Trucking Slammed in the Media

Road and Container Charging Plus Portal and Road Trains

This week we are talking about Road and Container Charging Plus Portal and Road Trains in Diesel News.

Road and Container Charging Plus Portal and Road Trains

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).”

Road and Container Charging Plus Portal and Road Trains

Fees Hike

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.”

Portal Award

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.

NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions

NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions

This week the news has included NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions, as well as a revamped Access Portal, all here in Diesel News.

NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions

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.”

NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions
Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair.

Fix Overcharging


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.”

NSW Independence, Overcharging and Freight Restrictions
David Carlisle, NHVR AccessCONNECT Program Director.

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.”

West Gate Tunnel, Tax Fight, Bulk Tippers and Aldi

West Gate Tunnel, Tax Fight, Bulk Tippers and Aldi

It’s all happening in the trucking industry this week, there’s the West Gate Tunnel, Tax Fight, Bulk Tippers and Aldi, all getting a run in Diesel News.


Peter Anderson, VTA CEO.
Peter Anderson, VTA CEO.


A requirement for the operator of the proposed West Gate Tunnel to offer financial incentives and discounts for freight operators that use the new connection is expected to encourage heavy vehicles to use the road, creating productivity improvements for operators and amenity gains for residents of Melbourne’s inner west.


West Gate Tunnel, Tax Fight, Bulk Tippers and Aldi
Luke Donellan, Victorian Roads Minister.

Luke Donnellan, Victorian Roads Minister, announced the Victorian Government will provide further incentives for the transport and logistics industry to use the West Gate Tunnel when the road is built, in the form of discounted shuttle rates, caps on maximum daily tolls for trucks making multiple trips through the tunnel, and night-time discounts.


“We are pleased that the Victorian Government has listened to the Victorian Trucking Association’s consistent calls for heavy vehicle operators to be incentivised to use toll roads like the West Gate Tunnel,” said Peter Anderson, VTA CEO. “The transport industry has been hit with substantial increases to tolls and infrastructure costs at the Port of Melbourne this year, so it is encouraging that steps are being taken by the Government to ensure heavy-vehicle operators are not penalised for using toll roads.”


Interstate Alliance


Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has joined forces with its interstate counterpart the Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) in a renewed fight against extra surcharges imposed by stevedores at ports across the country.


RFNSW General Manager Simon O’Hara met with WARTA Executive Officer Cam Dumesny while observing freight movements in and out of the Port Botany terminals and getting feedback from carriers about the impact the new levies were having on their day-to-day operations.


“In New South Wales and Western Australia, truck operators, particularly those smaller, family-run businesses, are hurting,” said Simon O’Hara, RFNSW General Manager. “RFNSW and WARTA have now decided to use our collective strength in bringing the stevedores to account, for the sake of our members. Again, we make the point that at ports across the country, stevedores have imposed these taxes on hardworking truck operators without any regulatory scrutiny.


Grain Results


In New South Wales, Roads and Maritime Services has released the NSW Grain Harvest Management Scheme (GHMS) Report for the harvest period, July 2015 to June 2016, including data received from 18 of the 21 participating grain receivers.


Eighty per cent (9,578,057 tonnes) of the grain deliveries for the period were delivered using the GHMS concession, and 186,906 vehicle trips used the GHMS concession. Six-axle prime mover/semi-trailer combinations moved almost 39 per cent of the total grain transport task


The most grain transported over this period was wheat, accounting for 65 per cent of all deliveries, 4.1 per cent of all deliveries were recorded as being over on mass and 4.3 per cent of GHMS deliveries were above GHMS mass limits.


TWU Protest


The Transport Workers Union (TWU) reckons over 500 truck drivers and their supporters protested at an Aldi supermarket in Mt Druitt, Sydney, protesting about the retailer’s refusal to ensure safety in its transport supply chain.


“Aldi cannot silence drivers,” said driver Mark Trevillian, said in a TWU statement. “We are on the road every day and we see the pressure transport workers are under. We want Aldi to be part of the solution and get on board to stop the carnage.”


ACT Permits

West Gate Tunnel, Tax Fight, Bulk Tippers and Aldi

Roads ACT has handed back the processing of Class 1 heavy vehicle permit applications for the Australian Capital Territory to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). The NHVR will process all heavy vehicle permit applications that were previously processed by Roads ACT for travel in the Australian Capital Territory.


Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation

Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation

This week has seen an Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation coming onto the agenda in a real way.



According to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the epic size of the tax office’s failure to consult about its decision to slash employee truck driver travel expenses has got industry associations up in arms.


