It Begins Again

Talking Turkey About Trucking

Happy New Year to all our readers from Let’s hope it’s a good one and a number of promising developments from 2015 come to fruition. Over the last five years, a lot of promises were made, which didn’t come off. Now, the promises are a bit more believable, and seem to come with realistic deadlines.

If there is one week of the year when we can allow ourselves to be hopeful and positive, it is the first week of a fresh year. It is also a week in which it is very unlikely any major setback for the trucking industry will rear its ugly head. This is mainly because all of the politicians and bureaucrats are going to be at the beach until Australia Day.

Last year ended with some genuine positives. The proposed changes to chain of responsibility legislation look like they will benefit trucking. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator seems to be cementing its position as the go-to place for regulation of the industry.

Of course, there were a couple of items to darken this rosy outlook. One was the last minute publication, just before Christmas, of the latest Road Safety Remuneration Order. (Of which there is more here.)

The other is just a small snippet of news, which provides us with a wonderful illustration of just what we are up against. Apparently, a number of rural operators in New South Wales have fallen foul of a tricky interpretation of the ‘90 day rule’ by our old friends the Roads and Maritime Services.

If a trailer is registered outside of NSW, by a NSW operator, it has to spend at least 48 hours outside of the state in any 90 day period. ‘Too easy’, you say, if you run an interstate operation, the trailer is bound to spend those hours outside the state.

‘Not so fast’, says the pernickety RMS officer. They have found trailers which work on shuttle runs, constantly running in and out of NSW. However, because of the nature of the work the trailers were found to not spend a ‘continuous’ period of 48 hours interstate.

So far, it is unclear whether this interpretation of the rules will be followed through, but at the moment the operators are being told they are in breach of the rules. Visions of a trailer park, in Wodonga or Goondiwindi perhaps, given over to giving trailers a two day break every three months to keep the RMS at bay.

This is just a small example, effecting just a few operators, but we could be told a similar tale in just about every industry segment. Unthinking imposition of ridiculous rules seems to be a speciality of those dealing with the trucking industry. However, it’s not just enforcement who are at fault. The big customers, the supermarket chains for example, are also guilty on this count.

The debacle around the relocation of Melbourne Markets, over access and accreditation is another example of the small unthinking rule making we have to deal with day-to-day.

That’s enough negativity, it is a new year after all. Let’s all work to make sure this year, 2016, sees a decrease in the petty issues sent to try the trucking industry, and an increase in rationality and good old fashioned common sense.