ALRTA News – 10 August 2018

GREEN LIGHT FOR ROADSIDE EFFLUENT DISPOSAL FACILITY

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has secured $400,000 as part of the Australian Government’s 2018-19 Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative program, to construct and operate a roadside livestock effluent disposal facility.

ALRTA National President, Mr Kevin Keenan, welcomed the announcement saying, “This funding cements an industry-government partnership that will establish Australia’s first roadside effluent disposal facility for livestock carriers.

“Australia’s livestock supply chain will benefit greatly from the project and it will help drivers better comply with legislative requirements to contain effluent.

“Livestock processing facilities in Australia are not required to provide disposal areas for captured effluent and primary producers will not accept it onto their property due to biosecurity concerns.

“Considering this, we need to better manage effluent disposal on public roadways and roadside effluent disposal sites will be welcomed by the industry and other road users.

“We have identified South East Queensland as the ideal pilot site and the project is supported by the Queensland Government.  The facility will be located on the Warrego Highway, servicing more than 20,000 semi-trailer equivalent movements and removing up to 2,500,000 litres of effluent from the road corridor annually.

“Vehicles fitted with effluent capture tanks will be able to enter the site from the adjacent roadway, discharge tanks, and proceed back onto the Warrego Highway in a highly efficient manner. Captured effluent will be redirected for productive purposes such as irrigation, soil composting, worm farms or energy generation.”

Mr Keenan said that once completed the facility will serve as the foundation stone to expand the program in future.

“The longer-term aim is to construct a network of livestock effluent disposal facilities on key livestock transport corridors across Australia and this site is the vital first step towards that goal.

“I thank the Australian Government for supporting this pilot facility.  It will make a real difference for road safety, animal welfare, biosecurity and amenity,” said Mr Keenan.

 

MEETING REGIONAL COUNCILS ON EFFLUENT

The ALRTA Executive Director joined LRTAQ members Ian Wild (LRTAQ President), Fiona Wild, Graeme Hoare, Geoff Dowling and Jarrod Seilers in a series of meetings with Queensland regional councils (RC) to discuss effluent containment.

Over two days we met with Somerset RC, North Burnett RC and South Burnett RC.  In Somerset and South Burnett we were able to deliver a presentation and have open discussion as part of formal Council proceedings with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and all Councillors present.


Photo (L-R): Jarrod Seilers, Fiona Wild, Ian Wild, Graeme Hoare and Mathew Munro at South Burnett Regional Council.

Effluent loss from heavy vehicles is a hot topic in south east QLD with tens of thousands of semi-trailer equivalent movements of livestock annually now needed to service very large feedlots, piggerys and processors in the area.  A practical solution needs to be found to allow the livestock industry and local urban populations to grow side-by-side with minimal conflict.

Some RCs have been threatening fines of up to $70k for inadvertent effluent loss and $200k for deliberate dumping in the road corridor.

Our representatives outlined a strategy which involves encouraging better animal preparation practices, improved disclosure of curfews on NVDs, a common-sense approach to enforcement, development of a code of practice and construction of disposal options within the road corridor.

We were able to clearly demonstrate that livestock carriers are the ‘meat in the sandwich’.  We do not own the effluent and we do not own the roads. Crates must be ventilated to meet requirements under animal welfare laws and capturing effluent in tanks just creates a secondary disposal problem.

The circumstances in every RC are different and this is reflected in the attitudes of Councillors and staff.  Some RCs are major livestock thoroughfares, some are production centres and others host large processors that are significant employers in the region.   Having grown up on a piggery myself, I was particularly taken by the enthusiasm in which Kingaroy is preparing for Baconfest (24-26 August) – right now just about every business and public place has a pig-themed picture, poster or statue on display.

During each meeting we were able to explore:

  • The value of facilitating strong livestock industries;
  • Reasons for localised effluent problems;
  • Alternatives to heavy handed enforcement;
  • The number of vehicles using the main livestock routes and future scenarios;
  • Potential for local disposal sites.

Over the course of each meeting it was clear that attitudes were changing for the better.  These RCs now understand that drivers are not the party ‘at fault’ and that fines will not fix the problem. Only an ongoing cooperative approach involving the entire supply chain and all levels of government can result in meaningful change.  We must hold those who prepare livestock for transport to account and start assisting (rather than prosecuting) drivers by providing viable disposal options.

 

NATIONAL HEAVY VEHICLE CHARGING PILOT

The ALRTA Executive Director participated in a Design Workshop to help inform the National Heavy Vehicle Charing Pilot that is being developed by the Australian Government.

The stages of the pilot are as follows:

  • Stage 1 (2018): foundation advice, modelling and market research.
  • Stage 2 (2018-20): On road mock billing.
  • Stage 3 (2020): test new system on an opt-in basis.
  • Stage 4: Full implementation.

Decisions about whether or not to proceed will be made after Stage 2.

The new charging system is intended to replace both rego and fuel-based charges.  Charges will be based on planned future spending (rather than cost recovery of previous spending) and it will at least involve a distance and mass charge, and possibly also a location factor.