During the 2017–18 income year, the tax office will allow employee truck drivers to claim just $55.30 per day in travel expenses (excluding accommodation) without detailed receipts. In 2016–17, the amount allowed was $97.40. In the same determination, the tax office increased the reasonable food and drink allowance for comparable employees in other industries from $106.90 per day to $109.35 per day.

Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation
Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair.


“Even the tax office has now admitted that it did not receive a single response from trucking industry associations in response to the paper,” said Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair. “The lack of responses should have been a red flag for the tax office that something had gone wrong with its consultation process. One of their highly paid staff, who all receive travel allowance without needing to lodge receipts, should have picked up the phone, sent a follow-up email or called a meeting. But nobody bothered.


NatRoad is also urging the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to reconsider its reduction in travel allowances for 2017–18.


“At a time where the Federal Government and industry are working together to reduce the compliance burden on road-freight businesses and their employees, this change negatively impacts small businesses and their employees,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO. “It is important to get further clarity from the ATO on this difficult issue and have further consultation. NatRoad considers that the reduction will cause undue hardship to the industry. In meeting with the ATO, we hope to find a more practical solution for the industry.”


Call in the ACCC

Epic Fail by the ATO, ACCC Involved in Road Tolls and National Harmonisation
Ben Maguire, ATA CEO.


Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), should take over regulating toll road and landside port charges, according to Ben Maguire, ATA CEO.


“Toll road charges for trucks are growing rapidly,” said Maguire. “Small trucking businesses simply cannot afford them. Although these charges are set by state governments, the arrangements for setting them are not transparent and do not take into account costs across the supply chain.


“The ATA and its members have similar concerns about landside port charges. Earlier in 2017, DP World unilaterally increased the infrastructure surcharge at its Melbourne terminal and imposed a new surcharge of $21.16 per container at its Port Botany terminal. ATA member association Road Freight NSW pointed out that the Port Botany surcharge could cost carriers up to $150,000 per year.


Improving Harmony


The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has met with industry representatives in Canberra to provide a briefing on the National Harmonisation Program (NHP), which aims to minimise the compliance burden by reducing duplication and inconsistencies across state and territory borders.


The first phase of the NHP is aiming to develop:

National HML Declaration

Class 2 B-double Notice

Class 2 Road Train Notice

Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Notice


Currently, there is a range of different notices established across the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) states and territories that include inconsistent definitions and conditions for routes, days, hours and vehicles.


TCA Sponsors Award


Transport Certification Australia (TCA) is to sponsor the Application of Technology Award (Shaun Owen Memorial) at the 28th Australian Freight Industry Awards (AFIAs). The awards are being hosted by the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) on 2 September 2017, and recognise outstanding achievements and excellence in the Australian freight industry, across six award categories.

Brett Wright Retires, Victoria Extends Length Allowance, TruckSafe on Infrastructure Projects and Road Building in the Territory

Brett Wright Retires, Victoria Extends Length Allowance, TruckSafe on Infrastructure Projects and Road Building in the Territory

This week in Diesel News, it’s all happening. Brett Wright Retires, Victoria Extends Length Allowance, TruckSafe on Infrastructure Projects and Road Building in the Territory.


Brett Wright Retires, Victoria Extends Length Allowance, TruckSafe on Infrastructure Projects and Road Building in the Territory

Heavy Vehicle Industry Association (HVIA) CEO, Brett Wright, has announced his impending retirement from his current role.


“It is with many great memories, fondness and pride that I announce my leaving HVIA,” said Wright. “I have been privileged, firstly to have been given the opportunity to work for the Commercial Vehicle Industry Association of Queensland (CVIAQ) all those years ago and then to continue to lead it over the last twenty years culminating in its transformation into a truly national industry body, HVIA, in 2015.”


Wright began his career at the predecessor to the HVIA, the CVIAQ, in 1996 and took over the role of CEO shortly after. During his tenure, the organisation has been instrumental in advocating for the heavy-vehicle industry on many major issues and most notably through the transition to Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)under the auspices of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).


Wright has represented the industry on numerous peak regulatory committees and working groups on issues ranging from Australian Design Rules (ADRs), Performance Based Standards (PBS), Vehicle Modification to Workforce Development programs and National Training Package development.


Increased Access for Long Vehicles

Brett Wright Retires, Victoria Extends Length Allowance, TruckSafe on Infrastructure Projects and Road Building in the Territory

VicRoads has announced access for Level 2 PBS-approved High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs) up to 30 metres in length carrying cubic/volumetric freight will be improved significantly across Victoria’s road network.


Operators with combinations up to 30.0 metres in length and 68.5 tonnes (no heavier than a conventional B-double) can access a significant portion of the arterial road network under an annual permit provided they comply with the PBS Level 2 standards.


