In the news this week we have seen GCCD, fatigue, fuel tax and fixing country roads, plus PBS and infrastructure strategy, on the agenda.
Proposed amendments to the General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD) look like they will have answered many of the trucking industry’s concerns. The proposal to cover all freight in NSW has been reduced to coverage of mandatory rates to Sydney and two transport corridors to Wollongong and Newcastle.
It looks like the rules will apply only to particular sectors including general, furniture and refrigerated. Exempt categories are expected to include livestock transport primary produce to or from land used for primary production, use of a specialist vehicle such as a tippers or those described as common carrier, as opposed to a contract carrier, who transports materials for only one customer.
Federal Transport Minister, Darren Chester, has announced an $828,000 investment in a Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Project. The project will be a collaborative effort between the National Transport Commission, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, universities and industry.
The aim of the research will be to assess the current fatigue framework and better inform future fatigue policy. The funding has been committed for the next two years to ensure that the research is finalised and available to Ministers in 2018.
Geoff Crouch, Managing Director of Ron Crouch Transport and Vice Chair of the Australian Trucking Association has called for legislative change to the Fuel Tax Act to encourage regular maintenance of trucks, saying it is key to ensuring vehicles continue to meet emissions standards, regardless of their age.
This was the message delivered by Geoff Crouch, Managing Director of Ron Crouch Transport and Vice Chair of the Australian Trucking Association during his presentation this week.
“Trucks need regular maintenance in order to meet emission standards and amending the eligibility for fuel tax credits would provide a powerful incentive for regular maintenance,” said Crouch, at a Mercedes Benz Dealer Conference. “Contained within the Fuel Tax Act are a set of environmental conditions that for trucking operators must meet to qualify for fuel tax credits. A truck has to be manufactured on or after 1 January 1996, or meet one of three maintenance or testing criteria.”
When the Fuel Tax Act was first introduced, 61 per cent of the truck fleet was manufactured before 1996 and had to meet a maintenance or testing criteria in order to claim fuel tax credits. In 2016 this has fallen to just 33 per cent of the fleet.
The Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association has ramped up its focus on identifying recipients of public funding under round one and two of the NSW Fixing Country Roads program which are yet to deliver what they promised, specifically improved heavy vehicle access, despite successful completion of road improvements.
Abington Creek Bridge on Thunderbolt’s Way is an example of funding being received and upgrades being completed to allow heavy vehicles operating at higher mass limits (HML) and under the livestock loading scheme (LLS) access to the upgraded infrastructure. Abington Creek Bridge is now a 450metre long, dual-lane concrete bridge yet the local council refuses to allow this access.
“Accountability is paramount when it comes to the expenditure of public funding”, said Lynley Miners, LBRCA President. “The changing of the goal posts is unacceptable and is an obvious constraint to achieving productivity and access benefits across NSW”.
The NHVR has said it will consider mechanisms proposed by Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) to ensure a safer, higher productivity fleet and to protect the ongoing viability of the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme.
Geoff Casey, the NHVR’s Executive Director, Productivity and Safety, pointed to the current Austroads PBS Standard, Directional Stability Under Braking project, due to report back in mid-2017. The review is expected to make a series of recommendations about high productivity PBS approved vehicles.
“The NHVR is of the opinion that it would be beneficial to consider the outcomes of the Austroads research before any potential changes in the PBS Vehicle Assessment Rules are considered,” said Casey.
The Australian Logistics Council has welcomed the tabling of Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy in the Victoria Parliament, as an important milestone to bolster national supply chain investment and reform.
“The Strategy will feed into the issues that are put under the infrastructure microscope as the Government undertakes an independent inquiry to inform the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director. “I look forward to the Strategy’s recommendations filling some of the gaps in the broader national freight supply chain puzzle, which must be addressed to create a truly national freight supply chain network.”