ALRTA MEETS DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
ALRTA has congratulated the Hon Michael McCormack MP on his election as Leader of the Federal Nationals and appointment to the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
ALRTA Executive Director, Mathew Munro, met with Deputy Prime Minister McCormack in Canberra this week to offer our support and cooperation on strategic safety and productivity issues.
Over two days this week, President Keenan and Mr Munro have met with eleven Federal Politicians as well as the Australian Livestock Marketers Association. Our main topics of discussion were chain of responsibility, EWDs, mandatory ESC and effluent infrastructure.
Look out for a full report next week.
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WORK BEGINS ON EFFLUENT CODE
The ALRTA met with the NHVR and ALC in Canberra this week to kick off our development of a registered industry code of practice for livestock effluent management.
Development of the ALRTA code has been funded by the NHVR and operator consultations will commence during a special session of the joint ALRTA-LBRCA National-State Conference in Coffs Harbour on 23 March 2018. Wider industry consultation will occur over the remainder of 2018.
The Effluent Code will sit under the broader industry Master Code of Practice that is being developed jointly by ATA and ALC. The meeting this week was an excellent opportunity to learn about how the Master Code has been developed and to ensure that it contains the necessary content to facilitate seamless integration with an Effluent Code.
CONSULTATION ON FUTURE CHARGING
The ALRTA met with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities this week on plans for reform of heavy vehicle charges.
Australian Governments will conduct trials of an alternative charging system over the next few years, aiming to demonstrate that their intended ‘end state’ for direct user charging is feasible and has benefits for users and governments.
This was a rather enlightening meeting because it is now clear that governments have in fact decided upon a preferred charging system which ALRTA understands will almost certainly involve:
- A mass-distance-location charging system for general road use;
- A forward-looking cost-base so that charges are collected in advance;
- Total heavy vehicle charges will be increased to build better road infrastructure that delivers improved safety and productivity;
- Collected money must be spent on roads but with some level of cross-subsidisation to assist network building;
- Lower tier rural and remote roads are unlikely to receive greater funding and will instead rely on ‘community service obligation’ payments to maintain a minimum standard;
- An independent body will determine the total overall charge;
- All participating vehicles will require a telematics system;
- Supplementary local charging systems will also be in allowable. These will focus on payment for improved access.
ALRTA will participate in the first meeting of an Industry Advisory Committee on 20 March 2018 to shape the development of the National Heavy Vehicle Charging Pilot and Business Case Program for Location-Specific Trials.
PRIMARY PRODUCER REGISTRATION
ALRTA and NatRoad (with the support of LBRCA and LRTAV) recently wrote jointly to NHVR posing important questions about future enforcement of the conditions attached to Primary Producer Registration Schemes. We also raised the matter at the NHVR Industry Operations Group and the top level NHVR Industry Reference Group.
NHVR are clearly taking the matter seriously and are investigating the current state-based approach to enforcement, including remedies that may be available once a national registration database is established and NHVR progressively takes on roadside enforcement across HVNL states.
While neither ALRTA or NatRoad are opposed to Primary Producer Registration Schemes when used as intended, both compliance and enforcement have been seriously lacking for many years. Not only does this result in unfair competition with commercial carriers, but money that should be spent on rural roads is not collected and governments will eventually question whether or not the concessional schemes should continue (see article on FIRS below).
This week the ALRTA participated in a teleconference with AgForce (QLD) to discuss our position and consider how our associations can cooperate to improve compliance. It was suggested that farmers would be more likely to comply if flexible registration options were available (e.g. being able to purchase 1 month rego via a mobile phone). Queensland has recently removed a three month registration option and now requires a six month minimum.
Generally, compliance can be improved if regulated parties are given workable options such as that suggested by AgForce. ALRTA and our state associations will continue to work with like-minded farming bodies to improve compliance and protect the concession for legitimate users.
GOVERNMENT TO CLOSE FIRS
The trucking industry will oppose the Government’s decision to increase the stamp duty burden on operators by closing the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme, the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, said today.
“The Government has today introduced legislation to parliament to abolish FIRS, which will remove stamp duty exemptions and increase the tax burden on the hardworking trucking operators who deliver Australia’s interstate trade,” Mr Crouch said.
“While the Government has proposed a one off stamp duty exemption for existing FIRS vehicles, the exemption will not address the ongoing annual costs for operators who would normally register new vehicles in FIRS.
