Talking Turkey About Trucking

Communication, communication, communication

Diesel News would like to congratulate Chris Melham on taking over the role of CEO at the Australian Trucking Association. This is not such a big move, physically, for Chris, he has been working in the same building as CEO of NatRoad for a number of years. In this time he has shown his grasp on the issues and an ability to get things done, get issues worked through and bring the trucking industry along with him.


In one sense, however, this is a big move. He is no longer a representative of a particular group of individual members all with their own interests and problems. He is now out there representing the trucking industry as a whole, all of us. This is something very different, the problems are bigger and take place at a higher level, it is a step up.


Now is the time to really build on the achievements of the ATA, so far in its 25 year history, and take the whole thing to the next level. The ATA is now a well-established lobbying organisation based in its own building in Canberra. With the Minter Ellison building close to being paid off, funds for improved research and policy development should start to come on stream.


The essence of how the ATA moves into the future can be boiled down to one thing, communication. It’s about time the trucking industry’s voice was heard at all levels and in all fora. There is no point in being a shrinking violet about this, there are important issues coming up and our voice needs to be clearly heard.


Communication is not just about the public presentation of the industry. However, the industry’s voice has been lost many times in the general cacophony around trucking in recent years. The TWU and the NSW RMS have got plenty of airtime, on TV, radio and in the newspapers in recent years, but a clear message from trucking has been missing.


We have allowed rogue reporters from TV shows, like A Current Affair, to make outrageous claims and set back the agenda, without any protest from a wronged trucking industry. We have an articulate and plain speaking Chair in Noelene Watson who comes over as forthright and reasonable, sadly unused on the issue.


At the same time, the communication needs to be precisely targeted behind closed doors, both in Canberra and the state capitals. The ATA needs to have access throughout the back rooms of Canberra. Perhaps funds freed up by from the HQ building could be used to bring together research to help our politicians introduce legislation which helps trucking, get over the line. At a time of drastic cuts, well funded research will be useful tool in paving the way for reform.


Recent years have seen rifts appear as bureaucrats and state governments hamper attempts to get us a genuinely national regulator. An organisation as big as the ATA can get in there and help get recalcitrant nay sayers to reform. It is in the interest of the NTC, the NHVR and all of the industry associations to use coordinated pressure to make progress.


There is also communication needed between the ATA and its constituency. Its members are a select band of associations and companies, but its constituency is the broader trucking community. Perhaps there should be more talking directly to truckies and those representing them in different fields. Education about the issues, and the role of the ATA would go a long way to getting the agenda clear.


So there it is, only one thing to do, communication!

Ravaglioli Commercial Vehicle Wireless Mobile Column Lifts

M30 refrigerant safety risk

The Industry Technical Council of the Australian Trucking Association warned the trucking industry of safety risks associated with some refrigerants. Chris Loose, ATA Senior Adviser Engineering, said the cheaper gas could lead to disaster when used in vehicle air-conditioning systems.


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“Vehicle air-conditioning and refrigeration systems are designed to use specialised automotive refrigerant gases,” said Chris. “These manufacturer-endorsed products have a low fire risk, and newer products have been formulated to have a reduced environmental footprint.


“However, some after-market repairers will ‘re-gas’ refrigeration systems using cheaper, hydrocarbon-based refrigerant gases, often sold as M30. These hydrocarbon gases are highly flammable, and pose a significant safety risk in these systems. In one case, an Australian heavy vehicle driver suffered burns after the re-gassed air-conditioning system in his truck ignited.


“To our knowledge, no heavy vehicle in Australia has ever been designed to use these gases. Vehicle owners using these businesses may not even be informed that their system is being re-gassed using M30 rather than the recommended refrigerants. No matter the cost saving, these gases are not worth the risk.”


The ITC recommends operators exercise caution with any cut-price re-gassing service, and ensure all air-conditioning and refrigeration systems in their fleet use the manufacturer’s recommended refrigerant gas product.

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Dreaming of the grand final

It’s like waking up on the morning after losing a grand final. Your team made it all of the way to the big day and then messed up, going down meekly to the opposition. There’s a blame game to be had, if you want to take it out on somebody, and then there’s just crying in your beer. Read more

One voice on critical COR reform

All of the representatives of the trucking industry have agreed to a single submission to the National Transport Commission on amendments needed to improve the current chain of responsibility situation. Speaking at an industry information forum, hosted by Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers on the Gold Coast today, Chris Melham has outlined the road transport industry’s position on COR. Read more

Trucking industry honoured

Just like the Duke of Edinburgh, the trucking industry was recognised in the Australia Day Honours List. The headline news is the appointment of Kathy Williams as a Member of the Order of Australia, as announced on Australia.




