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ALRTA Weekly News - 29 August 2014
Representing hard-working, rural based road transport companies from all around Australia.

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ALRTA Weekly News is prepared by Mathew Munro, Executive Director

 

PRESSING OUR ISSUES IN CANBERRA

ALRTA delegation at the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. 

The ALRTA is always keen to speak with stakeholders and decision makers about how we can improve rural transport.  This week we met with industry and government in Canberra to talk about loading ramps, effluent and the review of the Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS).
 
As a grass roots association we aim to involve operators when advocating our issues.  This time around I was accompanied by:
  • John Beer – LRTAV President / ALRTA Secretary;
  • Shane Knight – LRTAV delegate to ALRTA Council; and
  • Linley Miners – LBCA Delegate to ALRTA Council. 

FARMING ASSOCIATIONS
 
Loading Ramps
We met with National Farmers Federation (NFF) President Brent Finlay and CEO Tony Mahar and separately with the Cattle Council of Australia’s (CCA) Animal Health, Welfare and Biosecurity Sub-Committee to discuss loading ramps and effluent. 
 
As regular readers would know, the ALRTA is aiming to produce national guidelines on ramp and forcing yard construction by the end of 2014. After our successful workshop in Canberra earlier in the year (which attracted over 40 participants from across the livestock supply chain and government) we have established a working party to continue progression of the initiative. 
 
Some stakeholders in the farming sector are concerned that ALRTA is attempting to force a new and costly mandatory standard upon all ramp owners.  This is not the case and we have assured the NFF and CCA that we are seeking a cooperative approach to developing voluntary guidelines that can be referenced by those seeking to create safer workplaces in line with existing obligations under work health and safety legislation. 
 
After explaining the aim of the initiative and showing the CCA sub-committee several videos demonstrating practical low-cost changes that can be made to dramatically improve safety and animal welfare, the CCA has made a commitment to be part of our process.  We will formally write to NFF seeking the participation of other important commodity sectors.
 
Effluent
While speaking with NFF and CCA it was opportune to discuss the effluent enforcement blitz currently underway in NSW.  LBCA has been collecting breach notices and it is clear that both professional drivers and primary producers have been subject to enforcement action. 
 
Effluent containment is a shared responsibility.  While operators can take steps such as washing out between loads and fitting effluent tanks, correct preparation of livestock prior to travel is by far the best approach to reducing effluent occurrence.   We need a cooperative approach to solving this problem.
 
Enforcement officers have been using the load restraint provisions of the Heavy Vehicle National Law as the basis for issuing breach notices and it is important for primary producers to be aware that these laws also provide for liability to be extended to loaders and consignors.  The ‘Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock’ clearly identifies consignors as being responsible for livestock preparation and there are several guides available on how to do this correctly.
 
All of this means that enforcement officers would be quite within their rights to issue a breach notice to the primary producer when there is an effluent spill in transit.  If a producer decided to fight such a charge in court, they would need to demonstrate that reasonable steps were taken to prevent the breach from occurring which is likely to involve the production of records showing that curfews had been applied in accordance with available guidance material.
 
The legal tools are in place to enforce this as a chain of responsibility issue.  However, enforcement officers are not using the extended liability provisions and farming representatives have confirmed that there are strong incentives for producers to send animals to market straight from the paddock without undergoing proper curfew - sellers want animals to look fresh at saleyards and buyers calculate the price on the basis of ‘weight minus 5%’. 
 
As pointed out by our delegation, we cannot manage the problem alone.  Effluent tanks simply do not have the capacity to capture 5% of the load weight expected to be lost and there is no network of disposal sites to dump captured material in any case.
 
Agreement was reached that this issue needs to be tackled cooperatively but there is no simple solution.  We will continue to work with farming representatives to educate producers about current legal requirements but ultimately we need to reduce market incentives and push for the chain of responsibility to be enforced as intended. 
 
