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Labor EV policy good for freight: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) believes the Federal Opposition’s commitment to work with industry on the development of cleaner transport modes must include a focus on the clear enthusiasm of many in the freight logistics sector to deliver improved environmental outcomes.
“This industry has been among the most enthusiastic proponents of the potential of electric vehicles (EV) to improve our environment, whilst also providing operational and cost advantages for freight logistics businesses,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“The policy announced by the Federal Opposition contains a number of measures that can help make that potential a reality, provided that governments work closely with industry in helping deliver the right reforms.
“ALC is particularly encouraged by Labor’s plan to boost EV charging capacity in the national road network. Overcoming ‘range anxiety’ is an essential part of delivering swifter EV uptake by freight logistics operators, and the commitment to work with COAG to promote national consistency in charging infrastructure is most welcome.
“We also welcome the aspects of the policy designed to encourage investment in EV technology, especially the commitment to allow businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent off any new EV valued at more than $20,000, and the intention to use the Australian Investment Guarantee to incentivise the upgrade of heavy vehicles to incorporate modern technology that can help reduce emissions.
“The commitment to develop a Low Emission Transport Strategy is a responsible one, and will help ensure that all modes of transport are making a contribution to emissions reduction. Industry must be a key partner in the development of that strategy.
“ALC further notes the Opposition’s commitment to introduce vehicle emissions standards, in line with those that currently operate in the United States. This is a significant proposal – and one that must be worked though carefully with industry if it is to succeed.
“Industry is willing to play its part in delivering better environmental outcomes for the community, and ALC would look to work with any future Labor government to ensure that such standards are introduced in an equitable fashion that does not impose an unsustainable financial burden on freight logistics operators.”

Labor to review ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges

Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has welcomed the State Opposition’s support to stop ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges unfairly imposed on truck operators at Port Botany and its pledge to work with RFNSW in a review of exemptions for the luxury-vehicle tax.
Opposition Leader Michael Daley and Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Jodi McKay said landside prices and charges had ‘escalated rapidly without explanation or justification’ and promised to put an end to ‘unfettered and unfair pricing practices’ at the port, if elected on Saturday.
“On behalf of our members, RFNSW is pleased the Opposition has listened and acted on the concerns of our members. It’s time industry had a fair and robust price monitoring system at the port,” RFNSW’s chief executive Simon O’Hara said.
“For over two years now, RFNSW has been fighting hard to raise awareness of these mounting surcharges imposed by the stevedores and their crippling financial impact on truck operators. It’s out of control.
“We’ve said all along there must be an independent body called in to regulate infrastructure and other landside charges, which is why we welcome the Opposition’s pledge to formalise the involvement of IPART in the setting of port charges.”
Mr O’Hara said RFNSW was pleased that Ms McKay had responded to industry concerns over the luxury vehicle tax, stating that the ALP would maintain ‘all current exemptions and concessions, including those for heavy trailers.’
“Following our ongoing advocacy and dialogue on behalf of our members, Ms McKay has assured us that the Opposition is committed to a review of those exemptions, in order to protect the trucking industry and will work with RFNSW as part of that review,” he added.

Labor policy to restore fuel reserves welcomed

A national fuel reserve should be set up to ensure Australia has enough in case of emergency, Labor leader Bill Shorten has said. The announcement has been welcome by unions and industry alike.
Mr Shorten pledged a Labor government would create an entity to build up national fuel reserves and ensure they don’t fall below the international standard of 90 days’ supply.
He cited the Department of Environment and Energy, which estimates Australia, a net energy importer, has 19 days of automotive gasoline supply, 23 days of jet fuel supply and 22 days of diesel supply. You can read the T&L report on the subject here.
Mr Shorten said Labor planned to start building ‘tank farms’ to store the additional reserves in the next decade and also wanted to research alternative fuels.
Trucking industry welcomes fuel reserve plan
Labor’s commitment to boost Australia’s fuel security would help protect the economy from international risks and uncertainty, the chairman of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said.
The ATA represents the 50,000 businesses and 211,500 people in the Australian trucking industry.
“Fuel security is critical to trucking and keeping the Australian economy moving,” Mr Crouch said.
“Over 75 per cent of non-bulk domestic freight is carried by road, making fuel security vital to local supply chains and the ability of businesses and consumers to buy and sell goods.
“Last year, the International Energy Agency reported that Australia is vulnerable to unexpected changes in regional demand and disruptions in supply.
“The IEA reported that our stocks are at an all-time low, do not meet our international obligations and limit Australia’s options for addressing a disruption in supply.”
Mr Crouch welcomed Labor’s commitment that it would, if elected, commence detailed consultation around the design of a government-owned National Fuel Reserve to boost Australia’s fuel stocks of emergency reserves.
MUA: “an essential step”
The maritime union has welcomed Labor’s commitment to create a government-owned National Fuel Reserve, describing it as an essential step to protect Australia from natural disasters or global crisis that could disrupt oil supplies.
The Maritime Union of Australia said Australia has been in breach of the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel stockholding obligation since March 2012, with figures released last month showed the country had just 22 days of petrol and 17 days of diesel on hand.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the fuel reserve commitment, along with Labor’s previous announcement of a National Strategic Fleet that will include oil tankers and gas carriers, were vital steps required to safeguard the security of an island nation that is reliant on fuel imports.
“For nearly seven years, Australia has been in breach of the IEA rules that are in place to ensure member nations have the capacity to weather unforeseen disruptions to the global supply chain,” Mr Crumlin said.
“Australia is the only developed oil-importing country without government-controlled stocks of crude oil or refined petroleum products, which has become more and more of an issue as the proportion of our fuel that is imported has risen to well over 90 per cent.”
 