The map page and map can be found here.


TruckSafe and Construction Contracts

Brett Wright Retires, Victoria Extends Length Allowance, TruckSafe on Infrastructure Projects and Road Building in the Territory

According to Ben Maguire, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) CEO, the federal and state governments should improve safety on major infrastructure projects by making TruckSafe accreditation a mandatory part of construction contracts. The statement followed an event where Maguire joined Chief Inspector Phil Brooks, as NSW Police and RMS officers inspected construction trucks working on the WestConnex project in Sydney.


“It was impressive to see first-hand how the NSW Police delivered such a professional intervention to raise the standards on our roads,” said Maguire. “But they shouldn’t have had to do the inspections at all. The professional, safe trucking businesses that join ATA member associations like Road Freight NSW and our safety management scheme, TruckSafe, are sick and tired of hearing reports about the small minority of unsafe trucks on the road.


“Sydney has a decade of major infrastructure work ahead. Governments and businesses need to act now to make construction trucks safer. The Australian and state governments should make TruckSafe accreditation, or its equivalent, a mandatory part of construction contracts.”


Tax Change Concerns


The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has said it agrees with the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and other industry groups about a recent Australian Taxation Office (ATO) determination that will reduce how much drivers can claim for travel on their tax returns.


ATO Determination TD 2017/19, issued on 3 July, has reduced the ‘reasonable amount’ that an employee driver, or an owner-driver, may claim for travel expenses without substantiation by $42.10, which translates to a 43 per cent reduction.


VTA CEO Peter Anderson, in his capacity as Secretary and Treasurer of ARTIO, has written to the ATO to express concern about the lack of consultation with industry about the Determination, along with the impact such a significant reduction will have on individual drivers and their income.


“We are amazed the ATO has made such a far-reaching Determination that will leave drivers and their families so significantly out of pocket without bothering to inform the industry,” said Anderson.


Victoria Highway Upgrade


Works to strengthen the Victoria Highway between Western Australian and the Northern Territory will soon be under way, with the contract to deliver the $35.5 million bridge replacement projects at Big Horse and Little Horse Creeks awarded to Northern Territory business Allan King and Sons.


“The Victoria Highway is the only sealed link between the Northern Territory and Western Australia, which means this upgrade project is critical to the keeping the Perth to Darwin freight corridor open for business,” said Darren Chester, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. “This project will replace the existing bridges of Big Horse and Little Horse Creeks to 1-in-20-year flood immunity standards, consistent with other crossings along the Victoria Highway. It will create approximately 60 jobs, 10 of which will be allocated as Indigenous positions.”


The new bridges ill replace the existing crossings with higher structures, along with raised road approaches and culverts at low points to minimise the impact of flooding.



Remain Vigilant

Sensible Car Drivers?

Is it too much to ask for the trucking industry to be able to deal with sensible car drivers? The biggest risk to safety on our highways is those people driving cars. They are the least observant, most likely to speed and prone to fatigue-related crashes, especially around holiday time.


Car drivers are the bane of the truckie’s life, lacking any kind of consideration for truck drivers and manoeuvring dangerously around them. If there is one thing we need to fix to improve road safety it is the standard of car driving.


The biggest problem is the lack of knowledge in the car driving community about trucks, the way they perform and what they can and cannot do. Car drivers tend to exhibit fear around trucks and will tend to panic if the truck does anything they don’t understand.


It’s a recipe for disaster – the car driver feels threatened by the truck and can react impulsively, but doesn’t know whether the truck can or will stop, or manoeuvre out of the way. At the same time, the poor truckie is surrounded by a number of smaller vehicles, which are likely react irrationally to anything they may do.


The solution is improved awareness, on the part of the car driver, about the way to interact with trucks out on the highway. This was the point put to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee this week by Simon O’Hara, General Manager at Road Freight NSW.


He called on the Federal Government to create a “special industry-led national working group to better educate motorists on interacting with heavy vehicles in order to reduce the number of road accidents estimated to be costing the Australian economy $33 billion a year.”


The accidents we, in trucking, are particularly concerned with are those where a truck is involved with a light vehicle, as we know at least 87 per cent of accidents involving a truck and another vehicle, which result in a fatality, is caused by the other vehicle, not the truck.


However, due to the massive difference in scale – a two-tonne SUV up against something like a B-double running at over 60 tonnes – the fatality is likely to be in the car rather than the truck. Car drivers need to understand the dangers they are living with and a little knowledge would go a long way in calming their nerves and making their manoeuvring a little more rational.


