ALRTA News 30 September 2016

ALRTA WELCOMES NEW FEDERAL ROAD FUNDING PROGRAMME

The ALRTA has welcomed the establishment of the $360m Northern Australian Road Programme.   The Programme is an 80:20 funding partnership between the Federal Government and the Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory Governments.

ALRTA National President Kevin Keenan said that the new Programme will help support further economic development of the rural sector in northern Australia.

‘Improved road transport connectivity is the key to developing the northern areas of Australia. Our communities in this part of our vast country rely more heavily on primary industries such as agriculture because there are so few other viable options’, said President Keenan.

‘To be successful, remote northern communities need reliable and efficient roads to connect them with markets and opportunities elsewhere in Australia or internationally’, he said.

‘I thank the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, and the Federal Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, the Hon Darren Chester MP for establishing the new Programme.  Quite obviously, both of these politicians deeply appreciate the value of road infrastructure for supporting the development of our rural communities,’ said President Keenan.

Representatives from LRTAQ and LRTAWA participated in roundtable forums held earlier in the year to assist in targeting the new investment.

Key projects in Qld include:

  • Over $33 million for two projects along the Flinders Highway, one between Townsville and Torrens Creek and the other between Charters Towers and Richmond
  • Close to $43 million for works on the Kennedy Developmental Road
  • Close to $5 million for intersection upgrades on the Barkly Highway in Mount Isa
  • $60 million for expansion of the Capricorn Highway between Rockhampton and Gracemere

NT projects include:

  • Close to $8 million to seal 8.4km of an unsealed section of Tjukaruru Road
  • $20 million to upgrade sections of unsealed sections of the Plenty Highway to a two-lane sealed standard, including flood immunity works, as well as sealing further sections of the highway
  • Close to $40 million for upgrades of the Keep River Plains Road to support Project Sea Dragon and the development of Ord Stage 3
  • Over $62 million to upgrade the Arnhem Highway, to improve flood immunity at the Adelaide River floodplain
  • Over $360 million is being rolled out for new road upgrade projects in northern Australia, with $130 million being invested in the first four Northern Australia Roads Programme projects in the Northern Territory

WA projects include:

  • Over $24 million to widen an 18.6km section of the Great Northern Highway – Wyndham Spur Stage 2
  • Over $20 million to improve the road alignment and build new passing lanes on the Maggie’s Jump Up section of the Great Northern Highway
  • Over $43.5 million to realign and rebuild a section of Marble Bar Road that passes through Coongan Gorge

LIVESTOCK AND RURAL INDUSTRY OPERATIONS GROUP

The NHVR Livestock and Rural Industry Operations Group met in Brisbane on Friday last week.

The group meets with senior NHVR management twice a year and is made up of the ALRTA President, Executive Director and Presidents (or President’s representative) of our state associations.

The main topics of discussion included: AFM templates; expiry of key notices; low volume access arrangements; industry codes of practice; bobtail driving; online permit applications and 20m b-doubles.

The meeting was highly productive with several actions arising that will assist us in improving your operating conditions.

ALRTA SUBMISSION TO QLD TRANSPORT AND UTILITIES COMMITTEE 

The ALRTA has made a submission to the QLD Transport and Utilities Committee which is currently considering the HVNL and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.

ALRTA has also contributed to the development of a separate ATA submission.

Both submissions are generally supportive of the Bill which promise to dramatically improve the effectiveness of chain of responsibility laws and enable registered industry codes of practice to be more readily recognised in court.

ALRTA was initially concerned about the apparent presence of raft of new paperwork offences in the amendment Bill, however, these actually represent re-wording of requirements that are already in the HVNL.

NEW CONTRACT CHECKLIST AND UNFAIR CONTRACTS INFORMATION

Many operators in the rural supply chain do not use written contracts.  If you were offered a written contract tomorrow, would you know what to look for?  How would you know if it was fair or if it exposed you to excessive risk or liabilities?

To assist our members who do encounter written contracts of carriage, the ALRTA has released a contract checklist and information about the new protections for small businesses against unfair terms in standard form contracts.

The checklist and information are only available to members of ATA member associations like the ALRTA.

The checklist provides members and their legal advisers with information about the contract issues they should consider before they sign. It covers issues such as:

  • Heavy Vehicle National Law and WA chain of responsibility contract requirements;
  • pricing and payment terms;
  • liability for consequential loss;
  • indemnities, limitation and release clauses;
  • force majeure……and more.

The checklist will be updated regularly.

The new protections for small businesses against unfair terms in standard form contracts will come into force on 12 November 2016.

The protections will apply to businesses with fewer than 20 employees that agree to standard form contracts where the upfront price does not exceed either $300,000, or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.

The ACCC has published excellent general information about the protections, but this exclusive information focuses specifically on the terms that are commonly found in trucking industry contracts.

The information is essential for any small trucking business that is considering signing a standard form contract, and for larger trucking businesses that are looking to review their standard form contracts comply with the new requirements.

The contract checklist and unfair contracts information are general in nature and cannot take your specific business situation into account. They are not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should talk to your legal adviser if you have queries or contact Cooper Grace Ward on (07) 3231 2444.

