Australia’s national truck laws must be substantially redrafted, the Australian Trucking Association said in response to the first issues paper of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review.

NTC review: truck law to go back to basics

The National Transport Commission (NTC) expects to draft a whole new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) after it completes its review of the existing law.
NTC chief executive Paul Retter said the review of the HVNL will be a back-to-basics review that is expected to result in an entirely new, fit-for-purpose performance-based law.
“Since May 2018, we have heard a lot from industry about the government not being prepared to make wholesale change to the law. Based on our discussions with governments, I am firmly of the view that this is not correct,” Mr Retter said.
“The HVNL, in its current form, does not reflect best practice. We understand that it is onerous for industry and the regulator, falls short of being truly national and is overly prescriptive and complicated,” he said.
The 2012 HVNL consolidated 13 model laws and brought six of the eight state and territory laws into a single national law.
“However, it is fair to say that while the HVNL was better than what preceded it, it was subject to a fair amount of compromise.”
Mr Retter said the NTC was best placed to undertake the review as it was not beholden to any particular jurisdiction. NTC will work with all governments and a large number of industry stakeholders and other experts across Australia during the review.
“The NTC was established by Australian governments to undertake exactly this type of national transport reform. We understand the law, its limitations and frustrations.”
He said the NTC had already been consulting widely with industry, road organisations, jurisdictions, fatigue and technology experts, and key legislative professionals. Detailed discussions have occurred between the NTC, the ATA, NatRoad, ALRTA, road transport organisations in each state and territory, safety bodies, and governments.
“We will establish an expert review panel to help develop new policy settings and legislation that reflects best practice.”
Mr Retter said the NTC was also setting up working groups for the key priority areas of safe and efficient access, enhanced fatigue management, accreditation for safer operations, and telematics, technology and data.
Consultation with industry will happen in rural and regional centres as well as urban areas to ensure the views of heavy vehicle operators across the country are taken into account when drafting replacement legislation.
“The 2018 review and subsequent proposed legislation will acknowledge that one size doesn’t fit all across this vast country. Taking a performance-based approach to the HVNL, rather than a prescriptive approach, will deliver streamlined legislation without compromising on safety.”
The NTC will finalise the terms of reference for the review in the next few months for approval by the Transport Infrastructure Council.

Are trucks paying the toll road charge twice?

Linfox has launched a test case to clarify the term ‘public road’ in the Fuel Tax Act 2006 to ensure that heavy vehicles are claiming the correct number of fuel tax credits on fuel used for business activity.
The test case is limited to a challenge on a very narrow area of the legislation, section 43-10(3) of the Fuel Tax Act 2006, which states:
“To the extent you acquire… fuel to use, in a vehicle, for travelling on a public road, the amount of your fuel tax credit is reduced by the amount of the road user charge for the fuel.”
The term ‘public road’ is not defined in The Act and is critical to the application of the road user charge that is used to fund government repairs to public highways.
Currently, a truck travelling on a toll road pays the road user charge for this journey, even though toll road repairs are not funded by the government. The Commissioner of Taxation takes the view that a toll road is a public road for the purposes of applying the road user charge. Linfox estimates that 10% of its journeys use a toll road.
Consulting with the Commissioner of Taxation on this issue, the parties agreed that a court judgement would be the best way to clarify this issue.
To illustrate its case, Linfox is contending that the M2 toll road in New South Wales does not meet the description ‘public road’ and therefore the company has been incorrectly reducing the amount of fuel tax credits it has been entitled to through applying the road user charge.
If successful, Linfox will be entitled to seek a refund of any fuel tax credits that have been under-claimed. The decision would also mean that any other taxpayers using fuel on any roads that do not meet the term ‘public road’ would also be eligible for refunds.
This is a case no doubt all truck operators will be watching closely.