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
 
Our meeting with the Federal Department of Agriculture was to follow up our recent submission on the review of ESCAS.  In our submission we made two recommendations:
  1. Registered premises should remain open for at least 18 hours on all receival days, including until midnight.
  2. The ESCAS certification and clearance processes need to be reviewed to improve certainty and communication to parties in the supply chain.
The department sympathised with our position on these matters but advised that these will be best addressed as part of the next phase of the multi-stage review which must be completed by 30 June 2015.  Interestingly, officials involved in the drafting and review of the associated Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock 2011 (ASEL) agree with our view that the intention of the current provisions was that registered premises would unload stock after hours on receival days. 
 
While the current Federal Government is unlikely to agree to a new provision stipulating specific opening hours (due to their general stance on reducing red-tape and regulation), the ALRTA considers that the original intent of the ASEL provisions could be achieved by simply requiring registered premises to have regard for the distances that stock must travel to the facility and the desirability of avoiding travel during periods of high fatigue risk.  We will continue to pursue these issues with all stakeholders as the review progresses.

ROAD FUNDING BILL PASSES SENATE

The Australian Government with the support of the cross-bench Senators has successfully passed the Land Transport Infrastructure Bill 2014.  In line with the election commitment, the legislation delivers $2.1 billion dollars over four years from 2014-15 to 2018-19 to the Roads to Recovery programme.  The funding will be distributed to Australia's local councils, state and territory Governments responsible for local roads in the unincorporated areas (where there are no councils) and the Indian Ocean Territories.
 

ATO FUEL TAX CREDIT WEBINARS

Following the repeal of the carbon tax, the ATO are running webinars for tax professionals and for small businesses that are currently registered for fuel tax credits.

The webinars will bring participants up to date with recent changes to fuel tax credits and provide an overview of our online tools and calculators. Sessions commence 22 September and there are six webinars planned for September and October - three for business and three for tax professionals covering:
  • Changes to fuel tax credit rates since 1 July;
    • Tips and tools to avoid common errors and to get claims right every time; and
    • The benefit of lodging online (small business webinar only).
Small Business
  • Fuel tax credits for small business - recent changes and the benefits of our tools. Click here for more information. 
  • You can also access the webinar schedule at the following url: www.ato.gov.au/ftcwebinar.
 
Tax Professionals
 

REVIEWING THE RULES OF YOUR ASSOCIATION

The ALRTA advises members that we are currently reviewing the constitutional rules under which the association operates.  On 7 August 2014, the National Council agreed in principle to make a range of changes relating to membership classes, functions and rights of officer holders, voting practices and meeting procedures.  The changes are necessary to improve operational clarity and consistency and will not affect the services we provide to members.  We have now sought professional advice and members will vote on the final refined proposals at a special general meeting later in the year.  Changes to the rules require a two-thirds majority so only those matters with a very high level of support will be implemented.  

 


ALRTA NATIONAL EXECUTIVE
President – Grant Robbins (LRTAWA) 
Immediate Past President – Liz Schmidt
Vice President – Kevin Keenan (LRTAV) 
Vice President – Graeme Hoare (LBCA)
Treasurer – Ron Pattel (LRTAQ)  
Secretary – John Beer (LRTAV)
ATA Rep – David Smith (LRTASA)
TruckCare Chair – Kevin Fechner (LRTAV)

Executive Director - Mathew Munro

To contact  any members of the executive, please phone ALRTA Secretariat on 02 6247 5434.
 
REMINDER: TRUCK WEEK 1 - 7 SEPTEMBER

TruckWeek 2014 will bring the trucking industry together to show Australia how we deliver. We carry 70 per cent of Australia’s freight and every item on the shelves of every supermarket. We do it safely, every day and every night.

TruckWeek is a time to celebrate what we do. It’s a time to honour our dedicated staff and tell the community how professional we are.

Everyone in the trucking industry can be a part of TruckWeek 2014 by holding or attending an event. We have some great event ideas for you to consider and all the resources you’ll need.

Once you’ve decided, register your event online. We’ll send you official logos and promote your event through the TruckWeek website, the media and our Twitter feed.

You can also see all the events that people are running as part of TruckWeek 2014.

Together, we can show Australia how trucking delivers.
Copyright © 2014 Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, All rights reserved.


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