Download the contract checklist [PDF, 269 KB]
Download the unfair contracts information [PDF, 4 MB]

ARE YOUR DRIVING DAYS NUMBERED?

I continue to be astounded by the rapid rise of driverless vehicle technology in the USA.  If you reckon you’ll still be on the road in 20 years you had better pay attention to what is going on.

Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognised Google’s self-driving software as the ‘driver’ in its fully autonomous test vehicles.  Following on from this development, the US Department of Transportation has now released a policy on automated vehicles that considers four areas:

  • Vehicle performance guidance;
  • Model state policy;
  • Current regulatory tools; and
  • New tools and authorities.

Of course no one can agree on just what a vehicle must be able to do before it can be considered autonomous – but it seems that the writing is already on the wall.

Believe it or not, there are now calls for drivers (the human kind) to be banned from a 241km stretch of the Interstate 5 from Seattle to Vancouver.  The proposal would at first reserve the car pool lane for self-driving vehicles, and then take over the whole road in peak times.

It is obvious that driverless vehicles will be more efficient than human drivers (there is no need for sleep, comfort stops, time with family etc), but if we ever get to a point where new statistics strongly indicate that self-driving vehicles are also far safer than human drivers the road freight game will quite suddenly change dramatically.  It is not that far-fetched to imagine a court demanding to know why a company used a human driver when a safer alternative was available!

Luckily for you, I can’t imagine a self-driving vehicle ever loading a crate of bullocks; managing a tipper the middle of an unfamiliar paddock or securing a large piece of machinery on a low-loader.

But, in the not-too-distant future, don’t be shocked if there is no one to wave to behind the wheel of an oncoming interstate tautliner when you venture onto the major highways.

MORE WILD WEATHER CAUSES ROAD CHAOS 

It never rains – it pours!  This week has seen another bout of wild weather causing road chaos across multiple states, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Several major roads have been closed in sections due to flooding or blockages.  Please check conditions with your local authorities when planning your next trip.

Here are some useful websites that can give you the latest:

QLDDepartment of Transport and Main Roads 13 19 40

https://qldtraffic.qld.gov.au

http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/flood/brochures/flood_watch

SA – Government of South Australia – 1800 018 313

https://alert.sa.gov.au/map

http://www.sa.gov.au/topics/transport-travel-and-motoring/motoring/roads-and-traffic/daily-roadworks-hazards-and-news

http://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/OutbackRoads/_recache

VIC – Vic Roads –

http://traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au

WA – Main Roads Western Australia 138 138

https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/Pages/Alerts.aspx#alerts

https://mrapps.mainroads.wa.gov.au/MRWAPublicMaps

https://twitter.com/WA_Roads

https://twitter.com/Perth_Traffic

NSWLiveTraffic on 132 701

http://livetraffic.com

TAS –  Tasmanian Government

http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/road

http://www.police.tas.gov.au/community-alerts

http://www.alert.tas.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx

NT – Northern Territory Government  ( NTLIS) – 1800 246 199

http://www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/roadreport/obstructions-byregion.jsp

ACT –  Access Canberra 13 22 81

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/roads-paths/act_public_road_closures

REMINDER: NHVR PERMIT APPLICATIONS MOVING ONLINE 

About the Customer Portal

The NHVR’s Customer Portal is the new way for industry to prepare, lodge and track their Access permit applications. It is free for users and businesses to register for the Customer Portal, using a simple sign up process and just a few easy steps to lodge your permit application. [Website link: https://www.nhvr.gov.au/customer-portal]

After consulting with industry reference groups, access permit applications via email and online ‘smart forms’ are planned to be discontinued from 30 September 2016.  The fax and mail channels will remain open and customers will still be able to pay by cheque.

Progress to Date

The AccessCONNECT Program team has worked with stakeholders and industry to create the Customer Portal, and released the product in stages to industry over a 3-month period from beginning of May to end of July 2016. During this staged roll out, over 1,500 Access permit applications were lodged through the Portal, accounting for 20% of all applications. The NHVR fully released the Customer Portal for Access permit applications to all industry on 1st August 2016.  Lodgements through the Customer Portal continue to increase, with 62% in September of all Access permit applications being lodged through the new service.

Benefits of the Customer Portal

The initial review of performance and feedback from customers has been positive:

  • Well-made applications: improved quality of information included in applications when lodged
    • Reduced number of requests for further information due to completed application details
    • Time saved in getting applications to Road Managers to commence assessment quicker
  • Re-using previous application data: ability to re-use vehicle configurations and permit applications
  • Understanding application progress: new Case Tracker – where applications are at in the assessment process
  • Improved routing capability: a new and improved integrated Route Planner product

The NHVR would like to see as many applications as possible lodged through the Customer Portal to start streamlining the processing of Access permit applications and ensure better quality information is provided for consent processing.

For further information on the Customer Portal or AccessCONNECT Program, please email accessconnect@nhvr.gov.au or phone 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487) standard 1300 call charges apply (check with your phone provider).

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