Kathy Williams AM was the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association from 2000 to 2002, and has been a member of the ATA’s Board of Directors since 1999. She has only recently stood down from the position of Treasurer of the ATA. Over the years, Kathy has also served as Treasurer of NatRoad and as a board member for the South Australian Road Transport Association.


Her working career involved a long association with Bunkers Transport and the operation’s transformation from local family trucking operation to a major national linehaul contractor. The company now trades under the Red Star Transport banner.


“As Chair of the ATA, Kathy led the development of the ATA’s national headquarters in Canberra, and turned the first sod on the site,” said Noelene Watson, ATA Chair, in response to the news. “This project has underpinned the long term security, viability and effectiveness of the ATA. As ATA Treasurer, she continued to drive this project by managing the payment plan for the building.


“Kathy also played a critical role in securing the maintenance of the on-road diesel grant. This was a $650 million per year victory for Australian trucking operators. Under her guidance, the ATA’ s safety accreditation program, TruckSafe, was developed into an individual entity. Today, TruckSafe is used by hundreds of operators across Australia to reach safety standards above and beyond the requirements of the law.”


Kathy was also recognised for her service to the community and the arts. She served as a member of the Board of the Collections Council of Australia from 2004 to 2010, working on the project to set national standards for the digital recording of collections.


Further involvement includes being a board member for Concern Australia, a Christian welfare and ministry organisation, in which Kathy is involved in the Hand Brake Turn program, helping disadvantaged children to obtain an Automotive Certificate I qualification.


Harry Gooden, a former President of the Victorian Road Transport Association (VTA) from 1992 to 1996, and was the VTA representative to the Australian Trucking Association for several years, received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the road transport industry, and to the community.


“Extremely active in the industry, Mr Gooden also served as Chairman of the VTA’s waste management division, the Victorian Waste Management Association, for 14 years,” said Peter Anderson, VTA CEO. “Mr Gooden was a Board Member of VicRoads for eight years, an inaugural councillor on the Road Transport Forum and a committee member on the Australian Road Transport Industry Organisation.


“Following his retirement in 2001, Mr Gooden joined the Illawarra Road Safety Group and has been involved in the Rotary Youth Drive Awareness program. It’s fantastic to see someone from the VTA family recognised with such a tremendous honour.”

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Getting the story out there

By the time we get to the ATA conference in March, the trucking industry will have seen a lot of changes in the past year or so, among the people representing stakeholders. A large proportion of those representing the transport industry in industry associations, as well as those heading the important government agencies and organisations we deal with, are part of leadership changes. Read more

When is a dolly not a dolly?

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) have stirred up a hornets nest with the heavy haulage industry in the past few weeks. At a time when the rules for the trucking industry are being integrated into a single set of rules, the roadside enforcement in NSW are now warning drivers of single trailer low loaders with dollies that an MC license is required to drive the truck, not an HC.


This particular interpretation of the rules appears to fly in the face of the way this rule is being enforced in the rest of Australia and also in the way it was enforced in NSW until recently. The RMS appear to have taken legal advice and found it is possible to demand the driver of a low loader, which uses a dolly between the truck turntable and the trailer, must have a MC license.


The legislation states in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria that low loaders with low loader dollies will be deemed the same as semi trailers, in terms of license requirements.


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The RMS decided to change the way the roadside enforcement deal with low loaders without warning the trucking industry.


“We have not been included in any discussion on this position, and have not been given any information from RMS to communicate to our members,” said the ATA NSW, in a letter to the RMS complaining about the change. “We find this situation untenable, given we have had numerous meetings with RMS in the past that have provided ample opportunity and invitation to discuss this matter.”


Since this letter was sent, ATA NSW has reported the results of a meeting with the people at RMS. The NSW authorities will not back down from the change in interpretation and insist an MC license is needed if the combination includes a low loader dolly.


Any drivers using the HC license will be issued with an official warning, which will be recorded. They will then be allowed to drive ‘after being assessed as sufficiently experienced’. Further warnings will be issued if the driver is stopped again. However, in the end the driver will have to upgrade to an MC or face a penalty.


The RMS appear to have decided to take this course of action without consultation either with the industry or other authorities around Australia. Yet again, the state has decided to unilaterally change the rules for the trucking industry all over Australia by default. If this rule is applied in NSW, it will affect most of the low loader industry, as they will travel through NSW on a large proportion of their journeys.


This is yet another blow to the effort being put in to create a truly uniform national set of regulations for the trucking industry. As the process continues to bring road rules and roadside enforcement under one umbrella in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, one state chooses to come up with issues like this to hinder the project.



