Archive, Industry News

Livestock carters strap in for major challenges

LBRCA/ALRTA conference to tackle charging, COR, load restraint and effluent control


Livestock transport is facing a year of significant challenge and change, with enough crossover for the industry as a whole to be interested in the outcomes.

One of the hot button items of recent years, heavy vehicle charging, has followed a somewhat opaque progress, occasionally by the occasional ministerial announcements.

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) executive director Mathew Munro tells ATN he is sure a decision has been made on an alternative charging system and the government is looking to road-test it.

ALRTA met recently with Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities officials to discuss the reform’s next steps but remains concerned that details that would allow operators time to adjust and invest to meet the new dispensation are yet to be clarified.

From that it emerged that governments “will conduct trials of an alternative charging system over the next few years, aiming to demonstrate that their intended ‘end state’ for direct user charging is feasible and has benefits for users and governments”.
“This was a rather enlightening meeting because it is now clear that governments have in fact decided upon a preferred charging system,” Munro says.

ALRTA reckons it will “almost certainly” involve:

  • mass-distance-location charging system for general road use
  • forward-looking cost-base so that charges are collected in advance
  • total heavy vehicle charges increased to build better road infrastructure that delivers improved safety and productivity
  • collected money must be spent on roads but with some level of cross-subsidisation to assist network building
  • lower tier rural and remote roads are unlikely to receive greater funding and will instead rely on ‘community service obligation’ payments to maintain a minimum standard
  • an independent body to determine the total overall charge
  • all participating vehicles will require a telematics system
  • supplementary local charging systems will also be in allowable. These will focus on payment for improved access.

ALRTA says it will participate in the first meeting of an Industry Advisory Committee on March 20 to shape the development of the National Heavy Vehicle Charging Pilot and Business Case Program for Location-Specific Trials.

The issue is due to be discussed in detail at the combined conference of the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA) and ALRTA, March 23-24 in Coffs Harbour.

“Australian Governments last year agreed to continue overcharging the heavy vehicle sector by $189m in 2018/19 and 2019/20,” ALRTA national president Kevin Keenan says. 

“This comes in addition to $1bn in over-charging over the past four years.  Reform of the charging system is desperately needed to stop this blatant rip-off.”

“The 2018 LBRCA/ALRTA Combined Conference will include a presentation from the Australian Government on the plan to move to direct user charging including the new charging calculations, industry trials and responsibility for decision making.

“But charging is only half the story.  That is why we have also invited the Australian Local Government Association to tell us what is needed to actually fix rural roads and provide better access.

“The ATA will also be there to explain how to get the changes that we need.”

Another item high on the agenda is effluent control.

The ALRTA recently met with the NHVR and Australian Logistics Council in Canberra to start development of a registered industry code of practice for livestock effluent management.

Development of the ALRTA code has been funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

Operator consultations will commence during a special session of the conference with wider industry consultation to occur over the rest of the year.

“The Effluent Code will sit under the broader industry Master Code of Practice that is being developed jointly by ATA and ALC,” ALRTA says. 

“The meeting this week was an excellent opportunity to learn about how the Master Code has been developed and to ensure that it contains the necessary content to facilitate seamless integration with an Effluent Code.”

Closely related will be Chain Of Responsibility (COR) reforms, which have recently caused some anguish in the farming community.

“Significant changes to chain of responsibility laws are scheduled for commencement this year,” Keenan says. 

“During the session on CoR, NHVR will explain the key changes and how to be ready.

“A good way to get started is to use a registered industry code of practice to help assess your risks and identify the types of controls that you might consider. 

“Peter Elliot is spearheading the development of a Master Code of Practice and will inform us about what it is and how to use it.

“With a good understanding of the COR changes and the Master Code of Practice, our delegates will be ready to tackle the development of a new industry Code of Practice for Effluent Management.

“This landmark session will first hear about the ALRTA’s overall strategy to improve livestock effluent management throughout the supply chain.  The Australian Livestock Markets Association will then deliver a perspective from elsewhere in the supply chain.

“Delegates will participate in a workshop-style session during which the ALRTA will ask members and other stakeholders to tell us what an effluent code should cover, who it should be applicable to, what risks are involved and what options there are to address them.

“Registration of an effluent code will be a game-changer and these first steps are critical. Courts will use this document to determine best practice and whether or not chain parties have actually done everything reasonably practicable to manage load restraint risks,”


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