Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison seems to reckon it’s road vs rail in the Budget he handed down this week. Increased infrastructure spending was announced as part of Tuesday’s Budget and sees items from the rail freight industry’s wish list getting the green light at the same time as vital spending on new and improved rest areas for trucks get cut back. Read more
The trucking industry needs to make sure the latest infrastructure announcements aren’t just promises, promises, promises. The planned improvements are rational and will help trucking do its job into the future, but this is before the politicians have got fully involved. Read more
Diesel News has picked up stories about NSW Freight Plans, Women in Transport, Effluent Progress and Reform Report
A report by the National Transport Commission (NTC) monitors progress on national transport reform. The conclusion comes down to reckoning the reform is trending in the right direction.
“The report provides an independent assessment on how well the Transport Infrastructure Council’s nationally agreed transport reforms are being implemented in practice,” said Paul Retter, NTC CEO.
Here are some of the conclusions:
Most jurisdictions (excluding WA and NT) are now operating under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), with the last remaining milestone of the original regulatory reform due on July 1 2018 when the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator plans to have a register of heavy vehicles available for use.
The fifth HVNL amendment package was approved by the Queensland parliament in December 2016 ahead of an anticipated implementation in mid-2018.
Heavy Vehicles Standards Rules are now included in the HVNL, and the Australian Light Vehicle Standards Rules, approved by Council in May 2016, will apply to light vehicles in the future.
New Chair at Transport Women
Pam McMillan has stepped down after 18 years on the Transport Women Australia Board having served for 11 of those years as Chair over various periods. The new chair of the group is Jacquelene Brotherton.
“This is my second time as Chair and I never expected to be back in the role,” said Jacquelene. “However, with Pam retiring and Di and Coralie having been with us for only one year, it was a decision that was made with the support of the Board in keeping the association strong. And as we move forward with our new Board, I feel that – as a team – we have never been stronger.”
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association says it is making great progress on its quest to establish Australia’s first roadside effluent disposal facility in South East Queensland.
After a series of face-to-face meetings over 2017, ALRTA has secured strong support from more than 30 key stakeholders in the supply chain (producers, transporters and processors), community advocates and local, state and federal governments. Importantly, in cooperation with QLD Transport and Main Roads, it has identified a preferred site on the Warrego Highway in the Lockyer Valley with a construction target of December 2018.
The ALRTA obtained critical data from the CSIRO’s ‘TraNSIT’ strategic investment tool relating to the number of semi-trailer equivalent cattle movements past the preferred site. It has been calculated that, if constructed, the site will prevent up to 2,500,000 litres of livestock effluent from escaping into the road corridor every year.
NSW Freight Priorities
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) says the Draft Freight and Ports Plan released for comment by the NSW Government is an encouraging sign that freight efficiency is being embraced in the state’s long-term infrastructure plans.
“This Draft Plan forms an essential component of the NSW Government’s new transport vision for the state, Future Transport 2056, and demonstrates there are plans to address a number of key priorities for the freight logistics industry,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff. “Many of the priorities outlined in this Draft Plan will complement those that have been included in other significant NSW Government transport plans released over the past two months.”
“In particular, the suggestion contained in the draft Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan that a Last Mile Freight Policy be developed and implemented is one that will have the whole-hearted backing of ALC.”
People outside or new to the trucking industry often ask why there are so many industry associations and who does what. The answer can often be quite complex and the history of trucking’s relationship with governments, both state and federal, needs to illustrate where they all came from.
One of the issues we may be seeing at the moment is the associations themselves not being clear on their individual roles in the scheme of things and an appreciation of the history which has brought us to our current situation.
One important thing to state at this point is just how much better the industry representation situation is than it has been in the past. We may complain about current issues and reckon the various bodies are not taking any notice of trucking, but it is not that long ago that trucks and trucking were invisible to anyone in power and the only interface between trucking and the authorities was at the roadside, and it wasn’t a very friendly relationship.
