ALRTA News – 16 September 2016

HVNL AMENDMENT BILL INTRODUCED INTO QLD PARLIAMENT

On 13 September 2016, the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced into Queensland Parliament.

This bill is an important development for the ALRTA because it includes the comprehensive changes that we have sought to chain of responsibility laws to better hold off-road parties responsible for matters such as effluent containments and loading infrastructure.  However, it also includes some changes that we might not support.   Some of the key changes include:

  • A new primary duty to ensure safety for all parties in the chain;
  • Modifications to executive officer liabilities based on due diligence;
  • Replacement of the ‘reasonable steps defence’ with ‘as far as reasonably practicable’;
  • A principle that parties are included in the chain on the basis of their function rather than their title or contractual description;
  • Clarity that WH&S law takes precedence over CoR law;
  • Inclusion of roadworthiness and vehicles standards as part of CoR;
  • Increasing information gathering powers;
  • Introduction of self-clearing defect notices;
  • New requirement that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution;
  • Penalties for breaching primary duties of up to $3m and/or 5 years imprisonment;
  • Empowering the NHVR to accept enforceable undertakings as an alternative to penalties;
  • Recognising industry codes of practice as a reliable form of evidence in court;
  • Establishing that information contained in an infringement notice is evidence that a heavy vehicle offence happened a time, place and in the circumstances outlined in the notice;
  • Introduction of a raft of new offences that will make operators and other parties in the chain responsible for ensuring that drivers carry all required paperwork;
  • Allowing the NHVR to make minor changes to statutory instruments without seeking road manager consent;
  • Allowing Ministers to delegate minor approval powers to the NHVR Board.

There are a zillion other little amendments that will need to be examined and compared with the current law to fully understand with actual implications.

The Queensland Parliament Transportation and Utilities Committee has invited submissions on the Bill by 28 September 2016.  The ALRTA will seek advice on the amendments and make representations as necessary.

OMBUDSMAN REPORTS ON EFFECT OF RSRT

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has this week completed the Inquiry into the effect of the RSRT Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016.

The ALRTA made a very detailed and comprehensive submission to this Inquiry – we do not EVER want to see the RSRT or anything like it return in future!

A report has been prepared and formally delivered to the Federal Minister for Small Business, the Hon Michael McCormack MP.  The report was tabled in the Federal Parliament.  Let’s hope the NSW Government and NSW Industrial Relations Commission is taking note.

Here is the accompanying press release outlining the report’s findings (article below).

RSRT PAYMENTS ORDER STRESSFUL AND DISCRIMINATORY TOWARDS OWNER-TRUCKIES

Small business owner-truck drivers impacted by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) Payments Order suffered significant financial and emotional distress as a result of the now defunct Order, according to the findings of an inquiry undertaken by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell.

The ASBFEO was instructed by the Small Business Minister in May, to undertake the inquiry looking into the ramifications of the Order for small businesses.

Ms Carnell said the inquiry drew on industry feedback, written and verbal submissions from owner-truck drivers and incorporated evidence from community forums held around the country.

“The stories we heard were heart-breaking; fundamentally what we found was the Order caused significant financial and emotional distress for small business owner-drivers; many lost work, resulting in a loss of income that impacted not only on their business, but their entire family,” Ms Carnell said.

“Tragically, the inquiry also heard evidence that a small number of people found the Order compounded their mental health battles and financial difficulties to the extent that they took their own lives, so it’s our strong recommendation that mental health implications be considered when regulation like this is developed in the future.

“While the Order was only operational for a short time, some businesses continue to struggle in its aftermath, with many unable to secure work again due to the uncertainty and confusion the complex Order created within the industry,” she said.

Ms Carnell said given the Payments Order only set minimum rates of pay for owner-drivers, it was found to have had a discriminatory impact on mum-and-dad operators.

“These pay rates did not apply to big business logistics companies with employed drivers; only mum-and-dad owner-operators were impacted by the Order.  This of course created an unfair system whereby small business drivers weren’t able to compete on a level playing field,” Ms Carnell said.

“To suggest that road safety will improve by implementing a payments system that only affects owner-operators, not the big companies, is extremely misguided; road safety is an issue for all drivers.

“We found no evidence that owner-operators are less safe than employed drivers.  In fact, evidence shows that the number of accidents involving trucks has decreased, and many of the accidents that do occur, are the fault of motor vehicles,” she said.

