ALRTA News – 23 January 2024

Thank you Cummins

ALRTA National Partner

ALRTA Executive Director Update

Welcome back to 2024 and my weekly updates!  I hope everyone had a restful break and avoided catching COVID, unfortunately I was not so lucky!
2024 is shaping up to be a big year and the team and I have hit the ground running.  Sue travelled to Warwick to Fraser’s ‘Yarn in the Yard’ where two sessions were presented on how telematics can inform driver behaviour to prevent rollovers.  Please see her update below.

I spent some time in Melbourne with our National Partners, PACCAR, Cummins and bp.  It was great to connect with the teams in person and plan out activities and cement agreements for the next twelve months.  A big thanks to our partners for so generously hosting me, it’s always great to learn about partner initiatives and how we can work together to address existing and emerging industry challenges.

ALRTA is also in discussion with several potential national partners, so please watch this space for further updates.

Elanor and I have been working with Tammie and Colleen, LRTAQ to finalise details and arrangements for the LRTAQ / ALRTA combined conference in Toowoomba on 21 – 23 March.  Registrations are now live, to get your tickets, please click here.

The next few weeks are set to be busy with upcoming National Council meeting and the first Federal Parliamentary sittings commencing on Tuesday 6 February (which also coincides with the RBA’s first meeting of 2024).  It will be an interesting first sitting week as the Government focusses on cost-of-living pressures, industrial relations reform (and ongoing DP World EBA negotiation dispute), rising tensions in the Middle East and potential trade impacts and increasing pressures from the community and industry regarding changes in tax brackets (stage 3 tax cuts) and newly introduced biosecurity levy. 

Speaking of Industrial Relations reform, I have included a summary of where the ‘Closing Loopholes Bill’ currently stands. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
I’m looking forward to working with members and stakeholders in 2024, until next week!

Braking Habits TB at Frasers ‘Yarn in the Yard’

Last week Frasers Livestock Transport hosted a driver briefing on the ALRTA’s federally funded HVSI project about ‘Using telematic data to reduce the incidence of truck rollover crashes’. The project will demonstrate the practical procedures necessary to obtain and use telematics data from ESC systems effectively, via case studies. Two different livestock transport businesses will be featured in the project, one of which is Frasers.

The toolbox talk sessions were introduced by Frasers Compliance & Central QLD Manager, Athol Carter (also an ALRTA VP), and delivered by heavy vehicle safety enthusiasts, Adam Gibson from NTI and Shane Pendergast from AirBrake Systems. Adam delivered an informative PowerPoint and video presentation while Shane shared a personal story about a rollover crash and provided expert technical advice about smart braking systems, how they work and the range of data that they hold.

Adam made the point that they key objective of this initiative is for everyone to get home safely every trip by equipping expert drivers with the knowledge, skills and equipment to manage key transport safety risks.

Shane Pendergast explains how the braking system works

There was a high level of interaction in all sessions with drivers asking lots of questions about the gear. It will be interesting to see how the project progresses, how concerns can be addressed and what the livestock transport industry can take away from the experience of operating this technology.

Adam Gibson, Athol Carter, Sue Davies (ALRTA), Shane Pendergast

Closing Loopholes – Member Update


The Closing Loopholes Bill was introduced to Parliament on 4 September 2023 and sets to bring about the most sweeping industrial relations reform since the coalition introduced Work Choices in 2007, except in the other direction. 
The Bill is now subject to a Senate Inquiry with the findings of the Inquiry set to be handed down in February 2024. ALRTA completed a submission however, was not invited to appear. As at the last sitting week of 2023, the Road Transport elements of the proposed Bill have been held over until first sitting week in February 2024.
It is an omnibus Bill, in that it deals with the entire industrial relations framework from the role and access of unions to union and non union sites, contractual chain obligations, leave provisions, setting of minimum rates in the transport industry to asbestos, PTSD and criminalising of wage theft.  A full background to the Bill can be found here.
Currently, ALRTA is the only transport association speaking actively against the proposed Bill.  ALRTA has been advocating for a Rural Transport exemption from the proposed Bill. There is precedent for this as demonstrated by:

Example 1:
Section 20(1)(c) of the now abolished Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 (Cth) provided that:

In deciding whether to make a remuneration order, the Tribunal must have regard to the following
(c) the special circumstances of areas that are particularly reliant on the road transport
industry, such as rural, regional and other isolated areas.
Example 2:
Section 309(4) of the NSW Industrial Relations Act 1996 excludes from coverage of laws regulating owner drivers certain types of contracts covering, among other things: milk, livestock, primary produce to or from land used for primary production or in circumstances where the primary contractor is a primary producer and the contract is for the transportation of primary produce.

Further, the Transport Industry – General Carriers Interim Contract Determination made by the NSW Industrial Commission on 24 June 2016 excludes certain types of specialist vehicles used in the rural supply chain such as: tankers or vehicles with tipping trailers or a tipping body.