Determining a suitable mass charge is one of the most difficult aspects of the project.  Not one of the several European countries or US states with distance-based charges has successfully implemented a ‘real time’ mass measurement.

It is also intended that all charges raised will be hypothecated for road spending (i.e. charges must be spent on roads and road regulation).  Tolls will be outside of the system and some other special access projects will also be treated differently (e.g. local operators may be asked to pay a special levy for some access projects to be viable – we will need to watch this element closely to make sure it does not become the primary focus).

Some of the additional concerns raised by ALRTA were:

  • Whether charges will be based on marginal cost of road provision or service level – using an unsealed rural road should cost far less than a major highway;
  • Complexity of charging calculation – how will an operator be able to estimate operating costs if every road is different?
  • Cost of implementing new technology (GPS tracking) and what else it might be used for in future – just imagine the temptation of governments to use a GPS charging system for compliance and enforcement purposes.

After much discussion it became clear that the key questions for the Government were:

  1. How much will operators have to pay?
  2. What will operators get in return?
  3. How will the system link with the HVNL (Will it be able to provide a revolutionary new access system? Will it just be used as an enforcement tool?).

ALRTA also attended a consultative workshop this week on possibility of moving to independent decision making for heavy vehicle charges and the proposed forward-looking cost base.  Currently, charges are decided by Ministers after a recommendation from the NTC.  Ministers do not always make fair decisions and are currently over-charging industry by more than $100m annually.

The ALRTA National Council will consider charging issues next week.

 

$190M IN NEW DROUGHT RELIEF

Prime Minister Turnbull this week announced $190m in new drought relief measures with mixed responses from farmers around Australia.  The main aspects of the announcement are:

  • Households eligible for the Farm Household Allowance – a fortnightly payment totalling around $16,000 a year – will receive two additional lump sum payments on 1 September 2018 and 1 March 2019.  Couples in a household will receive up to an additional $12,000 and single households will receive up to $7,200.
  • The net asset threshold cap to qualify for the Farm Household Allowance will increase from $2.6 million to $5 million.  This will extend access to around 8,000 farmers.
  • The availability of Farm Household Allowance will be extended from three years to four.
  • Additional funding has been allocated to the Rural Financial Counselling Service, mental health services and various community programs.

These new funds come in addition to $386m in drought relief measures already in place and the Coalition has stated that there will be further announcements in coming weeks.

The NSW Government has also recently announced freight subsidies covering up to 50 percent of the transport cost for grain, hay or fodder for feeding livestock or for transporting livestock for adjustment, sale or slaughter.  There is a cap of $20,000 per farm business.

For more information about drought relief assistance click here.

 

NHVR CHIPS IN TO SUPPORT DROUGHT RELIEF EFFORT

The NHVR must be applauded for taking proactive and practical measures to assist with the transportation of feed and fodder around Australia to deal with the worsening drought crisis in NSW and other parts of Australia.

Some of the steps taken by NHVR include:

  • Waiving of permit application fees;
  • Prioritisation of permits needed for drought relief purposes (NOTE: a one day turnaround is possible if the applicant specifies the permit is for drought relief);
  • Development of new drought notices for fodder movements to address width issues;
  • A general alert has been issued to all enforcement authorities to apply discretion and consider formal warnings for non-safety related breaches involving vehicles carrying drought relief supplies.

Operators experiencing adverse enforcement outcomes are encouraged to contact your state association or the ALRTA and will endeavour to assist.

ALRTA understands that the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, the Hon Melinda Pavey MP, will make further formal announcements on Monday.

NHVR INDUSTRY REFERENCE FORUM

On Friday this week ALRTA participated in a meeting of the NHVR Industry Reference Forum (IRF) in Brisbane.  This is the highest level NHVR consultative group.  The IFR also met jointly with the National Operational Strategy and Policy Advisory Group with comprises senior government officials across all jurisdictions.

Look out for an update next week.

 

EMPLOYING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (of which ALRTA is a member) is running a project to help make it easier for small and medium sized businesses, particularly in rural and regional areas, to employ people with a range of disabilities – and we need your help!

If you can spare time for an anonymous three-minute survey, click here.

The survey is open until 24 August 2018.

The next stage will involve an opportunity to be involved in paid market research.   I have participated in several of these forums in the past – it a great way to make some spending money while helping a good cause.  Look out for details in future newsletters.

 

MEETING NOTICE: AGM AND COUNCIL

Members are advised that the ALRTA will be holding a Council meeting and AGM on Thursday, 16 August 2018 at the Best Western, Airport Motel and Convention Centre, 33 Ardlie St, Victoria.

For more information please contact the ALRTA Secretariat (02) 6247 5434 or office@alrta.org.au

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

LRTAV Annual Conference
When: 17-18 August 2018
Where: Bendigo, Victoria
Click here for a Delegate Brochure.
Click here for a Delegate Registration Form.

ATA & ALC Supply Chain Summit
When: 5-6 September 2018
Where: Melbourne
More information

Road Freight NSW Conference
When: 13 September 2018
Where: Rooty Hill RSL
More information

ATA Technology and Maintenance Conference
When: 15-17 October 2018
Where: TBC
More information

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