Weekly News – 24 June 2016

2016 FEDERAL ELECTION: MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT

There is now just over a week to go until the Federal Election on 2 July 2016.  The result will impact on your road transport business – for better or for worse.

This time around, there is a double dissolution and new voting rules in place.  It is next to impossible to predict the result with any certainty and most polls are forecasting a tight finish.

As always, your vote could be critical.

The ALRTA and our affiliated associations have been monitoring policy announcements and liaising directly with the parties and individual candidates.

We have prepared this election guide to assist you to better understand what the parties are offering your road transport business.  Please take the time to read through this guide and think about how you will exercise your vote on or before 2 July 2016.

THE ALRTA ELECTION STRATEGY

The ALRTA has engaged in a multi-prong lobbying and information sharing campaign in the lead up to the Federal Election. Our activities include:

  • Working with the ATA and COSBOA to agree and investigate key policies of interest;
  • Writing directly to all Labor, Greens and Independent candidates;
  • Meeting key Labor decision makers to discuss the possible return of the RSRT;
  • Funding a marginal seat mail out campaign;
  • Publishing a formal letter from Labor concerning the RSRT and HV Charging;
  • Providing assistance to members to write directly to your local candidates;
  • Producing this election guide; and
  • Issuing a media statement on our considered position.

We trust that these activities will be of assistance to you and will prepare our association for any eventuality following the Federal Election.

KEY TRUCKING ISSUES

The ATA family of associations, including the ALRTA, has prepared a summary report card on key issues relating to the broad themes of:

  1. No Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal;
  2. Practical Safety; and
  3. Strong Trucking Businesses.

We have carefully considered the key policies announced by the Coalition, Labor and Greens in the 2016 Budget and during the election campaign.  Ticks or crosses have been awarded to each party for easy reference.

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What about the Independents?

There are a number of high profile independent candidates also vying for your vote. We worked closely with many of them during our recent campaign to abolish the RSRT.

It is difficult to assess the positions of each candidate on a very broad range of issues, so instead, we offer you this summary showing who helped abolish the RSRT and who is likely to support bringing back something similar.

TABLE 1

KEY SMALL BUSINESS ISSUES

Eligibility for small business taxation and red-tape concessions is an important point of difference between the Coalition and Labor Parties.

Currently, small businesses are defined as those with an annual turnover up to $2m.

The Coalition has promised to lift the threshold definition to an annual turnover of $10m.

This will benefit thousands of small trucking operators because, as ‘high capital – high turnover’ businesses, many genuinely small businesses currently do not qualify for taxation relief or red-tape concessions.

The benefits of being defined as a ‘small business’ include:

  • Taxation rate reduced from 28.5% to 27.5% for incorporated small businesses;
  • Tax discount of 8 per cent for unincorporated small businesses;
  • Small business instant asset write-off up to $20k per item;
  • Simplified BAS; PAYG; & GST accounting;
  • FBT concessions;
  • Immediate deductibility of professional and pre-paid expenses;
  • Rollover of gains/losses when changing legal structure;
  • Period reduced to two years in which tax commissioner can amend tax assessments.

In addition, the Coalition has committed to introducing ‘unfair contracts’ laws (from 12 November 2016) and also an ‘effects test’ to protect small businesses from negative competitive impacts caused by larger businesses.

Labor has not matched these commitments and will leave the turnover threshold and taxation rate unchanged.

ROAD SAFETY REMUNERATION TRIBUNAL

The Coalition Government, with the support of cross-bench Senators, abolished the RSRT and will not bring it back.

Labor will establish a bi-partisan forum to set minimum rates. Beyond that commitment, it has been unclear what exactly a new rate setting body might look like.

To get a better handle on what direction Labor might take on the issue should they win the election, the ALRTA has met with key Labor decision makers including:

  • The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition – Senator Collins;
  • The Shadow Minister for Employment – Brendan O’Connor; and
  • The Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure – Anthony Albanese.

Certainly, these influential decision makers openly acknowledge that the 2016 Payments Order did not work and that the Tribunal, and those leading the Tribunal, acted unfairly and inappropriately.

It would appear unlikely that Labor would simply re-introduce the same legislation that established the RSRT. However, a ‘tribunal style’ model remains a likely outcome.

While the ALRTA continues to oppose the concept of minimum rates, we have nonetheless started a discussion with Labor about the fundamental flaws in the previous system and offered a range of suggestions that aim to reduce negative impacts and build in appropriate checks and balances.

We have received a firm commitment that the ALRTA would be invited to participate in any new process to re-introduce minimum rates and that our proposals are sensible and would be considered.

It is also worth noting that some individual Greens candidates are generally supportive of our suggestions.

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ANIMAL WELFARE
Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, has made it very clear over the past several years that he strongly supports the live export trade.  While the Minister takes animal welfare violations seriously and addresses them immediately as they arise, he is opposed to knee-jerk blanket market closures.

On the other hand, Labor have previously closed export markets.  In a recent policy announcement, Labor have committed to:

  • Establish an independent Office of Animal Welfare;
  • Appoint an independent Inspector-General of Animal Welfare;
  • Renew the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy; and
  • Review the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme.

The Labor policy is strongly endorsed by animal activist groups who oppose industrial animal production and the live export trade.

The Labor policy has been rejected by the NFF and the Institute of Public Affairs on the basis that it increases red-tape without recognising that good welfare outcomes are already a fundamental part of well-designed livestock production systems.

The ALRTA is supportive of a national approach to animal welfare issues, however we believe that this can be achieved via the Federal Department of Agriculture coordinating a national strategy, rather than establishing an new ‘RSRT style’ authority for animal welfare.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The ALRTA is an apolitical national association.  We work with political parties of all persuasions.

We will not tell you how to vote.

However, we are of the opinion that the overall policy mix offered by the Liberal-National Coalition, if delivered, would result in a superior operating environment for rural transport operators, particularly if you are:

  • An owner driver;
  • A businesses with a turnover between $2m – $10m; or
  • A businesses involved in the live export supply chain.

There are of course many other issues such as: health; education; communications; environment; defense and the state of the Federal Budget.

We expect that you will take all of these issues into account when you are allocating your vote on or before 2 July 2016.

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