Bus SA Member Alert – May 2020

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In this edition: National Heavy Vehicle Charging Pilot large scale on road trial; ATO workplace expense guide for bus drivers; PVTA 2020; Impact of federal and state government COVID-19 initiatives; COVIDSafe App; Latest BIC and industrial relations news.

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President's corner

Ben Romanowski, President Bus SA

Welcome to the online version of your Member Alert. With the launch of a new Bus SA website (see Andrea’s report below) and with the technology now available to  us, this is a perfect opportunity to trial a new way of getting information to you. Hope you like it, we’ll be looking for your feedback.

Get involved in the National Heavy Vehicle Charging Pilot (NHVCP) large scale on road trial

The NHVCP small-scale on-road trial has finished and the report is on the DPTI website.The small-scale trial was a ‘proof of concept’ model. It tested whether mock invoices could be produced using data gathered from distance recording (telematics) devices in vehicles. The mock invoices compared a vehicle’s mass‒distance charges to the amount of PAYGO charges the vehicle was estimated to have accrued during the same period.

The large-scale national pilot will be underway soon. DPTI wants to work with industry to understand the impact of any alternative charges on individual operators and the whole industry. This is a great chance for you to get involved and have your say. Email: national.pilot@infrastructure.gov.au.

The ATO workplace expense guide for bus drivers

The ATO has a new section on its website to help bus drivers work out how to report on income and allowances, and what to claim as work-related deductions. Please encourage your drivers to check out the Bus drivers – income and work-related deductions page on the ATO website.

The Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2020

This was passed on 13 April 2020 and can be downloaded on the APTIA Industrial Relations Industry News page, along with explanatory notes. I suppose I’ll put all the spare time on my hands at the moment to good use, and get up to speed with the new Award.

Regards, Ben.

Lauran Huefner headshot

Government Matters

Lauran Huefner, Director Bus SA

Impact of federal and state government COVID-19 initiatives

As we mentioned previously in March, we have been in contact with the various Ministers that hold responsibility for bus operations. I was able to speak with the Minister for Transport, Stephan Knoll, who was sympathetic to the situation operators find themselves in. On his recommendation I have written to the Treasurer outlining the initiatives we believe will provide useful support to the industry broadly.

These include: the removal of fees associated with deregistering vehicles; re-registering; and associated inspections. We are hopeful of some response in the near future, especially with the support of the BIC position paper (discussed elsewhere in this Alert).

I understand that SAPTA is attempting to understand the impact of COVID-19 on regional contract arrangements and is trying to find a middle ground that keeps operators supported.

The Department for Education has responded to our request for maintaining income by providing assurances that they will follow contracts as laid out. Therefore, if schools are open runs will operate – you will receive payment.

We are aware that school bus operators have not been paid for the 4 pupil free days that closed Term 1. The Board has taken the view that based on the letter we have received, it is most unlikely that government will change that position.

We are nonetheless responding to that letter, seeking confirmation that there will be no increase in the number of pupil free days across the year. In other words, if there are no more than five pupil free days in total, and four of those have already been used, there remains one more pupil free day for which no payment will be made.

We will keep you informed on this.

In general, it is important to note that federal government initiatives, in combination with state government investment, are keeping most operators liquid.

We are reminding government that some operators could struggle to achieve 30% reduction in real income which is the threshold trigger for most government support, but that doesn’t mean operators are not struggling.  Again we strongly encourage you to discuss your business position with your accountant and your financiers.

Please get in touch if you have any queries (lhuefner@bussa.asn.au).

Regards, Lauran.

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EO's report

Andrea Overall, Executive Officer Bus SA

Bus SA website 

The Bus SA website has had a facelift! The newly upgraded site features a clean, simple look to make it easy to navigate. There are also a couple of new sections that enable Bus SA to share and report on up-to-date industry information, as it happens. The new sections are:

COVID-19 resources – We have collated as much relevant information as possible to help you navigate available government assistance and emergency response advice. You’ll find information about JobKeeper, ATO administrative relief, links to all the government initiatives, how to get banking assistance, and mental health plans. Click here to visit the page.

News – a regularly updated area where we post the latest in bus industry news, policy, governance, thinking, and events. Please keep an eye on this page, it will be updated regularly. Click here to visit the page.

New Member Alert format

With the Bus SA website up and running, this is a good opportunity to trial a new online format for Member Alerts. Rather than the PDF documents we’ve been sending you until now, this new format is fully online, but don’t worry it’s still easy to print if that’s the way you prefer to read.

We’d love your feedback, does this work for you?

Please feel free to email me at admin@bussa.asn.au about the Member Alert format or the new website.

Regards, Andrea.

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As you well know, the COVIDSafe app has been recommended to all Australians.

It will help keep you, your family and your community safe from further spread of COVID-19 through early notification of possible exposure. With a critical mass of Australians using the app, government will be able to reduce restrictions more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

Bus SA believes the app is safe to use we genuinely recommend that you download it, and encourage your staff and family members to do likewise.

When you register, you provide your name, phone number and postcode, and selects your age range. This generates an encrypted code. The app goes on to use the encrypted reference code, date, time, duration and proximity of contacts – that is all. If you delete the app all contact information is deleted.

Please have a look at these Frequently Asked Questions released by government. You can find the app on iTunes or the Google Playstore under COVIDSafe.

Latest from the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC)

Conference cancelled

Due to COVID-19, the October 27-30 BIC Conference in NZ has been cancelled. Plans are progressing for the 2021 conference in Brisbane.

COVID-19 Industry Hub

On April 4, the BIC launched the COVID-19 Industry Hub to keep you abreast of COVID-advocacy activities. On it you will find the following documents:

  • The de-regulated sector report on COVID-19 impacts and recommended government stimulus. On April 21, 2020, the BIC provided a report on the de-regulated sector to the Department of Treasury and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, all Ministers and shadow Ministers responsible for portfolios involving transport, infrastructure and tourism.
  • Industry brief to government on bus services and the manufacturing sector. On April 2, 2020, the BIC provided an over-arching bus and coach industry COVID-19 issues report, also calling for public transport as an essential service, to the office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack, Assistant Minister for Transport, Scott Buchholz, state Transport and Infrastructure Ministers and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
  • The Bus & Coach Industry Workplace Guide (Edition 4). An executive guide on the practical management of the workplace during COVID-19 disruption whilst also meeting your obligations under current Australian law.

Industrial relations news

Ian MacDonald, National Industrial Relations Manager APTIA

Everybody Out

An industry newsletter produced by the Australian Public Transport Industrial Association (APTIA), the industrial arm of the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC). See the April 2020 edition.

Also see this Q&A based on COVID-19 business-related questions that many in the industry have been asking.

COVID-19 related changes to the PVTA 2020

The President of the Fair Work Commission has decided under his own initiative (see section 157 (3)) to make changes to all Awards or, at least 102, of which the PVTA 2020 (due to come in on 13 April) is one, along these lines:

  • An unpaid pandemic leave provision will allow an employee to take unpaid pandemic leave if they are required to isolate because of medical advice or as part of a Government response to the pandemic. The reasonable person test applies to any proof required of the requirement. This leave does not affect any other entitlements and does not discontinue the employees service. (This variation has a life which ends on 30 June 2020)
  • Under the PVTA, both the employer and employee can request that excessive annual leave is taken. It usually is available where there is at least 8 weeks outstanding and no less than 4 weeks still available.
  • The proposed variation will allow an employee and employer to agree that the employee can take 4 weeks leave over an 8-week period where they will be paid at half pay for those 8 weeks. The deduction from their annual leave will still be just 4 weeks.