Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, Media Release, 29 October 2021
The ALRTA has rejected an NTC [National Transport Commission] proposal to reduce maximum weekly work time to 60 hours, increase the minimum daily continuous rest period to 8 hours and prohibit all driving 14 hours after the end of a long rest break. The proposals were outlined in an Industry Workshop Paper on a Fatigue Management General Schedule published by the NTC in October 2021.
ALRTA National President Scott McDonald said that the both the proposal and the consultation timeframe were naïve and unworkable.
“ALRTA is extremely disappointed that industry was given just one week to consider refined proposals relating to the Fatigue Management General Schedule. This timeframe was wholly inadequate for engaging grass roots members on an issue of core importance for the HVNL review,” said President McDonald.
“Furthermore, all of industry was surprised to find that the proposed general schedule entirely failed to appropriately balance the fundamental HVNL objectives of safety and productivity. It is almost unfathomable, that after three years of industry consultation, a general schedule would be proposed that immediately invoked a total rejection by industry.
“While ALRTA acknowledges that the proposed general schedule has been developed with reference to fatigue research, we assert that it was, and remains, possible for the NTC to develop a general schedule that fully aligns with Ministerial directives while delivering a net improvement in both safety and productivity.
“The current proposal will negatively impact productivity, wages, return on capital, the viability of some journeys and driver shortages. With a limit of 12 hours per day of work time, it is not necessary to increase the long continuous rest break to 8 hours or to introduce a new rule prohibiting driving after 14 hours from the end of a long rest break. These rules will reduce flexibility and motivate tired drivers to keep working instead of resting as and when they need to.
“Before this process can reasonably move forward, the general schedule must be rebalanced to take account of road transport operational realities in an Australian context. More generally, it is disappointing that the review has been underway for three years and we are still examining unbalanced, uncosted options with one week consultation timeframes.
“As a dedicated and mature transport policy commission, the NTC should have the experience and resources to do much better,” he said.
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