BIC National E-Bulletin 2021 August

National Update from the Bus Industry Confederation [August 2021 Edition]

The BIC is loathed to do it! We know so many of us bussies were hanging on to the last chance for a face-to-face for industry at the national conference in Brisbane this year. The BIC has made the (wise) decision to postpone to 2022. Details outlined below.

In other news, the BAN submits our thoughts to the NTC on their proposed pricing methodology for heavy vehicle charging for 2022-2023. We also visit the importance of keeping the bus fleet well maintained and to OEM specifications. This bulletin also provides a sneak-peek of the long-awaited industry snapshot report and we revisit the casual employee in light of a recent High Court decision.
National Spotlight

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Your Industry, Your Workplace

National Spotlight 

BIC postpones the Moving People 2021 National Conference – Mark your diaries with new dates!
The BIC has regrettably made the decision to postpone the planned 2021 National Conference to 2022. The ongoing National Cabinet ‘freedom negotiations’ has made it impossible for the BIC to reasonably forecast the likely trends of various Premiers and Chief Ministers on policies relating to lock-down and hot-spot zones.

The new dates are 13 to 16 November 2022 at the Sofitel Brisbane Central.

After the postponement of the Bus Expo in Sydney, we know that the chance of a final industry get together in 2021 fell to BIC. Whilst we can’t get this one across the line, we still believe that an industry forum in the near future is a must-have, particularly given the high-impact issues arising and currently effecting industry nationally. The BIC is currently looking at the feasibility of holding an industry summit in Canberra in the early part of next year. We believe that industry needs a face-to-face forum for information sharing and robust discussion relating to national regulation and reform agendas of government, zero-emissions, industrial relations and technical issues effecting the industry. Stay tuned. We will keep you informed of our progress.

Bus Australia Network submits a response to the NTC’s Heavy Vehicle Charging Determination Consultation RIS
The Bus Australia Network (with significant input from BusVIC and Professor John Stanley), submitted its response to the NTC’s public consultation on its heavy vehicle charging determination for 2022-2023. The cost allocation methodology proposed by the NTC included significant changes from the previous approaches of the NTC.
The BAN identified 2 particular high impact changes in the charging principles put forward:

  • changes in the assessment of equivalent standard axle (ESA) impacts of different vehicle classes on HV road costs and
  • changes in the way regulatory costs are allocated (such as funding the NHVR).

The NTC points out that current heavy vehicle charges have fallen short of recovering all allocated costs since 2017-18. However, the NTC report also shows that charge revenue exceeded the HV cost base from 2012-13 to 2016-17. Evidently, the cost-recovery rate varies over time which questions any obligation to improve that cost recovery rate.

In our response, the BAN also made the point that given the good safety record of buses, the justification for a relatively large cost for bus to fund the operations of the NHVR is an unreasonable burden; the NHVR does not typically work as hard for bus as compared with truck-work. The BAN argues that the costs of running the NHVR should be more cost-driven, determined by the work that is required across different sectors and vehicle classes.

It is evident that as the vehicle fleet electrifies, the RUC will become increasingly irrelevant. Any future alternative road pricing model should be based on (telematics driven) mass/distance/location (MDL) pricing, an approach that is also better suited to incorporate charges for external costs of HV road use. The BAN also put forward to the NTC, the noticeable absence of external costs in the current pricing model. Efficient road use needs to also recognise, as part of the pricing model, the externalities
(ie., congestion mitigation, environmental gains, road safety savings, social inclusion benefits).

The full submission is available for download here.

Do you have a plan? – Make sure your bus is safe with appropriate fire mitigation systems and drivers are trained in bus fire evacuation protocols
The recent bus fire in Campbelltown Sydney on Monday 16 August is an example of the importance of bus maintenance and driver/passenger evacuation protocols in the event of on-board bus fires. The OTSI has started an investigation and findings will be some time away yet. As a part of their investigation, OTSI will be looking at the engineering and maintenance history of the bus, the actions taken by the driver and emergency services.

The bus industry is a stand-out sector in our commitment to safety. The BIC does not normally get up on our ‘preacher’s box’, however we feel that this latest bus fire is a timely reminder to industry. Whilst many bus fleets are operating at reduced capacity, it presents a good opportunity to attend to engineering/maintenance advice provided by the OEM of the buses in the fleet and to ensure fire mitigation systems are installed and functioning.

