Getting With the Program

Promises, Promises, Promises

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

Stability Control For All Trucks

Stability Control For All Trucks

Bringing in a measure to mandate stability control for all trucks seems to be approved of by many around the trucking industry. With the need to continue to improve safety outcomes for trucking, and the general community, this would seem to be a consensus view.


Stability Control For All Trucks


In a submission lodged with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities on, NatRoad urged the Government to require all new heavy vehicles and trailers to be fitted with electronic stability control (ESC) or roll stability control (RSC).


“The consultation regulation impact statement sets out the case for mandating ESC for new heavy trucks and buses and RSC for heavy trailers, through modification of the Australian Design Rules,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO. “The preferred Government option is to limit this mandatory requirement to heavy vehicles exclusive of heavy rigid vehicles. It does so based on the assumption that there is a higher probability of prime movers being involved in a fatal or serious injury crash involving a rollover or loss of control.


“But NatRoad supports broader implementation because we place road safety as a top priority. The NatRoad preferred option is projected by the Government to save an additional 24 lives over 15 years and avoid an additional 412 serious injuries to workers and the public.


“Whilst this comes at an additional cost to industry, NatRoad supports the use of engineering controls as a reasonably practicable measure to minimise the hazards and associated risks of roll-overs. We are therefore supportive of the prospective mandating of ESC and RSC systems in new heavy vehicles.


“The Government proposals about timing are supported. They provide an adequate lead-in time for the industry to adapt.”


In a similar vein the submission to the Government from the Heavy Vehicle Industry Association highlights the disincentives for trucking operators to update their fleet to include vehicles with improved safety technology.


“There are a significant number of ways that Government can also influence fleet purchases ranging from changing taxation policy, to removing constraints on access for vehicles fitted with the latest technology,” said Greg Forbes, HVIA’s National Policy & Government Relations Manager. “To accelerate the take up rate of new safety technologies it is important that operators are encouraged to buy new vehicles.


“Current statistics suggest, however, that the rate of purchase of new vehicles is slowing, resulting in an ageing of the fleet. Indirectly, the current regulatory environment has created strong disincentives for operators to purchase a new vehicle based on available load capacity.


Stability Control For All Trucks


“Even though there may be fuel savings, additional safety and productivity features available to the operator, purchasing a new vehicle is not an attractive proposition to a significant number of operators. Updates to vehicle technology has resulted in increases in heavy vehicle tare mass over the last 20 years when considering identically specified vehicles.


“Unless government address some of these current indirect factors – mandating the new braking standards will not see the majority of heavy vehicles with ABS, ESC and/or RSC until after the 2030 to 2035 time frame.


“Even a small reduction of average age will see an improvement in ABS penetration, as many OEM’s began fitting ABS as standard.”


What’s Going On in Mackay?

What’s Going On in Mackay?

The trucking industry in Central Queensland is asking what’s going on in Mackay? This is after the Mackay Regional Council (MRC) came up with new rules on heavy vehicle parking.


The new rules state:


Residents can not park their heavy vehicle on private property or premise. An individual can be fined $1000 and a business $5000. This is stated in council’s current planning schemes.


On street


Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 motorists are not permitted to park their heavy vehicles on streets in residential or built up areas.


Council’s Technical Services Officers and Queensland Police Officers will attend to on-street heavy vehicle parking complaints.


You can lodge a complaint with council by phoning 1300 MACKAY (622 529) or visiting council’s website. Council will attend to non-urgent complaints during business hours.


What’s Going On in Mackay?


Those opposed to this measure point out many locals have invested in rural properties, so they are able to drive their work vehicles to their own home to park for convenience, security and minimise fatigue.


The proposed Local Law could exacerbate fatigue issues if drivers cannot find a suitable place to park near their home.


NatRoad, the Queensland Trucking Association, Agforce and the Transport Workers Union have all sent submissions to the MRC about their proposed Local Law No. 8 (Heavy Vehicle Parking) 2017.


All of them have stated their strong opposition to this draconian measure. The measure is seen as anti-competitive likely to seriously hamper local transport businesses.


“If ‘heavy vehicle’ drivers are not allowed to park their vehicles on their own properties. As there are no heavy vehicle parking areas in Mackay, where are people expected to park?” asks the NatRoad submission. “Who will provide security and deliver the driver to their homes and back to their vehicles each day?


“There may be valid reasons for imposing restrictions on trucks and semi-trailers parking on residential blocks in urban areas. However, the proposed Local Law also applies to all rural properties, regardless of their size.”