Truckies felt themselves to be left at the bottom of the heap and largely ignored. In 1979, this boiled over into action after charges on truck owners were hiked up yet again by the New South Wales Government. The Razorback Blockade has gone down in history as a landmark and a reminder of the terrible relationship between trucking and the authorities. Some negotiations were held and the blockade finally dismantled, but little change eventuated.
Trucking operators were members of state organisations, as they are today, but the membership was relatively low and government was oblivious to much of the lobbying. A new radical association appeared out of Shepparton and quickly picked up strong membership. The National Transport Federation (NTF) spent a lot of time in the courtroom and became a disrupting influence.
During the early 1980s, the livestock industry started to get its act together, with Queensland leading the way, to be followed by all of the other states. This led inevitably to the organisation that is today the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA), which developed a strong and united voice.
1988 saw more blockades, this time in Yass and again both federal and state governments came along to talk to the blockaders. Some concessions were made to trucking but little could be expected to change in the political climate.
The following year saw a tragic catalyst for change. The Grafton and Clybucca bus and truck crashes sent a shock wave through the country and the trucking industry. The New South Wales Government came out guns blazing and it looked like the trucking industry was going to be regulated with a very heavy hand.
Quick thinking and some smart negotiating were required and, in this crisis, all of the interested groups got together to campaign against the planned changes and to come up with a solution. Everyone was in the tent, from the more conservative livestockers and state associations of the time to the feisty NTF.
From this cooperation grew the Road Transport Forum (RTF), now the Australian Trucking Association, ATA). The message coming out of the trucking industry was consistent and reasoned. Safety was brought to the top of the agenda and trucking looked to regulate itself to avoid draconian measures being adopted.
At this time input from all the parties involved created a common strategy developed through the RTF, but taken to the state governments by the state bodies. One voice of trucking was heard all over the country and a consensus policy developed.
It’s nearly thirty years since these events occurred and we seem to have forgotten the core lesson here. Coordinated measures from each interface between trucking industry representation and government is key to getting them to listen.
On the big topics there is no room for divergent messaging from trucking. There needs to be serious debate in the committee rooms and plenty of feedback from members to the associations, but when the position of our industry is presented to government it must be consistent. If not, the government will revert to the old days and ‘divide and conquer’.
This week we are talking about Road and Container Charging Plus Portal and Road Trains in Diesel News.
A new road-charging regime will be found for the trucking industry, after a decision by the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) of state and federal transport ministers. The plan is to thoroughly examine the costs and benefits of implementation of independent price regulation and a forward looking cost base, slated to come in 2018–19.
The council agreed to freeze heavy vehicle charges at 2017–18 levels for a further two years, to a mixed reaction from industry associations.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) characterised it as continuing crushing fuel and registration charges on small business truckies, with transport ministers deciding today to overtax the industry by $189.5 million next financial year.
“Australia’s trucking industry delivers every item on the shelves of every supermarket,” said Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair. “We’re an industry of small businesses that are tied up in red tape, overtaxed and then endlessly criticised.”
Meanwhile the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) was more sanguine on the subject, with its Chairman Ian Murray welcoming the new charges and the current freeze.
“ALC therefore welcomes today’s decision to commence work to assess implementation options for independent price regulation of heavy vehicle charges,” said Murray. “We similarly support the decision to freeze heavy vehicle access charges at 2017/18 levels for two years, and acknowledge the Council’s agreement on the latest legislative package to deliver improvements to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).”
From 1 January 2018, DP World Australia will introduce a surcharge of $37.65 per container received or delivered at the Botany terminal. This is an increase of $16.49 on the earlier infrastructure tax of $21.16, which DPWA imposed in April.
“Our members are stunned, they’ve effectively been hit with two big price increases at the port in less than a year,” said Simon O’Hara, Road Freight NSW General Manager. “Once again, the latest price gouge has been cynically blamed on so-called ‘increased costs’ at the port, but the ACCC (Australia Competition and Consumer Commission) has already acknowledged that extra taxes could earn DPWA and Patrick a combined revenue of $70 million, equivalent to a five to six per cent increase in unit revenues.”
