Is This the New Normal?

is this the new normal?

As life begins to return to normal, the Livestock and Rural Transporter Association of Queensland held its annual conference on the Sunshine Coast, asking the question, is this the new normal?

The issues which have bothered the rural trucking industry in the past have not gone away, and as pandemic concerns become less front of mind, the LRTAQ conference, in Marcoola, Queensland, was an opportunity to start readdressing those perennial problems.

“We’ve had a difficult time from 2019 through until now, with the fires and everything else you and your industry have had to deal with,” said Sal Petroccitto, National Heavy Vehicle CEO, speaking to the conference. “I continue to be amazed at the level of resilience that you continue to display and I think, without that level of resilience, this country would have been in a much worse state. What has also eventuated in our mind is the importance that your sector broadly plays. 

“We are unique, as a regulator, because we don’t only regulate, we also facilitate a productivity agenda, and that’s probably the hardest thing to achieve in a country that’s federated and everyone has different interests. I do believe we have achieved some wins, but I also believe there’s a lot more to do. 

“We do listen, you might not see the results straight away, but we do take your feedback on board. In September 2020, we did remove the requirement in the livestock permits to include registration numbers. It was an extra administrative burden placed on transport and farmers. To date I don’t think the world has stopped, as a result of us making the change.

“We also kicked off the national road train prime mover notice, giving operators a lot more flexibility in the way you use your equipment and the way those vehicles move across the country. We will try and continue to push envelopes like that. Sometimes we do butt heads with road agencies and with others, but what I can assure you is that we will continue to listen.”

is this the new normal?

At the end of his speech Sal re-emphasised the need for the trucking industry, as a whole, to participate in the discussion around the review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law process. He implored the industry very strongly to ensure that the policymakers really do understand what needs to change in the law.

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters association Executive Director, Mathew Munro also stressed the importance of feedback to the HVNL review. 

“We came up with a submission which had 108 recommendations for changes in the law,” said Mat. “This law is broken, there’s a lot that needs fixing. Here we are in 2022, the law is still unbalanced, the proposals are unbalanced and not even costed. We are nowhere near the end of this. 

“They released one set of recommendations, on the Fatigue General Schedule and it was terrible, it was just horrendous. Chief problem was recommendations which represent somewhere between a 17 and 21 per cent productivity reduction and it doesn’t deliver increased flexibility. It was rubbish.

“That proposal should never have seen the light of day. We need to engage in this process. It would be nice to throw it in the bin and start again, but the fact is, it is continuing. We are working with this process, but I think this does illustrate a more fundamental problem with the structure of the National Transport Commission. They should be independent and speak without fear or favour, yet five of the six commissioners are long time public servants and just one is an industry representative.”

is this the new normal?

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