The submissions also list some more aspects of the rules which are unreasonable:

  • Only one heavy vehicle may be parked on the residential premises at any time – this should be subject to the size and layout of the property
  • The heavy vehicle must be parked in a class 10 building
  • The heavy vehicle must not be visible from any roadway
  • The heavy vehicle may only enter and exit the property after 6.30am and before 6.30pm



Diesel News' Guide to the Twitterverse

Diesel News’ Guide to the Twitterverse

Welcome to this weeks’ Diesel News’ Guide to the Twitterverse, where we pick up news and gossip snippets from trucking around Australia.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is getting all of the industry’s stakeholders in one room. The photo suggests there is an air of calm in the room. Are some of them asleep?

More support and coverage for the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls, doing a great job over in Karratha.

Trying to resolve the driver expenses issue.

A toaster in a truck, whatever next?

Remain Vigilant

No Room For Internal Bickering

In the light of the news Chris Melham is moving on from his post at the Australian Trucking Association, the trucking community must keep forging ahead. There is no room for internal bickering or territory battles, the industry is still facing major issues and needs to remain united and continue to fight the good fight.


Since his arrival as CEO at NatRoad, some time ago, and then his move across to the ATA last year, Chris has been all about dialogue. There has not been a lot of standing on the stump and shouting the odds, although there are sometimes occasions when this is required! No, we have seen a steady improvement in the communication between the trucking industry and other stakeholders.


The improvement in the relationships we need has been tangible. We do not need to be in a situation where the National Transport Commission, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator or various transport ministers are subject to  a haranguing in private and unexpected comments in public.


Those in charge of policy and regulation need to feel comfortable in their communication with the industry, they need to know there is going to be a rational discourse where hard things may be said, but each is able to get their side across and work towards some form of consensus.


All of the big improvements achieved have been when the ATA and others have been able to sit down in a room, lay their cards on the table, make assurances and gain concessions until something has been done. Trucking needs to make decision makers in Canberra and the state capitals comfortable, then the level of trust improves, then they tend to stop threatening the big stick.


The current big stick seems to be being wielded by the NSW Industrial Commission with the move to extend the provisions of the General Carriers Contract Determination being extended from just Sydney to cover the whole of NSW. This is causing a great deal of concern among many in the industry as it will have a similar effect to the RSRT, whose abolition came after massive protests in the lead up to the last election.


On this subject, one of Chris’s successors, Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO, is having to stand up and shout the odds. This fight is one of those where the pressure needs to be kept on those involved, while the industry needs to mobilise in readiness for any actions the Industrial Commission may mount.


The situation is in danger of degenerating into a war of words between NatRoad and the Transport Workers Union, one thing we always need to avoid, but cannot step back from when push comes to shove.


In this situation, the ATA can get itself in a difficult position. Officially, it does not handle industrial relations issues, but needs to be clear on its position as to issues like this. At the same time, everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet.


With Chris moving on we need to find another operator to fulfil quite a difficult task. The CEO of the ATA actually has a relative few members to deal with, mainly the state-based and national associations, but these all have a large number of vociferous members who see the ATA as representing them and look to it to do the right thing, in their opinion, for trucking at all times.


Remain Vigilant

Take It Back To Sydney

With the slogan ‘Take It Back To Sydney’, NatRoad are showing a different way to approach the issues which directly affect the trucking industry. It seems the fight earlier in the year to bring down the RSRT has given the association a new lease of life.


The association seems to be getting back in touch with its roots, in more ways than one. Yes, it is working hard to engage the grass roots membership and issues calls to action, like the take it back to Sydney website and petition.


This is the fight against the iniquitous extension of the General Contract Carriers Determination from a Sydney area freight rates control structure into one covering the whole of New South Wales, and, by implication, involving a massive proportion of the trucking industry. It’s the RSRT in another guise.


NatRoad reckon 13,000 trucking businesses could be hit with a potential 30 per cent hike in rates with $10,000 in potential fines for non-compliance. This, like the RSRT, is unlikely to affect the big players, but will see transport companies shying away from hiring smaller owner/driver type operations to handle some of their work.


There is a petition to sign on the website. NatRoad are calling for 10,000 signatures to get the issue raised in the NSW Parliament.


This kind of aggressive issue-based activity recalls earlier days in the history of the association. In the late eighties, the National Transport Forum, which later united with the Long Distance Road Transport Association to form NatRoad, campaigned in a similar style.


In fact, it campaigned in a much more aggressive style. The NTF was not afraid of getting people’s backs up and creating a bit of well directed havoc. This activity, taking on the major interests controlling freight at the time, simply reflected the fears and frustrations of a wide range of smaller road transport players around the country.


Now, those blockades, black bans and court appearances were also targeted to cause the most disruption possible, but they were desperate times. The trucking industry was out of control and, in many cases, its own worst enemy, but these were people with genuine concerns. There was also a culture of completely ignoring the rules and carrying on regardless at the time, which exacerbated issues.


In the intervening 25 to 30 years the world has changed. The culture in trucking has now embraced change and needs to be seen as safe and compliant. Running a trucking operation requires a calm head and rational safe systems, even at the owner/driver level.