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) online permitting system has been recognised for its innovation and customer-focused approach in the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Sector Management, announced in Canberra.
The NHVR Portal was one of 17 finalists in a strong field of contenders for the Award and NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto, said it was an honour to be recognised as a finalist alongside the high-calibre entries from the Australian Government, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmanian and South Australian Governments.
“I want to acknowledge the contribution and commitment of my team, industry and our government partners who have collaborated together to help us make the portal a success,” said Petroccitto.
Road Trains Australia and TruckSafe
Western Australia-based Road Trains of Australia (RTA) has been recognised for its rigorous standards in management, maintenance, training and animal welfare through the TruckSafe accreditation program.
The family owned and operated company has more than 40 years’ experience in safe and dependable livestock, fuel, bulk commodities and general freight transport throughout the north of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.
“TruckSafe is the only quality assurance program for livestock transport that enables us to manage our animal welfare compliance,” says Steve Beatty, RTA’s Northern Territory Manager.
This week the news has included NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions, as well as a revamped Access Portal, all here in Diesel News.
Road Freight NSW has announced it will become an independent organisation from January 1 2018. It is currently a subsidiary of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), after beginning as ATA NSW in 2007. Road Freight NSW says it will now work independently to campaign on policies affecting the NSW transport sector, primarily heavy vehicle safety, the regulatory regimes stifling business growth and the unwarranted surcharges, like stevedores’ port taxes, being imposed on carriers.
“We will be the local voice for local truck carriers, providing support and advocacy on behalf of our members, who now include some of the country’s largest transport companies,” said Jon Luff, Road Freight NSW Chairman. “We have enjoyed our collaboration with the ATA and its Board, Directors and General Council. It’s an exciting time for Road Freight NSW and our membership. It will prove to be a game changer for the sector.”
The first step in the Government’s road funding reforms must be to fix the overcharging of truck and bus operators, according to Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair. Truck and bus operators are estimated to be overcharged by $343 million in 2017-18 with the continuing freeze on registration charges.
“Trucking operators pay for our use of the road system through a fuel based road user charge, administered as a reduction in our fuel tax credits, and very high registration charges,” said Crouch. “These charges seek to recover the cost of the road expenditure that is due to trucks and buses.
“Authoritative new figures from the National Transport Commission, an independent government body, show that truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $343 million in 2017-18.The overcharging goes back years, and started because the charging model underestimated the number of trucks and buses on the road.”
Improved Access Portal
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says it has rolled out a number of new features in the NHVR Portal allowing operators, road managers and NHVR stakeholders to interact on the same technology platform for the first time.
“More than 400 road managers across Australia now have the ability to respond to consent requests using an online form or an NHVR Portal Form,” said David Carlisle, NHVR AccessCONNECT Program Director. “This is the first step moving away from the original email-based process, moving all users onto the same NHVR Portal interface for access applications.”
City Freight Restrictions
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) says increasing restrictions on vehicular access in CBD areas across Australia is making it increasingly difficult for the freight logistics industry to serve consumers and businesses. “To put it bluntly, Australia’s cities are not freight-friendly. This is an inevitable consequence of planning systems that do not properly account for freight movement,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director. “Australia is already one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world, and a significant proportion of the residential and employment growth projected to occur in the years ahead will be heavily concentrated in CBD areas.”
There have been announcements about a Grain Scheme, Master Code and Autonomous Rules this week, read about them on Diesel News.
The Victorian Transport Association has welcomed the establishment of the state’s first Grain Harvest Management Scheme, which will provide a productivity and safety boon for farmers and grain transport workers.
The scheme will allow heavy vehicles to increase their load by five per cent during the grain harvest season from October 1 to April 30 2018, when delivering grain to receivers who are also participating in the scheme.
