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. Read more
Australia Post has announced a four-year partnership with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) with a focus on truck safety on the roads. Read more
Michael Byrne, Managing Director of Australian transport and logistics company Toll Group, has submitted a six-point national truck safety plan to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and all road and road safety ministers across Australia.
“Australia has a dire road safety problem,” Byrne wrote in a letter to Turnbull. “Our approach to heavy vehicles in this country is core to tackling this issue. It’s time for a genuinely national approach to heavy vehicle regulation.”
He noted that, having heard from government and academic experts on improving safety, he wanted to give his own suggestions, as “the leader of Australia’s largest transport and logistics company,” former leader of “the second largest transport company,” Linfox, and a second-generation industry veteran who has worked in the industry since he was 13 years old.
In his letter, Byrne called for Turnbull to address six critical areas.
First, he requested a national rule book, which would provide a common definition for ‘heavy vehicle’, and consistent approaches across states for driver fatigue, speed limits, heavy-vehicle regulation and licensing.
“The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator was supposed to deliver one rule book,” he said. “It hasn’t. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have refused to sign up to the national law. And so today, Australian road freight operators are subject to multiple and overlapping rules at the local council, state and national level.”
Second, Bryne stated the need for the introduction of an operator licensing system to ensure safety and competence, to bring the industry in line with others such as maritime, rail and aviation. “In road transport, virtually anyone with a truck, a driver and an ABN (Australian Business Number) can be a road freight operator,” he said. “Most comparable countries have an operator licensing system for road transport.”
Third, he wrote, road safety won’t be achieved by industry alone, the community, government, enforcement and road safety bodies must also do their parts. “We know that in 93 per cent of fatalities involving a truck, the other party was at fault,” he said. “Yet national and safe road safety strategies are silent on how light vehicle drivers can ‘share the road’ safely with trucks.”
Fourth, he called for government incentive to encourage safe behaviour. “Governments can incentivise and reward safe behaviours from heavy-vehicle operators,” he wrote. “Discounted registration and stamp duty fees could be offered to operators with sound safety records.”
Fifth, Byrne advised the Government to mandate telematics for all new heavy vehicles. “Mandatory telematics on every vehicle will identify operators that systematically and deliberately speed, overload vehicles and push fatigue limits,” he said.
Bryne’s sixth proposal was for the Government to ensure operators such Toll Group are actively engaged in debate and policy development regarding road safety. “Any discussion on heavy-vehicle regulation must draw on private sector expertise to truly understand how we can overcome the obstacles that are holding us back from creating safer roads for our community,” he wrote.
A spokesperson for Barnaby Joyce, the recently appointed Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, told the Sydney Morning Herald that several of Byrne’s points had merit and would be considered.
“Even though there is no general consensus in the industry on some of the proposed initiatives, we will continue to work with industry and stakeholders to improve heavy-vehicle safety,” the spokesperson said.
Toll Group’s call for a national approach to road safety follows the Australian Truck Association’s (ATA) announcement on 12 January of its partnership with the National Road Safety Partnership Program, which aims to spread knowledge and information across all industries about managing risk and reducing the road toll.
The ATA also called for the Federal Government to allocate $12 million in funding to road safety, establish a National Road Safety Commission, and give responsibility for investigating truck accidents to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
In late 2017, Toll Group announced its own plans to position safety culture at the centre of its operations, with Byrne saying at the time that safety “is common to all of us and a non-negotiable.”
Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) will become an independent organisation from 1 January 2018 “to better serve its New South Wales membership base.”
The organisation began as ATA NSW in 2007 and changed its name to Road Freight NSW in 2015.
It is currently a subsidiary of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), and from January will continue to be a member of the organisation.
RFNSW will now work independently to campaign on policies affecting the New South Wales transport sector, primarily heavy-vehicle safety, the regulatory regimes stifling business growth and the unwarranted surcharges, like stevedores’ port taxes, being imposed on carriers.
Road Freight NSW Chairman Jon Luff said that while the organisation is committed to policy development nationally, there is a need for an independent body in New South Wales to allow strong advocacy at a state level.
“We will be the local voice for local truck carriers, providing support and advocacy on behalf of our members, who now include some of the country’s largest transport companies,” he said.
“We have enjoyed our collaboration with the ATA and its board, directors and General Council. It’s an exciting time for Road Freight NSW and our membership. It will prove to be a game changer for the sector.”
ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said the name Road Freight NSW reflects the organisation’s independent and authoritative viewpoint.
“The move underscores the strength of Road Freight NSW and the vital advocacy role it plays across the state,” he said. “It will enable the ATA to better support member-based organisations throughout Australia, and to represent members across all tiers of government.