However, this doesn’t mean we can’t get a fire in the belly when a major issue puts its head above the parapet. There is passion in this industry and it’s part of what makes working in trucking so worthwhile.


Sometimes, I think we are losing some of that passion and turning trucking into any other industry. Then I see campaigns like the one against the RSRT, and now this one against the GCCD and my faith in the truckie’s nature is restored.


More United and More Proactive

More United and More Proactive

Getting the industry more united and more proactive is the aim of Warren Clark in pushing forward the trucking agenda. Moving ahead with NatRoad is now the task for Clark, who took over as CEO at the Canberra HQ of the National Road Transport Association, better known as NatRoad last year.


More United and More Proactive


He could have expected a relatively smooth transition into the role. The period up to Christmas rarely holds many surprises in the halls of power of the nation’s capital. This was before the introduction of the RSRT, happily, now abolished.


Clark’s job now is to ensure the issue does not drop off the radar. Labor has indicated they will bring the RSRT back in, in some form. NatRoad will be working to build belief in a credible alternative.


“What NatRoad is going to do is reassess, proactively, what the genuine trucking operator needs and how it effects them,” said Clark. “We’re putting plans in place to give value to our members before it’s at a crisis point. More united and more proactive, with a better link to our grassroots and a greater link back to the politicians, to make sure, when legislation is being implemented, it has real input from industry.


“When these Senators stand up on the Senate floor, we want them fully informed. We are very conscious of how segregated the industry is and we are trying to unite it so these people don’t have to worry about things they have no control over. As an individual you have no control, but as a body we can control it for them.


“We are looking at improved safety through technology, facilities, training, education and communication. They are never going to go off the radar, but while the original fight was about safety, the underlying result is, are these guys still in business? We are going to branch off and look at things like unfair contracts, payment terms, waiting times, those sorts of things.”


In the period between the abolition of the RSRT and the Federal Election, NatRoad and other associations had the opportunity to look at where they stand, and who’s who in the zoo.


“I think we have learned who our friends are, we’ve worked out, groups who work for large organisations, who are pushing that barrel,” said Clark. “Well, we’re pushing the barrel of the owner/driver and the fleet operator for the betterment of the industry, not just a couple of big clients.


We are rebranding NatRoad, we’re making operators aware of how the system works. It’s a system which can work really well for them. They’re not just a number, they can be a voice and we have the best interests of industry at heart and we are going to push to get things done. If we can’t do it, we will push it up the tree to the Australian Trucking Association and they will be able to help.


“It is important to understand, industry can’t knock down everything which gets put up. At some stage, industry has to work with a few new things. This is where the NHVR is going. If we don’t accept genuine improvements then you will get new RSRTs all of the time. We need to get that across.”

Remain Vigilant

I’m Looking Out For a Hero

I’m looking out for a hero after last week’s NatRoad conference ended with gongs being handed out to veteran members of the two associations which merged to form the current organisation, back in the nineties. It was a time for a bit of nostalgia and there is always someone whose speech can go on a little bit too long.


This longevity of service can be a good thing, showing loyalty and industry involvement over a long period is how a person giving back to their community, trucking. It also enables the association to understand its own history, helping to inform future decisions.


What is surprising, however, is how many of these long term members still form the backbone of many of the industry associations. Where is the next generation in all of this? And the next generation after that? There are some notable and effective exceptions, but the numbers are quite low.


Trace back the history of the veterans and you can often find a particular crisis which stirred their passions and got them out there fighting for their rights or the survival of their business. There are some great stories told and fantastic camaraderie was built up between these people.


There doesn’t seem to be the same kind of culture growing around the fight top stop the RSRT earlier this year. If the younger generations got involved it was short lived, there has not been the radicalisation of people involved in the industry which spurs them on to get involved and precipitate change.


We have to ask ourselves whether this is because the crisis just wasn’t as severe and people really didn’t feel threatened by the situation. Could it be something to do with this particular generation? Are they not engaging as a general rule in anything outside of their immediate circle?


They do talk about a growing lack of engagement in society with politics as a whole. The lack of lots of young vibrant activists in trucking may just be a symptom of a wider malaise.


The problem for us is this does not bode well for the future. Those veterans are getting older and they will stop engaging quite so much as they do now, over time. This is likely to create a vacuum in some situations, not enough people to sit on committees and organise campaigns.


What do we know about vacuums? Something will always come along and fill it. If there are not enough younger people stepping up and filling those chairs in the meetings being held, there are others who will. Others who don’t necessarily have the best interests of trucking, as a whole, in their hearts. People who have an agenda, looking for political gain, driven by self-interest.


It would seem to be the time for the trucking industry as a whole to look to its young people, look for those with the best motives and invite them into the room where the decisions are being made. Give them real responsibility for the future and let the sensible caring majority run the show and silence those with less honourable intentions.