Key implications for Road Transport

  • Contained within the proposed Bill is specific road transport section, which captures road transport and the gig economy.  Basically, the Bill is seeking to regulate the likes of Uber, in doing so have expanded the scope of the gig economy to include Road Transport, and runs the risk of being RSRT 2.0.  In fact the Bill as it currently stands, goes further than RSRT
  • The Fair Work Commission (FWC) would have the power to set minimum rates in the “road transport contractual chain”. Setting of minimum rates, this has the potential to be the ceiling not the floor and is direct government intervention in a marketplace
  • Industry, to ALRTA knowledge, have not seen what the regulatory framework that would apply to the Road Transport Sector which adds uncertainty in a time of high inflation, cost of living pressures and historically low economy wide productivity levels
  • A Road Transport Advisory Group will be established, ALRTA has been advocating a rural transport operator needs to form part of this advisory group
  • The ACCC will not have oversight of road transport sector which has potential to drive cartel like price setting.  This could see large players push small players out of the marketplace
  • There is vague language contained within the proposed Bill as to what would be considered employee like in nature, i.e. The FWC does not have powers to instigate orders that could reasonably be considered to be commercial in nature.  The frequent use of the term ‘reasonable’ is concerning
  • Changes to casual employment due to a change in definition of casual.  This could have impacts on regularly employed staff under casual arrangements, which often suit both the employer and employee
  • Changes the definition of who is an independent contractor, captured under ‘Employee Like’ work.  This goes against the Jansk High Court ruling
  • Wage Theft proposed to be a criminal offence under the proposed Bill.  This is somewhat alarming however, the Bill clearly states that the wage theft needs to be systemic and intentional in nature for criminal charges to apply. 

There are some potential positives in terms of the setting of minimum rates, consideration would need to be given to:

  • payment terms;
  • deductions;
  • working time;
  • record-keeping;
  • insurance; and
  • consultation.

There are some provisions for ‘cost recovery’ but the intent of this term varies dependent on the stakeholder.  ALRTA would potentially support the ability to recoup business costs such as insurance, petrol, tolls, time waiting for slot allocations but would caution against extending this provision to include the likes of superannuation costs for a contractor.  
But once again the devil is in the detail, without a clear understanding of the regulatory and enforcement framework, this proposed Bill poses a significant risk to owner operators and small businesses in regional and rural transport.
Also, noting recent changes to the Independent Contractors Act 2006 and Unfair Contract Clauses which would address many of the above concerns, without a piece of IR legislation attempting to regulate a commercial market.

Delegate and Union Access

ALRTA specifically has concerns with new powers awarded to unions under the proposed Bill. Workplace delegates will be able to exercise representational rights by being entitled to:

  • reasonable communication with members, and any other persons eligible to be members, in relation to their industrial interests;
  • reasonable access to the workplace and workplace facilities where the enterprise is being carried on; and
  • reasonable access to paid time, during normal working hours, for the purposes of related training.

These extended powers would mean Union representatives would have the right to ask for all employee and contractor details, be able to attend worksites with no prior notice to actively recruit. In Australia less than 10% of private sector employees are union members, it is therefore somewhat alarming that unions would have free access to employee data to actively recruit from. There are also significant privacy concerns.

ALRTA’s submission to the enquiry can be found here.

Should you be interested in an ALRTA Member Only Webinar on this piece of important reform, please email Elanor to express your interest,

Registrations are open now

Join us in Toowoomba QLD for our 2024 LRTAQ/ALRTA Combined National Conference: Register now or find out more:

Register online
Registration brochure
Registration form

Trucking Australia 2024 early bird offer 

Don’t miss your chance to save $100 off the full pass for Trucking Australia 2024 (TA 24). This early bird offer ends 31 January 2024, so secure your spot today!

This year Trucking Australia will be held at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, from 17-19 April 2024.

TA 24 is an opportunity to join trucking operators, national and state regulators, industry stakeholders and suppliers across the country as we tackle the most pressing issues in the area of safety, productivity, workforce and sustainability. 

Hurry, book your ticket by the early bird deadline of 31 January 2024 and save!

Stakeholder survey – Transport & Logistics Initial Workforce Plan 

Industry Skills Australia (ISA) recently shared workforce plans for key industries including Maritime, Rail and Transport & Logistics. Read the Transport & Logistics Initial Workforce Plan 2023 here.

Stakeholders are invited to contribute to an understanding of industry dynamics, challenges and potential solutions by participating in an online survey.

The survey relates specifically to industry workforce planning and skill development demands.

It should take approximately 10 minutes to complete the survey, it can be completed anonymously and the results will inform the Workforce Plan 2024.

The Workforce Plan survey can be found here or on the Industry Skills Australia website. Responses are due by 5:00pm on 25 January 2024.

Save the dates for 2024

  • LBRCA – 23-24 February 2024 – WAGGA WAGGA NSW
  • LRTAQ/ALRTA National Combined Conference – 21-22 March 2024 – TOOWOOMBA QLD
  • LRTASA – May 31 – 1 June 2024 – ADELAIDE SA
  • LRTAWA – 3 August 2024 – WA
  • LRTAV – 16-17 August 2024 – SHEPPARTON VIC