the exception of bonded guardian dogs.

A person in charge must ensure that a dog that habitually bites deer, goats, horses, pigs, poultry, sheep or emus and ostriches is muzzled if working these species.

In addition, similar standards under development for cattle will require that:

A person in charge must ensure a dog is muzzled when moving calves less than 30 days old that are without cows.

The RSPCA has also issued a national policy which states that muzzles should not be used as a routine management procedure (because they restrict dogs’ natural behaviour) and should be based on the behaviour of each individual dog.  The RSPCA states that when muzzles are used, they must:

  • only be worn for short periods of time where the dog is under constant supervision;
  • be properly fitted to ensure they do not cause injury, pain or distress;
  • allow the dog to undertake normal activities such as panting and drinking (the only exception is muzzles used for veterinary clinical examinations).

The RSPCA also prefers that dogs are not used at all in confined spaces such as crates and yards because of the high stress this can cause to livestock and increased risk of injury to the working dog.

Your use of working dogs is on display whenever you are at a public place such as a farm, saleyard or abattoir.  Making sure you are aware of the law and emerging community attitudes will help to protect the reputation of your company and that of the livestock transport sector.

ATA RELEASES UPDATED TRUCK AND DOG STABILITY GUIDE

The Australian Trucking Association has published a revised and updated version of its truck and dog Technical Advisory Procedure, which provides best practice advice for achieving dynamic stability with these combinations.

ATA Chief Executive Christopher Melham said vehicle stability was a key safety issue for all trucking operators, but little guidance was available for optimising truck and dog combinations.

“Under the Australian Design Rules, the truck and towed dog trailer are assessed as two separate vehicles, which may then be put together into a truck and dog combination,” Mr Melham said.

“While completely legal, this means that operators may not receive guidance on how they can optimise the safety and stability of these combinations.

“This advisory procedure provides step-by-step instructions and formulas to help operators improve the overall performance, dynamic stability and safety of their truck and dog combinations.

“The formulas cover five different common truck and dog combinations between 42.5 and 50 tonne Gross Combination Mass. In general, the formulas promote longer wheelbases for both the truck and trailer, reducing coupling offset, and lowering the combination’s centre of gravity.”

The advisory procedure was developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council, which includes operators and suppliers with leading expertise in truck technology.

This is the latest in the ATA’s series of technical advisory procedures, which provide best practice guidance for trucking operators, maintainers and suppliers about key technical issues. The procedures are available for free from the ATA’s online resource library.

SUPER STREAM: MAKING SUPER SIMPLE FOR THE ROAD FREIGHT INDUSTRY

Are your employees all with the same superannuation fund? If not, you know all about paying contributions to multiple accounts. The ATO’s new SuperStream standard will save you hours of paperwork.

What is SuperStream?

SuperStream is a new electronic process that enables business owners and managers to bundle all employees’ super payments and employee information into one electronic transaction – saving time and money.

SuperStream set up will require some initial effort however, once complete, it is simple to use each reporting period.

How do I implement SuperStream?

  1. Ask employees for required information. You’ll need their tax file numbers and a ‘unique super identifier’ from their super funds
  2. Make a decision as to how you’ll access SuperStream: your fund’s online system, a super clearing house or your payroll system
  3. Enter employees’ information into the system
  4. Use SuperStream to pay super.

If you require extra information and assistance, the ATO will next week be holding a dedicated SuperStream how-to webinar for the road freight industry and a step-by-step checklist can be found at www.ato.gov.au/SuperStreamChecklist

What are the benefits?

SuperStream will simplify the way you pay your superannuation. Though the initial set-up may take some time, it will ultimately save you time and money by making the superannuation payment process more efficient.

Once you have input your employees’ information, you will be able to make all your super contributions at once in just a few clicks. In fact, some employers have told us SuperStream has cut down super admin time by around 70%, saving around 1.5 hours per payment cycle.

Here are some comments from road freight and transport business owners who have already adopted SuperStream:

When do I have to be ready?

If you have 19 or fewer employers you must be using SuperStream by 30 June 2016 however now is the time to get ready.

Those with 20 or more employees should be SuperStream-ready now.

Using SuperStream is now mandatory with over 350,000 employers nationwide, including 250,000 small employers, already making the switch and experiencing the benefits.

SuperStream really is making super simple.

For more information

Web:    www.ato.gov.au/superstream and www.ato.gov.au/SuperStreamFAQS

Phone: ATO Super Advice Hotline 13 10 20 (8am – 6pm, Mon – Fri, except public holidays).

UNSW TO TRIAL NEW SAFETY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

Researchers at the University of NSW have developed a program for improving safety management specifically for the trucking industry.   The program was based on the results of research on what characteristics distinguish companies with low from higher insurance claims.

The program is ready for trail in real world conditions and UNSW is now looking for companies that operate fleets of approximately 10-50 trucks to take part.

The project team will visit your company to look at what you do now, and what you could do in future.  Data will be collected before and after the trial to measure the effect.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Lori Mooren on 0421 888 290 or lori.mooren@unsw.edu.au.

ALRTA EXECUTIVE MEETS

The ALRTA Executive met via teleconference this week.  As usual there were plenty of important issues to consider relating to the operation of the National Secretariat, sponsors and our policy agenda.

Some of the important policy issues discussed included: effluent; vehicle emissions; permits; opening hours and ramp standards.

NOTICE OF ALRTA COUNCIL MEETING

Members are advised that the ALRTA National Council will next meet in Canberra on Friday, 29 January 2016.  If you would like to raise any issues for discussion, please contact your state association.  If you would like to observe the National Council meeting, please contact the ALRTA National Secretariat.

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