Trucking Industry Awards Nominations

Representation, reward and recognition

The trucking industry suffers from a low level of representation, reward and recognition on the whole. Three news items this week are making these possible for some in the industry. Representation at the Australian Trucking Association, reward at the National Trucking Industry Awards and recognition by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council awards.


The trucking industry’s 2015 elections, in which owner drivers and the operators of small trucking fleets can elect two representatives to the General Council of the ATA are now open.


“The ATA Council sets our strategic policy direction. It deals with the critical issues that will determine the industry’s long term future, including safety, professionalism and operator viability,” said ATA Chair, Noelene Watson. “I urge all owner drivers and small fleet operators to register to vote. You can register online through the ATA website, so it only takes a few minutes. I also urge owner drivers and small fleet operators who want to help build the industry’s future to nominate for one of the two positions.”
To register to vote, an operator must own, be purchasing or leasing 1-5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes and be on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll. To become a candidate for the single truck owner driver position, an operator must own, be purchasing or leasing one truck over 4.5 tonnes and drive it. For the small fleet position, an operator must own, be purchasing or leasing 2-5 trucks over 4.5 tonnes. Candidates must be members of an ATA member organisation.


Nominations and voter registrations close on February 10. If there are more candidates than vacancies, there will be an election by postal ballot.




Also this week, the ATA has announced the finalists for the 2015 National Trucking Industry Awards:

Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Trucking Industry

  • Kelvin Baxter, Kelvin Baxter Transport (Berrigan, NSW)
  • Leigh Smart, Formula Chemicals (West Ryde, NSW)
  • Heather Jones, Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls Inc (Karratha, WA)


National Professional Driver of the Year

  • Dwight Emerson, Simon National Carriers (Goodna, QLD)
  • Dave McCarthy, Toll (Tapping, WA)
  • Aaron Busk, Tytec Logistics (Wacol, QLD)


Trucking Industry Woman of the Year

  • Heather Jones, Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls Inc (Karratha, WA)
  • Julie Russell, RB Russell Transport (Eagle Farm, QLD)
  • Jacquelene Brotherton, Oxford Cold Storage (Laverton, VIC)


TruckSafe John Kelly Memorial Award

  • Jim Pearson Transport (Port Macquarie, NSW)
  • Mt Noorat Freighters (Terang, VIC)
  • Tanami Transport (Alice Springs, NT)

National Training Excellence Award
Theme: Training new entrants to the transport industry

  • Members of the Queensland Trucking Association (QLD)


Winners will be announced at the ATA’s 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Hobart as part of Trucking Australia 2015, the ATA’s national conference.


Nomination for more awards is now possible with the opening of nominations for the 2015 TLISC Awards for Excellence. These awards are designed to recognise organisations who are leaders in quality skills training and workforce development.


The awards are open to organisations who are registered and operating in Australia, they include:


  • 2015 TLISC Innovation and Excellence in Workforce Development Award
  •  2015 TLISC Excellence in Industry Promotion Award 2015 TLISC Trainee of the Year Award
  •  2015 TLISC Chairman’s Award


Winners will receive complimentary tickets, accommodation and return airfares for two to attend an industry dinner to showcase their achievements to representatives from across the Transport and Logistics Industry. Trophies will be presented and winners will receive the right to display the winner’s logo on merchandise and advertising material.


Livestock scheme into TruckSafe

The trucking accreditation scheme, TruckSafe, and the Australian livestock transport industry’s quality assurance program, truckCare, are to combine to become a streamlined safety program for the road transport industry. As of January 2015, truckCare will become a voluntary module of TruckSafe, with operators now able to use both programs under a single administration and auditing system. Read more

New technical advisor at the ATA

The Australian Trucking Association has appointed a new Senior Advisor Engineering to work alongside, recently appointed, Government Relations Manager, Bill McKinlay. The ATA statement said it is delighted to welcome Chris Loose as the new technical go-to man for the organisation, starting in January 2015.




Chris is a well known expert in his field with extensive experience in engineering roles within the truck manufacturing industry, including work with Mercedes-Benz Australia, Freightliner and Iveco.


“I’ve been involved in the trucking industry for a long time, and have participated in a number of the ATA’s technical and maintenance events over the years,” said Loose. “The basic philosophy of the ATA aligns very neatly with my own, you start with the outcomes that industry needs, then develop a product to meet these expectations. You then make sure that your product works and is safe in all conditions.


“I have a keen interest in vehicle safety. One issue at the moment is brake compatibility between trucks and trailers, which can easily create some big safety issues. I look forward to creating some industry discussion and providing technical advice on issues like these in my role with the ATA.”


Chris holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from Monash University, and is a qualified HC truck driver.