“We operate in a complex regulatory environment and the issues vary across states. Having a member-owned and -operated organisation to represent local members is a big achievement, and critical so all voices can be heard.
“Strong advocacy is critical to our members, right across Australia.”
The first step in the government’s road funding reforms must be to fix the overcharging of truck and bus operators, chairman of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Geoff Crouch said.
According to the ATA, truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $343 million in 2017-18. As a result, truck fuel and registration charges are too high.
Mr Crouch said the government must make a down payment on its road productivity plan by insisting that transport ministers continue to freeze revenue level from the fuel and registration charges paid by truck and bus operators.
This would mean that fuel and registration charges would decrease in 2018-19 and 2019-20 – a great win for trucking businesses, large and small.
“Trucking operators pay for our use of the road system through a fuel based road user charge, administered as a reduction in our fuel tax credits, and very high registration charges. These charges seek to recover the cost of the road expenditure that is due to trucks and buses,” Mr Crouch said.
“Authoritative new figures from the National Transport Commission – an independent government body – show that truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $343 million in 2017-18.
“The overcharging goes back years, and started because the charging model underestimated the number of trucks and buses on the road.
“In 2015, governments agreed to freeze revenue from truck and bus charges for two years because of the overcharging. In November, transport ministers will consider whether to extend the freeze for another two years.
“The only approach consistent with the Government’s overall productivity reform agenda is to continue the revenue freeze. Continuing the revenue freeze would reduce the overcharging to $148.8 million in 2018-19. It would reduce fuel and registration charges, which would give the hard working businesses in our industry more scope to invest and increase their productivity.
“It is also the only approach that supports the Government’s broader road reform aims. Governments can’t expect to put in place road reforms unless they can fix the agreed problems with the existing charging system first.”
Mr Crouch was responding to the Commonwealth Treasurer’s CEDA speech in Canberra, which marked the release of the Productivity Commission’s five-year productivity review.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has commissioned an independent review into heavy vehicle accreditation schemes.
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the independent review would inform future structural and operational improvements in the schemes.
“Heavy vehicle accreditation schemes have proven benefits for road safety across a number of heavy vehicle sectors, including trucks, cranes and buses,” Mr Petroccitto said.
“The national roadworthiness survey released earlier this year showed major non-conformities for vehicles in accreditation schemes dropped from 13 per cent to nine per cent.
“That said, I believe it is time to independently review the systems and processes to ensure they deliver the future safety outcomes our growing industry requires.
“The review will look at a range of factors, including governance and oversight, rules and standards, as well as examining associated assurance activities.
“I’ve also asked for feedback on the safety merits of requiring operators that sub-contract on government infrastructure projects to be accredited.”
The review will kick off with a marketplace scan to identify the best practice approach for accreditation schemes, and identify inconsistencies that exist between schemes.
The independent review will examine schemes such as Western Australian Heavy Vehicle Accreditation and the NHVR’s National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme, as well as industry schemes such as TruckSafe. The review will also take into account relevant experience from overseas.
The independent review will be conducted by transport expert Peter Medlock and is expected to take up to eight weeks to complete.
Mr Petroccitto welcomed the support of Transport and Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester who recently outlined several key investments to improve heavy vehicle safety.
ATA on board
“Thank you to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, for listening to our calls to review truck safety accreditation programs,” chairman of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said.
“Operators, industry, government and regulators need to work together on truck safety.
“Recognising safe practices should not be an unbalanced competition between government and industry like the ATA’s TruckSafe program.
“By working together we give the public and industry customers the confidence that heavy vehicle operators are meeting strict standards.
“It does not help road safety when the government accreditation program, the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS), is not as comprehensive as the industry’s own program in TruckSafe.
More than 800 operators have invested to meet rigorous standards over the years, yet participants do not receive the same regulatory benefits as NHVAS operators, Mr Crouch said.
“This independent review will give TruckSafe a chance to demonstrate its value to road safety and the trucking industry.
“We will be making the case for credible accreditation programs like TruckSafe to be recognised by governments as being effective and rigorous on safety.
“TruckSafe is everything governments should want to see; an industry led solution, adapted over 20 years, independently audited and giving operators a competitive choice.
“Operators should have choice, clarity and confidence when choosing a program to recognise their safety practices,” Mr Crouch said.
NSW minister for roads, maritime and freight Melinda Pavey has thrown her support behind proposed interstate changes to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Chain of Responsibility (CoR).
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) have submitted joint notices of intention to the regulator to develop an industry-wide ‘Master Code’ that is hoped to enhance heavy-vehicle safety.
Introduced at the 2017 ALC Compliance Summit in Sydney, the new code of conduct is hoped to extend the legal obligations for safe road transit of executive officers and company directors right across the supply chain.