Personal use fatigue exemption mooted

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has started consultation on a user-friendly exemption for managing fatigue and driving a fatigue-related heavy vehicle for personal use.
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the Personal Use Exemption would allow operators some personal use of a heavy vehicle outside their regulated driving hours.
“Under the proposal, operators would be able to use a heavy vehicle for personal use for up to one hour at the end of the day or on a day off,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“Currently a personal use exemption of up to one hour during a driver’s day off exists in NSW.
“We continue to work closely with the heavy vehicle industry to provide flexibility around fatigue while still maintaining the highest safety standards.”
The exemption is expected to be used for personal or non-revenue activities, such as reaching suitable sleeping accommodation and restocking supplies for a trip.
All operators should note that current fatigue laws apply during the consultation process.
The beginning of the one-month consultation period for the Personal Use Exemption is part of the NHVR’s Focus on Fatigue over the coming month.
“The correct management of work and rest times through a Work Diary is the best way to predict and assess a driver’s potential level of fatigue impairment,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“There will also be a number of coordinated compliance operations taking place across the country in the coming weeks with a specific target on driver fatigue and work and rest hour compliance.”
Industry welcomes the consultation
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) has welcomed the formal consultation on the proposed national work and rest exemption.
ALRTA national president Kevin Keenan said a national exemption would harmonise state laws and result in better quality rest for drivers.
“Short-distance drivers can usually make it home to access sleeping quarters, meals or washing facilities, as well as their own private vehicle for personal use. In contrast, long-distance drivers are often forced to rest at inhospitable locations with no amenities whatsoever,” said President Keenan.
“Uninterrupted sleep, eating well and keeping clean are fundamental to maintaining alertness and vehicle control. It is also important to relieve boredom during longer breaks in isolated locations.
“In NSW, drivers are allowed up to one hour personal use of a heavy vehicle during a 24hr break to undertake tasks such as cleaning, refuelling or driving for non-work related purposes.
“While the ALRTA strongly supports the principle underpinning this limited exemption, it is just as important to promote better rest quality during the working week, and of course NSW is not the only location where such flexibility would be beneficial.
“A national work and rest exemption would ensure a consistent approach across all Heavy Vehicle National Law jurisdictions and promote better quality rest for long-distance drivers,” he said.

Logistics Industry Proposes Roundtable to Progress Heavy Vehicle Road Reform

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has thrown its weight behind a proposal to establish a roundtable involving industry and government to progress the issue of heavy vehicle road reform. 

In a letter to Paul Fletcher, Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, ALC has welcomed a wide ranging public debate to ensure road funding reform proposals improve supply chain efficiency against the backdrop of an increasing freight task.

According to ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff, "ALC supports the need for reform in this area to improve supply chain efficiency and we welcome the Government's commitment to progress this important reform."

"ALC also welcomes Paul Fletcher highlighting this issue in a recent Ministerial Statement on road pricing where he reaffirmed the Government's commitment to accelerate work with states and territories on heavy vehicle road reform."

"Minister Fletcher correctly argued that our current system for funding roads is under growing pressure and that a new approach is required."

"ALC has also developed a set of principles to progress the debate [attached to the letter] which could be used as a basis for further discussions within the proposed roundtable."

In the letter, ALC reiterates its call for the inclusion of senior Treasury officials in the reform process and has encouraged the Government to include Treasury representatives in the roundtable.

"ALC would also like the roundtable to address the issue of mandatory telematics in heavy vehicles, as this technology will need to play an integral role in any road funding reform.

"As part of this campaign, earlier this month I wrote to all federal, state and territory transport ministers to encourage them to put in place the regulatory and administrative steps needed to advance the mandatory use of telematics in heavy vehicles to improve safety and compliance outcomes." 

WABCO enters into agreement with Daimler Trucks North America

WABCO Holdings has entered into a long term supply agreement with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) to supply its MAXXUS air disc brake technology for series production on DTNA's trucks, starting in July 2012.

WABCO states that its MAXXUS technology represents the lightest and highest performing single piston air disc brake for North America's commercial vehicle industry. The company further states that MAXXUS disc brakes reduce the overall weight of a vehicle, which boosts fuel efficiency and enables increased transport payload.

WABCO President, Americas, Nikhil Varty said that the company is "proud to supply Daimler Trucks North America with WABCO’s MAXXUS air disc brakes, a new game-changing generation of high performance, low weight braking technology that increases vehicle safety and efficiency."

Origin takes lead on Queensland road safety in anticipation of CSG to LNG heavy vehicle traffic

Origin, on behalf of the Australian Pacific LNG Project has become the first to be licensed under a new CSG Logistics Safety Code of Practice, launched in readiness for the expected increased heavy vehicle traffic as four major CSG to LNG projects come online.