Ms Carnell said the ASBFEO inquiry also investigated the conduct of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, and found it was overly legalistic and adversarial in its operation.

“For many owner-drivers, this was their first experience with this kind of process; they were unaware of proper procedures, and as a result were unprepared for what followed,” Ms Carnell said.

“I’ve been around business and politics for a lot of years and I have never encountered anything like these tribunal hearings. Some of the stories of those involved in the Tribunal were certainly eye-opening; a lack of respect for owner-drivers, unreasonable treatment of people who were not lawyers or barristers, and not listening to people who were just telling their story simply because they didn’t say it in legalese, were just a few of the observations relayed to us.

“It was obvious through the evidence that we gathered, that tribunals like this aren’t the answer when it comes to developing regulation of this kind, and that the development and implementation of future regulation – by any government agency – that impacts on small business, should involve extensive consultation with the sector,” she said.

A copy of the report is available here.

HAVE YOUR CONSIDERED AFM?

Last month, the NHVR released the second AFM template for livestock and rural carriers which allows up to 15 ½ hrs or work time in a single work opportunity on a non-consecutive basis (i.e. to be followed by a 12hr work day).

This comes in addition to template 1 that allows a fortnightly work cycle. Together, the templates can provide accredited operators with much needed flexibility in their operations.

I know that for many years AFM has just been too hard for most.  However, the release of these pre-approved templates has made applying for AFM much cheaper and much easier.  You do not have to prove that the system is safe, you just need to show that you can follow the system outlined in the template – and if you already have BFM it is not a big leap to an AFM template.

Information about the Livestock Transport Fatigue Management Scheme is available here.

SEE A SIDE LOADING FRAME IN ACTION

Have you heard about the new ProWay Crate P.A.L. side loading frame?  It can really make your unloading task far safer and more efficient.  Check out a special video featuring John Beer that is now posted on the ALRTA website.

2017 CONFERENCE DATES

Next year, our National Conference will be hosted by LRTAQ in Toowoomba, QLD, 16-18 February 2017.   Planning is already underway and we look forward to bringing you another great program of speakers, opportunities to have your say, and social events.

Some of our states have also locked in their dates for 2017:

  • LBCA: 31 March – 1 April 2017 – Dubbo, NSW.
  • LRTASA: 16-17 June – Adelaide, SA.

STAFF CHANGES IN THE NATIONAL OFFICE

The ALRTA is excited to advise members of the new staffing arrangements in our National Office.

The new team is:

  • Executive Director – Mathew Munro
  • Finance Manager – Jack Evans
  • Marketing Manager – Tanya Ballat
  • National Officer – Colleen Mays

Tanya re-joins our team, but this time around she is working exclusively for the ALRTA.  The position is now focussed only on our national sponsors, raising the profile of the national association and delivering promotions/benefits that attract grass-roots members across all states.

Colleen is our first ‘National Officer’ – a new role that combines administrative, research and policy functions.  Colleen was raised in rural NSW and has previously worked with Animal Health Australia, in the Federal public service and at deputy-director level at Engineers Australia.

Please make our new team members feel welcome! I am confident that the new staffing arrangements will support the delivery of even better outcomes for member operators around the country.

REMINDER: RECRUIT A MATE

Time is running out to get your $350 rewards pack!  All you need to do is help sign up a new member to one of our six fabulous state associations.

We already have 34 new members signed up, with just 16 reward packs still available to 5 October 2016. Here are the details once again.

If you recruit a mate to join any one of our family of state associations between 5 August 2016 and 5 October 2016, we will send you a $350 rewards pack that includes:

  • A $100 fuel voucher – thanks to BP;
  • A $100 parts voucher – thanks to PACCAR Parts; and
  • A $150 tyre voucher – thanks to Beaurepaires.
  • And that’s not all – the new member will also receive the same rewards package!

Here’s how it works:

  • You recruit a new member;
  • They fill out an application form, make payment and nominate you as the referrer;
  • You both receive a $350 rewards package in the mail shortly after 5 October 2016.

All members are also eligible to enjoy ongoing benefits such as fuel discounts via the BP network, special tyre offers and extended coverage with NTI insurance products.

You can obtain more information and application forms from our state associationshere.

This offer is strictly limited to the first 50 new members Australia wide.

So, what are you waiting for?

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