“The Government has estimated that the current FIRS stamp duty exemption saves trucking operators $6.2 million annually.
“Abolishing FIRS amounts to a $6.2 million annual tax increase on new heavy vehicles. As the Prime Minister says, if you increase taxes on investment, you’ll get less investment.
“Stamp duty is a notoriously inefficient tax, and the Government is effectively proposing to increase Australia’s reliance on older heavy vehicles, utilising older safety technologies and older emissions standards.”
Mr Crouch called on the Senate to refer the provisions of the Interstate Road Transport Legislation (Repeal) Bill 2018 to an inquiry.
“The Government hasn’t done, or hasn’t released, any modelling of the economic impact of closing FIRS,” Mr Crouch said.
“They don’t know the impact on the linehaul fleet, which supports Australia’s interstate supply chains.
“The Senate should refer the provisions of the Bill to an inquiry.”
Mr Crouch said that instead of closing FIRS, the Government should boost productivity by using FIRS to set the pace on reforming heavy vehicle standards and road access for high productivity vehicles.
“In the 1990s, FIRS had an important role in boosting productivity and road access for B-doubles for interstate trade,” Mr Crouch said.
“Today, there’s an opportunity for the Government to use FIRS to set the pace on prescribing suitable road networks for high productivity vehicles, which are safer, more productive, and reduce the impacts of trucks on roads and the environment.”
Mr Crouch said the planned National Heavy Vehicle Registration System would not be an effective substitute for FIRS.
“Although it has some welcome features, such as the elimination of truck registration labels, the planned system would not be national and would not address important issues facing trucking operators, such as stamp duty. The time to replace FIRS would be when there is a proper national system that deals with all these issues,” he said.
The ATA made a detailed submission to Government on the need to retain and improve FIRS.
The Federal Government has this week introduced legislation that will:
- Close FIRS to new entrants and re-registration by existing FIRS operators from 1 July 2018.
- Preserve provisions required to facilitate the operation of FIRS for a 12 month transitional period after closure to new entrants and re-registrants.
Close FIRS to all operators by 30 June 2019.
WE NEED CERTAINTY FOR BUSINESS PLANS
The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) has expressed deep concern over the call by Labor’s left to remove all tax cuts for small business if they win government at the next election, as reported in recent media.
Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, stated that “businesses cannot plan with confidence if they are not sure what the tax rules will be in twelve months time. These tax cuts are about employment, businesses have been able to plan to employ more people or have the confidence to make casual staff permanent or part time employees full time. Unless Labor can come out and guarantee the tax cuts will remain then confidence in employing will drop.”
Mr Strong continued “we have previously expressed concern about political parties playing games with the tax system. In the first Hockey budget in 2013 the government back dated tax changes for small business and we rightfully expressed deep concern about that type of practice, it did not engender confidence from our sector. While the next few Hockey budgets were very good for small business it is a lesson that should not be forgotten by the Labor left.”
COSBOA believes that the whole tax system needs to be reviewed and that in particular the GST and its rate and application needs to be discussed. There is an opportunity to make the tax system fairer and productive rather than one that is confusing and impedes growth.
Mr Strong added ‘the Australian economy is in good condition and we need to keep it that way, our high wages and relatively low employment rate are under threat if we create uncertainty for the great group of employers and innovators who are the small business community. The left wing of the Labor Party need to stop trying to stop change and actually work with it, otherwise there will be more poor people in Australia, which may just suit there need?”
“Any discussion about removing the already legislated tax cuts for small business is a slap in the face for all small business owners”, said Mr Strong.
“We call on Mr Shorten to immediately rule out any retrospective roll back of the tax cuts that have already been put in place for small businesses earning less than $50M per year”, said Mr Strong.
To not immediately do so would be to put the interests of big business ahead of the more than 7.5M everyday Australians who make a living by working in small business” Mr Strong said.
MEETING NOTICE: ALRTA NATIONAL COUNCIL
Members are reminded that the ALRTA will be holding a Council meeting on Saturday, 24 March 2018. Details are:
Location: Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbor
For more information please contact the ALRTA Secretariat.
NATIONAL-STATE CONFERENCE 2018
The LBRCA and ALRTA are delighted to invite you to Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbour on 23-24 March for our 2018 combined conference, which means that your voice will be heard louder than ever!
- Complete the registration form and return the LBRCA!
- Book your accommodation directly with Opal Cove Resort, quote LBRCA upon booking!
Further information is available from the LBRCA and ALRTA websites.