ALRTA News – 8 December 2023

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ALRTA Executive Director Update

Who can believe it’s only 2 weeks until Christmas?!?  I know members are busy at the moment between harvest and livestock transport. 

This week I had the opportunity to catch up with Alina Hawkins, LRTAV, Bec Coleman LBRCA, Tammie Swalling LRTAQ and Michelle Harwood, LTAT.  These are great conversations and opportunities to learn more about member issues in various states as well as opportunities to collaborate on key national issues and priorities.  I look forward to catching up with Jan Cooper, LRTAWA and Hayley Mason, LRTASA next week. 

This week saw the last sitting week of the Parliament conclude.  There was hot debate around the Closing Loopholes Bill and implications.  It is encouraging to see the Road Transport Section of this Bill has been carried over until next year.  In January 2024, ALRTA will host a webinar for members on the Bill and its potential implications.  Please watch this space. 

I also had the opportunity to catch up with National Partner, Repco, face to face in Canberra.  Thank you to Mark Kolpin and Michael Hull for making the time to see me.  Repco have been working hard behind the scenes to make accessing their ALRTA offers easier.  In coming weeks there will be fact sheets on how to sign up, a dedicated ALRTA email address for ALRTA members and some Christmas specials. 

Mark Koplin, Repco and Rachel Smith, ALRTA

Paul Walsh, CEO of Industry Skills Australia (ISA) and I met to discuss competency based training and how industry can work with ISA to develop localised programs to address skills and workforce needs.  As a result Paul will be speaking as part of the ALRTA LRTAQ conference in Toowoomba in March 2024. 

I participated in a workshop on Wednesday hosted by Deloitte providing feedback on a recent consultation regarding the National Livestock Information System (NLIS) as they redesign the existing system to meet future needs.  It was heartening to see transporters being included in this program of work.  

I also had the opportunity to view the NHVR National Access Framework system.  It appears to be a good step in the right direction to increase productivity for transporters.  I look forward to working with the Steering Group as this project continues.

On Thursday, and subsequently Friday, Elanor, Sue and I had an office clear out, it was a big two days sorting through cupboards, boxes and folders. Identifying documents to archive and moving things to the storage shed.  I know we were all absolutely spent by the end of day 2.  

On Thursday evening, the Executive met which was a great opportunity for me to provide an update on the financial, governance and operational state of the organisation, plus share my plans for January 2024.  It could be famous last words but as January is typically quieter, I’m hoping to do some planning to guide ALRTA’s activities in 2024.

The Driver and Animal Welfare Committee held its last meeting for the year.  It was encouraging to see the good work the committee has achieved over the past 12 months and establish focus areas for 2024. 

Lastly, a reminder the ALRTA offices will be closed by 12noon 22 December reopening on 8 January 2024.  If you require assistance during that time, the office phone will be diverted to my mobile. 

Until next week!

ATA calls for fatigue & work diary rule changes

The ATA submission to the National Transport Commission on reforms to the Heavy Vehicle National Law said the truck driver fatigue laws should be fixed to deliver simpler work diaries, sensible enforcement and fairer penalties.

ATA Chair, David Smith said the rules for recording work and rest hours were an unnecessary stress on drivers.

Read more in ATA’s media release here.

ALRTA calls for increased height in HVNL review submission 

ALRTA submission calls for increased height limits on the road network, stating the productivity and reduction in regulatory red tape out weights the risk.  In it’s submission ALRTA stated:

“ALRTA acknowledges there has been some concern regarding potential increases in rollovers and issues with clearance heights.  From feedback many State jurisdictions are not opposed to 4.6m height vehicle and trailers, concerns regarding rollovers could be mitigated by ensuring stability controls are fitted to trailers.  

Jurisdictions have also confirmed powerline and tree line clearance is currently set at 4.9m.   ALRTA note feedback from other organisations around concerns regarding lack of height data in mapping tools.  ALRTA note livestock carriers already operate without these technologies with minimal incidents related to bridge and powerline collisions. These types of incidents typically occur with general freight carriers, such as the infamous Montague Bridge in Melbourne, therefore ALRTA considers these concerns to be baseless in a livestock carrier context.”  

The full submission can be found here

Operator guilty of HVNL Primary Duty breach

Following a six-week hearing, the National Operations Manager of a company has been found guilty of a category 1 offence, the most serious under Heavy Vehicle National Law, for breaching their primary duty as an operator and is set to be sentenced on 23 January, facing a possible two-year custodial sentence.

The charges were laid by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) in September 2021 following an extensive investigation led by Victoria Police through Taskforce Paragon.

Taskforce Paragon was established to investigate an incident on the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne, where a heavy vehicle hit and killed four Victoria Police officers while they were conducting a roadside intercept on 22 April 2020.

NHVR Executive Director Statutory Compliance, Raymond Hassall, says the collaboration between NHVR and Victoria Police ensured a positive safety outcome for the heavy vehicle industry.

“This outcome demonstrates the power of the HVNL – with the incident occurring in Victoria, the company being based out of NSW, and having employees right across Australia, the matter was able to be heard from a national perspective,” Mr Hassall said.

“It was also found that they were a party in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) as an operator, sending a strong message to executives across the heavy vehicle industry that their obligation is to keep their people and all road users safe.”

NHVR Director of Prosecutions, Belinda Hughes stressed the importance of executives having the systems and procedures in place to support safety in their organisation – including for fatigue management.

Read the NHVR media release in full here

Big Rigs reported that last month the company was fined $2.31 million under the HVNL and the company’s managing director was also fined $22,000 and given a supervisory order.

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