Origin took the lead in formulating the new industry code, which was developed in line with the National Logistics Safety Code.

Among the areas covered in the code are fatigue management, safe loading practices, speed management, vehicle compliance and safety, and contractor safety including subcontractor management.

The Australian Logistics Council issued a licence to Origin under the new code, and Managing Director Michael Kilgariff congratulated Origin for taking such a proactive approach to how they handle safety on the state's roads.

"In becoming the first signatory to the CSG Code, Origin is ensuring that all company employees operating heavy vehicles, contractors and subcontractors will comply with the 45 legal elements laid out in the Code," he said.

The ALC further notes that heavy vehicles have been over-represented in recent Queensland road fatality statistics. In 2010 they were involved in accidents that resulted in 47 deaths, almost 20% of the state's road toll that year.

The CSG Logistics Safety Code of Practice comes into effect ahead of the introduction of the National Heavy Vehicle Law on January 1, 2013.

Australian Trucking Association advises trucking businesses to prepare for carbon tax

The Chief Executive of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Stuart St Clair, has advised trucking businesses to review their costs and freight rates ahead of the introduction of the carbon tax, and the 2.4 cents per litre increase in their fuel tax on 1st July 2012.

Trucking businesses will not pay carbon tax on the fuel they use on public roads until 1st July 2014, but the ATA warns that they will still face increased costs from 1st July 2012 as their suppliers increase their prices.

"The tax is likely to have a particularly large impact on trucking businesses that operate cold stores, because electricity typically accounts for about 30 per cent of their costs," Mr St Clair said.

He noted that in New South Wales, electricity prices are set to rise an average of 16 per cent, with nine percentage points of the increase coming from the carbon tax. Businesses will need to take this cost increase into account, Mr St Clair advised.

"Trucking businesses offering intermodal services will also face cost rises, with Pacific National imposing a 1.34 per cent carbon cost surcharge and the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service imposing a 2.04 per cent surcharge," he added.

Mr St Clair said trucking businesses would also face a 2.4 cents per litre increase in their effective fuel tax from 1 July 2012. Many registration charges will also increase.

"The fuel tax and registration charge increases will cost a typical owner-driver about $2,800 per year. For a trucking business with ten prime movers and semitrailers, the cost increase is likely to be about $41,800 per year," he explained.

Mr St Clair further suggested that trucking businesses need to talk to customers about increasing freight rates or adjusting their fuel surcharges, stating that "the industry's customers need to understand that our costs are going up and we cannot absorb them."

WABCO enters into long term agreement to supply anti-lock brakes in South America

WABCO Holdings Inc. has announced that it has entered into a long term agreement with commercial vehicle manufacturer IVECO to supply anti-lock braking technology for IVECO's platforms of light and medium duty trucks produced in Brazil from 2013 onward.

This new agreement is in line with the Brazilian Federal Government's mandate that new trucks, buses and trailers are fitted with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to further increase vehicle and road safety.

The Brazilian legislation requires that 40 percent of total commercial vehicles produced in Brazil in 2013 must be equipped with ABS, with the number increasing to 100 percent in 2014.

Anti-lock braking systems prevent the wheels of a vehicle from locking when road friction is not sufficient to transmit braking forces. WABCO pioneered ABS technology for commercial vehicles in 1981.

Kenworth trucks recalled, non-compliant to emission control rules

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a product safety recall for Kenworth truck models T359 and T403 citing possible non-compliance with Australian emission control rules for heavy vehicles.

Sold nationally through suppliers, Paccar Australia, the ACCC stated that the affected trucks’ Cummins ISMe5 engine software can allow the engine to operate without the use of diesel exhaust fluid. This gives way to the possibility that the truck’s exhaust emissions may not comply with the Australian Design Rule 80/3—Emission Control for Heavy Vehicles.

The affected models are Kenworth T359 and T403, 2011 and 2012 model vehicles.

Identifying features include:

  • Campaign number: 12-01
  • Target number: 54
  • Model range: T359 & T403
  • Vin range: 6F5000000BA444086—6F5000000CA446766

PACCAR Australia will be notifying customers via registered mail about the recall.

Image: Kenworth T403 with Cummins ISMe5

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