Speaking at the summit on Tuesday, Pavey described the number of deaths on state roads annually as “unacceptable,” insisting that zero should be the only acceptable target.
“I strongly support the introduction of a fair regime for the Chain of Responsibility as I believe it delivers on road safety,” Pavey said. “We have advocated a common start date of 1 July 2018 for various Chain of Responsibility reforms for various industry and regulator education.
“We know there is a lot to do and one of the things is the issue of improving and enhancing the quality of heavy vehicles, encouraging that investment.
“One of the ways that we need to do that is to have good conversations with local councils around Sydney and explain to them that a higher-capacity heavy vehicle can also be a safer heavy vehicle.”
Freight is a $60 billion industry in Australia and employs close to 500,000 people, directly or indirectly.
Industry forecasts anticipate freight volumes will almost double to 794 million tonnes by 2031 and is said to be one of the major factors when considering safety.
A Master Code will effectively hold all parties of the supply chain accountable for breaches of road transport, mass dimension loading, speed compliance and work-hour laws.
“Freight is important to the state and I am constantly reminding people that I am not only the roads minister but also minister for roads, maritime and freight, and they are all of equal importance,” Pavey continued.
“I am honoured to be minister at a time when our government in New South Wales is investing in historic levels of freight infrastructure to ensure the transit and transfer of goods on our network is smooth and, above all, safe.
“And that is not without its challenges, at this time. We have seen an increase in heavy-vehicle incidents and fatalities over recent months and it is important that we look at those statistics.”
The minister said that road users are five times more likely to die in a crash in regional New South Wales than in metropolitan areas, with 10 fatalities for every 100,000 people.
In the city, an average of two people for every 100,000 people die on the roads. The divide, Pavey says, is similar to statistics recorded in the US.
“I am often told that this is not an achievable task and will never happen but we must work towards zero,” the minister said. “The New South Wales road toll isn’t only a number – it is people and is closer to home than you may think.
“It is a number that is unacceptable however small it is until that number gets to zero. How many fatalities would you, as operators, be willing to accept in your company each year?
“Under the Chain of Responsibility, complying with transport law is a shared responsibility where all parties in the road transport supply chain are responsible for preventing breaches.
“We should be working together to push the number of deaths on New South Wales roads towards zero and I will, however, recognise the work of industry to achieve this.”
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) identified a number of priority areas at the its Supply Chain Safety & Compliance Summit that will form the basis of its efforts to improve supply chain safety over the year ahead.
The event was held in Sydney this week, and featured an address by the Hon. Melinda Pavey MP, NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, as well as a keynote presentation by Sarah Bell, UK Traffic Commissioner for London and the South East of England, focusing on the central role of UK Traffic Commissioners in managing risks to road safety.
“The Summit, which was attended by more than 280 people from across the supply chain, reinforced ALC’s position as Australia’s leading industry advocate for supply chain safety and compliance,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC.
“As the Summit’s opening video noted, Chain of Responsibility (CoR) is all about safety. These two days were an invaluable opportunity for industry representatives to recommit to continuous improvement, learn more about effective safety practices, and consider how to apply these techniques in their own day-to-day operations.”
A core focus of the Summit was the upcoming changes to Chain of Responsibility obligations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), and the development of a Registered Industry Code of Practice (Master Code) to assist CoR compliance.
“Through a series of consultative workshops, attendees also had the opportunity to directly shape the content of the Master Code for heavy-vehicle safety, currently being developed by ALC in partnership with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA),” added Kilgariff.
As a result of the discussions that occurred at the Summit, the ALC has identified a number of key themes, and the actions flowing from these will form the basis of ALC’s safety-related work program over the coming year. These are:
1. The Master Code is a significant step – but it can’t solve all the problems.
The ALC will work to ensure it is comprehensive resource for industry – but organisations will still need to consider their own operational circumstances when thinking about CoR compliance.
2. Continuous improvement in safety is a core aspect of freight’s social licence.
The ALC will work with industry and governments to highlight the improved technology and safety features of modern heavy vehicles to contribute to improved safety for all road users, including passenger vehicles.
3. Safety is a shared responsibility.
The ALC will continue working to highlight this within the industry and in other sectors, especially given the increased CoR obligations of directors/executive officers from mid-2018. Driving continuous improvement in compliance is both good community practice and good business practice.
4. There is scope to make greater use of telematics and technology in safety.
The ALC will continue to advocate for the compulsory use of telematics to improve safety, as well as the removal of legislative and regulatory barriers that prevent the uptake of technology that improves safety and productivity.