Safe Rates on the horizon: TWU welcomes Labor commitment

The Transport Workers’ Union has welcomed the Labor Party commitment to establishing a system to tackle what it calls the downward spiral in the road transport industry.
The Labor Party National Conference heard that since the Coalition Government abolished a road safety watchdog in 2016, 469 people have been killed in truck crashes. In August a Monash University study confirmed again that trucking is Australia’s deadliest job, with drivers 13 times more likely to die at work than any other profession.
The commitment to improving road safety will see the party engage with the TWU and key industry players in developing a system of safe standards that will apply to all parties in the transport supply chain and raise standards across the industry.
“This is an important day for our industry because we can be assured that under a Labor government, there will be a priority to make transport safer and fairer. The industry is on its knees because of the way wealthy companies at the top demand that their goods be delivered for the bare minimum. In trucking this means constant financial pressure on transport operators and drivers. This sees drivers pushed to work long hours, speed and skip rest breaks and it means vital maintenance on trucking fleets is delayed. This is why transport is Australia’s deadliest industry and why there are such high numbers of deaths and injuries in truck crashes. Today the transport industry has a brighter future, with a plan for sustainable businesses, quality jobs and safer roads,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
Truck driver John Waltis told the Industrial Deaths Inquiry earlier this year that he’s attended more than 50 funerals for truck driver colleagues.
“I’ve seen the consequences of fatigue, the pressures to meet deadlines, and crashes due to mechanical faults. The devastating effects of these pressures goes beyond the 51 funerals I’ve attended. I’ve consoled far too many wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. It’s time for change,” Mr Waltis said.
When it comes to insolvencies, transport also faces difficulties. Data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows that 469 companies entered into external administration in the transport, postal and warehousing industries between July 2016 and June 2017. The main reason for the insolvencies was inadequate cash flow.
Labor will also tackle the exploitation of transport workers in the on-demand economy.
“For on-demand workers the plan for Safe Rates means an end to exploitation and eighteenth century working conditions via an app. These workers, regardless of their label, will be able to seek rights and collectively agitate for conditions that will bring fairness, safety and stability to the industry,” Mr Kaine added.
A survey of riders has shown three out of every four riders are paid below minimum rates. Almost 50% of riders had either been injured on the job or knew someone who had. A Melbourne delivery rider recently won a landmark unfair dismissal case against Foodora.
References:

  1. Truck crash deaths statistics

Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics fatal truck crash statistics.
Safe Work workplace fatality statistics.

  1. Safe Rates

In April 2016 the Federal Government abolished a system backing safe rates that was holding wealthy clients such as retailers, banks, oil companies and ports to account for low cost contracts, which do not allow their goods to be delivered safely. This was despite the Government’s own reports showing a link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28% [PricewaterhouseCoopers “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System Final Report January 2016” (PWC Review 2016 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)].

  1. Evidence of pressure

A Macquarie University study in February criticised a ‘critical gap” since the Government abolished the regulation that the independent tribunal represented, “that can eliminate existing incentives for overly tight scheduling, unpaid work, and rates that effectively are below cost recovery”.
The study also showed that:

  • One in 10 truck drivers work over 80 hours per week.
  • One in six owner drivers say drivers can’t refuse an unsafe load
  • 42% of owner drivers said the reason drivers do not report safety breaches was because of a fear of losing their jobs

A Safe Work Australia report in July 2015 showed:

  • 31% of transport employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done
  • 20% of transport employers accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries.
  • 20% of transport industry employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.
  1. Senate report on road safety

In October the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee approved a report recommending industry-led talks to set up an independent body on “supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry”.

  1. Transport company insolvencies: the full ASIC report.

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