“As an industry group, we welcome the scheme and the positive outcomes it will inevitably create for operator safety and productivity,” said Peter Anderson, VTA CEO. “Provisions made for bigger loads mean fewer trips for operators, which will improve their profit and safety margins.”
Master Code Development
Development of an industry master code of practice for heavy vehicle safety is progressing well with the project receiving $200,000 of Commonwealth Government funding assistance under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative program.
“Led by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the master code will help adopters to identify, assess and mitigate risks to meet their obligations under the national law and improve safety,” said Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO. “I encourage industry to be involved in the consultation workshops being conducted by ALC and ATA to develop this code which will deliver significant heavy vehicle safety benefits.”
ALC and ATA have established a company called Safe Trucking and Supply Chains Limited to develop the code of practice.
Autonomous Rules Feedback
The National Transport Commission (NTC) is asking road transport agencies, police, and industry to provide input on how Australian governments should amend driver laws to facilitate the introduction of automated vehicles.
“The introduction of more automated vehicles will see elements of the driving task shift away from the human driver to the automated driving system but our laws currently don’t recognise these systems,” said Paul Retter, NTC CEO. “We need to ensure that relevant driving laws apply to automated vehicles when the automated driving system—rather than the human driver—is operating the vehicle.”
This work is one of seven projects—five of which are being led by the NTC and a further two led by the states/territories but for which the NTC is coordinating the findings and subsequent ministerial recommendations. These projects were approved by ministers in November 2016 as part of the NTC’s roadmap of reform to support the commercial deployment of automated vehicles.
Sometimes we are too close to our own industry – we need a new perspective on trucking. In its submission to the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has come up with an interesting comparison. It is looking at the freight industry from the consumer’s point of view, in the same way as it perceives the energy industry.
Both industries are invisible to the end-user of our services, the not-so-humble consumer. What the industry does to supply their needs is not their concern or worry. The assumption is the light will go on when they flick a switch, there will not be a blackout unless there is a serious natural event like winds, storms or floods. The energy industry is taken as given.
In the same way, the consumer will order some goods online and expect them to turn up at their address when they are supposed and not a day later. Similarly, when they arrive at the supermarket, the shelves will be full of goods, there will not be a shortage of breakfast cereal or milk and there will be no huge jump in price unless a major natural event, like a cyclone, devastates the banana-growing industry, for example.
For the energy industry the problems have arrived at the consumer’s door. There have been outages in South Australia and massive price hikes across the country. The sleeping giant has been awoken, and the public wants someone’s head, or at least a cheap and consistent supply of electricity. Politics has entered the scene, and the energy industry is now a political football to be passed from one policy maker to another.
The consumer is calling for something to be done and the electricity companies themselves are seen to be to blame. In fact, it is an initial policy failure on the part of state governments that has set the ball rolling with an unclear future path for the energy industry leading to a reluctance to invest in infrastructure.
Now, let’s look at the trucking industry from this perspective. There is some realisation of the need for substantial infrastructure spending on roads, on the part of government. Whether it is enough is another matter. Major road infrastructure projects are sold to the public on their benefits to commuters and it’s all about reducing queues for car drivers. Improvements for the road freight industry only come as an afterthought or to pander to anti-truck campaigners.
Other improvements to productivity are hampered by government’s fear of a public reaction to large trucks on the road. This, despite the fact most members of the public do not register the fact there are larger combinations on the roads around them.
So, we have a piecemeal infrastructure investment policy and roads agencies hampering increased productivity in road freight. This, in the face of an economy starting to spark into life and a freight task that multiplies with any economic growth.
With such a diverse industry, we can’t predict how fast online shopping or urban road congestion will grow; we need to be working now for sensible investment and road policies. The trucking industry needs to ensure it doesn’t get punted into the naughty corner by our politicians, if cereal isn’t on the supermarket shelf, or if little Johnny’s new game controller is going to turn up late.