5. CoR compliance will increasingly factor into procurement and contract arrangements.
Both governments and listed companies are writing CoR compliance requirements into contractual arrangements, and won’t deal with businesses that can’t demonstrate compliance. Through the delivery of the Master Code, ALC will assist businesses to develop procedures they need to not only ensure compliance, but also demonstrate it.
6. Training is vital.
Businesses need to make certain their employees (and subcontractors) understand their CoR obligations. The ALC will emphasise the importance of building CoR compliance components into training employee training modules – for both new and existing employees.
7. Relatively low cost of entry to industry poses safety risks.
Often new entrants to the sector are failing to invest adequately in vehicle safety and CoR compliance. The ALC will continue our advocacy on operator licensing/compliance and work with regulators to encourage a particular focus on compliance in this area of the market, especially given anticipated growth in e-commerce and peer-to-peer freight delivery models.
8. Executives need to understand CoR compliance and effectiveness of their organisation’s systems.
Board reporting on CoR is not just a good way of ensuring obligations are being complied with – but is also a good way of keeping safety issues a priority for businesses. The ALC will continue to work with industry to develop metrics for CoR board reporting that makes the information provided to executives meaningful, and capable of driving safety and business improvement.
9. Heavy vehicles are still overrepresented in accident and fatality statistics – even though heavy vehicle drivers are not always the party at fault.
Trend lines have started to run the wrong way – and this is not a time for complacency. The ALC will engage with law-enforcement and regulatory agencies to help determine what factors are driving this (including illicit drug use), and assist with the development and delivery of strategies to combat them.
10. Messages about load restraint/overloading are still not penetrating the whole of the industry.
The ALC will continue to support regulators’ efforts to promote this critical safety issue, particularly among smaller and independent operators.
Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), should take over regulating toll road and landside port charges, Ben Maguire CEO of the Australian Truck Association said on 28 July.
The Australian Government is considering setting up an independent regulator to control truck and bus registration charges and road user charges that truck and bus operators pay on fuel.
Maguire commented that the independent regulator – ultimately the ACCC – should be responsible for toll road and landside port charges as well.
“Toll road charges for trucks are growing rapidly,” he added. “Small trucking businesses simply cannot afford them. Although these charges are set by state governments, the arrangements for setting them are not transparent and do not take into account costs across the supply chain.
“The ATA and its members have similar concerns about landside port charges.
“Earlier in 2017, DP World unilaterally increased the infrastructure surcharge at its Melbourne terminal and imposed a new surcharge of $21.16 per container at its Port Botany terminal. ATA member association Road Freight NSW pointed out that the Port Botany surcharge could cost carriers up to $150,000 per year.
“Separately, Patrick increased its existing surcharges this month, and introduced a $4.76 surcharge per container at its Fremantle terminal and a $25.45 surcharge per container at its Port Botany terminal.
“These charge increases cannot be avoided by trucking operators – they have not been subject to detailed regulatory scrutiny, they simply build additional costs into Australia’s supply chains.
“To fix these problems, heavy-vehicle tolls and landside port charges should be set by the road-price regulator, which should ultimately be the ACCC or a dedicated body established under its Act.”
Maguire said governments must start the reform process by fixing the overcharging of truck and bus operators.
“Truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $264.8 million in 2017–18. The meter is ticking up by more than $725,000 per day,” he noted.
“It’s time for governments to take action and stop overcharging the hard-working small businesses that make up the vast majority of operators in our industry.”
The government’s decision to move to a floating carbon price has been welcomed by the trucking industry who said doing business in the sector would become more ‘bearable’ under the plan.
Chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, David Simon, said under the plan trucking operators would pay an extra 1.6 cents per litre as opposed to 6.858 cents a litre, based on a floating carbon price of $6/tonne.
“The Government’s original plan would have had a devastating effect on many trucking businesses. Its decision to move to a floating carbon price twelve months early would still see an increase in the fuel tax paid by trucking operators, but it would be much more bearable,” Simon said.
Simon repeated the ATA’s call for the Government to exempt the fuel used in trucks and trains from the carbon tax permanently.
“As far as transport is concerned, the scheme still targets fuel use in sectors – road and rail freight – where tax increases won’t change behaviour,” he said.
“For example, the Government expects trucking businesses to respond to the tax by switching to alternative fuels like biodiesel. The industry cannot make this switch, because many truck engine manufacturers recommend against using fuel with more than five per cent biodiesel in their engines.”
Simon also called on the government to focus on policy reforms that would increase productivity in the sector.
“As a first step, the Government needs to work harder with the states to enable the industry to use high productivity vehicles like B-triples and super B-doubles,” he said.
“A B-triple is a prime mover with three trailers linked by turntables. A trucking business that switched from using semitrailers to B-triples could reduce its fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 31 per cent.”