Weekly News – 8 July 2016

2016 Federal Election: Uncertainty Prevails

As I write this we still have no clear winner a week after the 2016 Federal Election.

Like me, you may have been following the results last Saturday night and thought the Coalition had clinched it when the ABC computers had them at 74 seats (of 76 needed to form a majority Government).  By morning, many more seats were considered ‘in doubt’ and both the Coalition and Labor were locked up at 66 all.

After a week of counting postal votes it now looks like we are headed either for a Coalition Government with the slimmest of majorities, or more likely, a minority Government including one or more of the lower house cross-benchers.

A majority Coalition Government would be the best outcome for the road transport industry.  That will mean that the RSRT will not return in this parliamentary term and there is a reasonable chance that the promised small business concessions will be enacted.  However, if the Coalition can only scrape together the bare minimum 76 seats, it would only take the resignation of one member to potentially bring down the Government.  So, we could look forward to plenty of muck-raking, character assassinations and no-confidence motions that will detract from useful Parliamentary business.

If we wind up with a minority Government things will be very interesting indeed.  I think that the Coalition will have the best chance of forming a stable(ish) minority government – but at what price?  If potential partners will only guarantee supply (i.e. that the money tap will not be turned off and no confidence motions will be defeated), but do not commit to vote with the Coalition on other issues, the door will be open to all sorts of mischief.  Firstly, the Coalition may not be able to deliver on election promises such as the abolition of the ABCC and a cut to the company tax rate. No doubt frustrations would boil over soon enough.

Secondly, a Labor opposition might even be able to muster enough votes to pass legislation through both houses without Government support.  For instance, we might see Labor introduce a marriage equality act or perhaps even have another crack at re-establishing the RSRT (or something like it).

Turnbull is meeting with Bob Katter this week to discuss the possibility of a minority government.  In a speech during the RSRT abolition campaign, Katter stated that he supports the TWU and the establishment of minimum rates for owner drivers – he just didn’t support that particular tribunal and so voted to abolish it.  He may feel differently about an alternative Labor proposal.

All of this uncertainty is present before we even start to consider the make-up of the Senate.

Most of the Senate cross-bench that helped us vote out the RSRT will be gone.  Along with Lambie and an expanded Xenophon team, we will see the likes of Hanson and Hinch take on potentially very powerful positions.  In some ways, the political postures of these new Senators are known….but in many other ways they are not…..did you know that Senator Hinch is strongly opposed to live exports?

It may take quite a while yet for the votes to be counted (or maybe even re-counted), negotiations to conclude, and ministries to be re-shuffled.

Whichever way you look at it, there will be some challenging times ahead for the Government of the day and for advocacy groups like the ALRTA.  But if I learned anything at all from our successful RSRT abolition campaign, a high level of uncertainty and lack of absolute government power can also bring opportunities.

Once the dust settles the ALRTA will assess the situation and develop an appropriate strategy to protect and enhance the interests of the rural transport sector.

Owner Drivers in NSW

Last week we reported that the NSW Industrial Relations Commission has greatly extended the geographical coverage of the NSW General Carriers Contract Determination to now include owner-driver contracts throughout all of NSW.  This will impose some new ‘award like’ obligations but it does not extend mandatory minimum rates at this stage (although the TWU has made an application).

This week, the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) has informed us that the laws include specific exemptions for the transportation of livestock, as well as any goods to or from a farm.  This is welcome news, but of course this may not exempt some other types of rural movements such as grain from a silo to a port.

We will provide a further update when more information comes to hand on this developing situation.

New Fuel Tax Rates from 1 July 2016

Members are reminded that fuel tax credit rates changed on 1 July 2016.

In line with the Federal Government’s decision to freeze the total amount of revenue raised via the road user charge, the rate has decreased from 26.14 to 25.9 cents per litre.  As a result, the fuel tax credit rate for eligible heavy vehicles will increase from 13.36 cents per litre to 13.6 cents per litre.

ALRTA Executive Director on Leave

The ALRTA Executive Director will be on leave from Monday, 11 July 2016, returning to the office on Monday, 25 July 2016.

For urgent enquiries please contact Tracy Fairhall on (02) 6247 5434 or office@alrta.org.au

REMINDER: ALRTA Notice of AGM and Council Meeting

Members are advised of the upcoming ALRTA AGM and Council Meeting on Thursday, 4 August 2016, at the RACV Torquay Resort, 1 Great Ocean Road, Torquay, Victoria.

Details are:

  • 3:00pm: Council Meeting
  • 7:30pm: Annual General Meeting

For more details please contact the ALRTA Secretariat.

REMINDER: Joint LRTAV / National Conference

The Joint LRTAV – National Conference will be held 5-6 August 2016 at the RACV Resort in Torquay. Why not give yourselves a break and enjoy the magnificent facilities at Torquay whilst meeting people from other states and helping to support the LRTAV and ALRTA as we enter into a new era with a new Government!

Friday sees the conference kick off with golf in the morning, followed by three short information sessions and a longer session on the RSRT.  Friday night dinner is a special 80’s themed event including presentation of Young Driver and Outstanding Industry Contribution Awards.  The main Conference Sessions are on Saturday followed by a Gala Dinner and Auction.

Don’t miss out on this informative conference, or opportunity to soak up the beauty of the Great Ocean Road!

Register here