Simply clarifying what the truck driver can and can’t see would improve the situation. The truckie has a grandstand seat in the situation, is much higher and can see all of the vehicles around the truck. They are going to see a problem developing well before the, much lower, car driver becomes aware.


The truckie is also much more experienced, has travelled a hell of a lot more kilometres and been in these situations thousands of times. If improved knowledge could build some trust on the part of the car driver for the truckie’s care and skills, we would go a long way towards fewer accidents out on the highway.


Of course, the flip side to this is how well the trucking industry keeps its own house in order. We do not need some bull-headed idiots driving aggressively at cars, leading to the car driver throwing any improved knowledge out of the window – then we are back to square one.

We can lobby for the Feds to stump up some cash to improve car driver knowledge and behaviour, but we, as an industry, have to clamp down on any misbehaviour, for real! Risk-taking truck drivers are capable of destroying years of good work in one stroke and this is something we can ill afford.



Talking Turkey About Trucking

RMS Do It Again

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but every time we think we have taken a pace forward, RMS pops up and takes us back. This time the, consistent, Roads and Maritime Services in NSW seem to have wound back the clock to the days when all the rules in each state were different.



The bone of contention this time? The ridiculous assertion heavy haulage drivers using dollies need an MC license to drive a semi trailer. This is an issue which was under discussion, but the RMS seem to have decided to be pedantic and start giving tickets to those drivers who fail to comply. This requirement will not apply to visiting drivers from states who do allow the holders of HC licences to drive dolly/low loader combinations, but will force all heavy haul operators in NSW to ensure their drivers have an MC license in order to drive a semi using a dolly.



As of yesterday, Road Freight NSW’s General Manager, Jodie Broadbent, issued an urgent warning to operators to be aware the RMS had decided to end the moratorium on enforcement yesterday.



“As you know, RFNSW has been working with NSW RMS in an attempt to resolve a long-standing issue with the licensing requirements for the drivers of combinations including low loader dollies,” said Jodie, in the notice. “RMS takes the view that the driver of a dolly/low loader combination vehicle must hold an MC licence.



“RFNSW secured a moratorium on the enforcement of this requirement, initially until 30 September 2015. We believed the moratorium would continue on an ongoing basis. We have now been advised that RMS will enforce the requirement to hold an MC licence from today, October 1 2015.”



Click here to read the official line from the RMS on the latest decision. 



This seems to be wrong in so many ways. It’s funny, these sticks being thrown into the bike wheel of national consistency always come from the RMS at the same time as the National Heavy Vehicle regulator announces progress in the drive for national consistency.



The RMS had already agreed to a moratorium until this issue was sorted out. This suggests the judgement was made road safety would not be compromised by allowing HC license holders to drive low loaders with dollies. How come that is not the case this month? Plus, the interstate drivers have been deemed safe, even though they only hold an HC.



Unfortunately, the only conclusion we can come to is mischief making. Perhaps, the whole of NSW is throwing a hissy fit because they don’t have a team in either of the grand finals this weekend!

Welcome Road Freight NSW

The former ATANSW is now to be known as Road Freight NSW. It is New South Wales’ own road transport industry member association, providing NSW trucking operators with a voice on issues affecting the transport industry. With a significant focus around the major ports of Newcastle, Port Botany and Port Kembla, Road Freight NSW provides advocacy services, workplace relations advice, industry updates and extensive benefits to its members.



Road Freight NSW says it is an apolitical organisation, dedicated to representing its members in discussions with governments, road freight agencies and other bodies.


Jodie Broadbent with PM Tony Abbot, at the launch of Road Freight NSW
Jodie Broadbent with PM Tony Abbot, at the launch of Road Freight NSW



“Our members’ united voice is at the forefront of all our discussions with road freight stakeholders,” said Jon Luff, Road Freight NSW Chairman. “We also provide members with essential workplace relations advice and up-to-date industry information. Large or small, our members benefit from our specialisation in road freight transport and understanding of how road freight integrates within the whole supply chain.”



Road Freight NSW General Manager, Jodie Broadbent, has said the organisation will continue to advocate for better treatment for trucking operators, including improving unfair contract terms.



“Over the past few months, I have received a number of disturbing complaints from members who have been the subject of extraordinary lengthy payment terms, up to 120 days,” said Broadbent. “It is our opinion that clients who seek to rip off hardworking operators and their drivers should be dealt the full force of the law.



“Road transport operators are proud to fulfil their workplace remuneration obligations to their employees, but must in turn be afforded reasonable terms by the organisations they serve. We will be increasing our representation in this area as we seek fair treatment for our members.”



For more information about Road Freight NSW, contact Jodie Broadbent on