The BIC’s full suite of industry guidelines and advisories on best practice on a range of safety matters is available on our website. Both bus fire mitigation and bus fire evacuation protocols are on our dedicated advisory web page. 

Keep up to date with the increased road user charges with the ATO

From 1 July 2021, the road user charge increased from 25.8 cents per litre to 26.4 cents per litre. This means the fuel tax credit rate for liquid fuels used in heavy vehicles for travelling on public roads will change to 16.3 cents per litre.
From 1 July 2021, excise rates will also increase for biodiesel manufactured in Australia. This means the fuel tax credit rate for B100 used for all other business uses will change to 8.5 cents per litre.

Sneak a peek on the soon to be released 2020 snapshot report on the Bus & Coach Industry

Data on the bus and coach industry is notoriously difficult to extrapolate from nationally available databases (such as ABS and BITRE). The BIC has put in a mammoth effort since mid-2019 to collate and interpret data and provide a true analysis of the bus fleet on Australia’s roads. The BIC has been ready for some time to release this report – hoping this could happen in Canberra during a parliamentary sitting week in order to highlight the economic and social importance of our industry. Alas – that is not to be. We intend to release the industry report to BIC members and federal parliamentarians in the next few weeks. The report has 6 major sections:

  • Bus Manufacturing
  • The Fleet on the Road
  • The Bus Operations
  • The Bus Passengers
  • Long Distance, Tour and Charter sector
  • Industry Areas of Policy Focus.

Until the report is released in full, you can get your sneak-peek here.

August View from Canberra takes a look at ‘change benefits’ for the bus industry

It is fair to say that uninvited change often results in vast improvements in our lot in life. Change presents the opportunity to transform and to be inventors of innovation. Massive change is evident in our own moving people industry. Public transport has been a major change-driver over the past century. The growth patterns of Australia’s cities, for example, could never have happened without the introduction of horse-drawn trams (circa 1885) which sparked the spread of inner-city suburbs.

Continue reading to find out more about the Views from Canberra on ‘change drivers’.

Your Industry, Your Workplace

The Latest News from APTIA
In this month’s edition of “Everybody Out”, APTIA takes a look at:

  • A report on my upcoming meeting at the ILO in Geneva
  • All you need to know from the High Court decision in Rossato
  • An update on vaccination law i.e. to vax or not to vax?
  • Most importantly the winners and losers from our ‘working from home’ competion.

Go to the APTIA website to download the August edition of Everybody Out.

High Court ruling on the Rossato v Workpac case

The decisions handed down to Workpac by the Federal Court for both Skene (16 Aug 2018) and Rossato (25 May 2020) were the catalyst for significant changes in the treatment of casual employment in Australia. Changes that would see employed casuals with any expectation of continuing employment, could not be considered as a ‘casual’ and therefore eligible for entitlements such as paid personal leave, annual leave and other NES entitlements (such as leave without notice on termination and redundancy payments). 

The outcomes of the Rossato and Skene cases held specific ramifications for the bus industry in particular our regional school bus driver workforce the bulk of which is casually employed.

On 4 August, the High Court handed down its decision on the case of Rossato v. Workpac. This decision allows employers to employ casuals, so long as the mechanisms provided in section 15A of the Fair Work Act are adhered to, i.e. at the commencement of employment, the casual employee has no firm advance commitment of ongoing work, and is able to accept or reject such work.

A comprehensive analysis of the High Court decision and impacts for bus business is provided in the August 2021 edition of Everybody Out.

ACCI releases its 1st Edition Employer Guide on Covid-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace

On 16 August, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) released their Employers Guide on “Covid-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace”. As a member of ACCI, the BIC is able to share this guide with you. It is one of the best we have seen currently in the Covid vaccination information space and we highly recommend any employer considering implementing vaccination programs
or protocols in your work place to consider the information put forward in ACCI’s guidelines.

The guide aims to help employers understand how to communicate about the vaccine, what employer’s obligations are when it comes to vaccinations for employees, based on employment law and workplace health and safety. The guide also provides answers to some of the more common questions employers may have around the vaccine and its impact on workers and workplace.

Download the guideline here.

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