Member Alert – February 2022

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COVID update – school bus driver contacts must ‘test to stay’

The Department for Education has introduced a new protocol: Testing, Isolating and Quarantine for School Settings.

The department considers the school bus to be an extension of the classroom, therefore within this protocol drivers are considered to be ‘ancillary staff and contractors’. See the last column in the linked document.

So if a bus driver has been in contact with a positive case while driving the am and pm school bus services they are considered a ‘classroom contact’ and must ‘test to stay’.

‘Test to stay’ simply means the driver is required to do a RAT test (supplied by Education) before work for 7 days, and follow the ‘classroom contact advice’ at the bottom of the Testing, Isolating and Quarantine for School Settings document.

A school’s administration will advise drivers if there has been a positive student travelling on their bus and supply them with 7 rapid antigen tests.

The driver must test themselves every morning for 7 days. If they receive a negative result they may drive the am and pm bus service that day.

The driver should also follow the ‘classroom contact advice’ at the bottom of the Testing, Isolating and Quarantine for School Settings document.

Please note that if the driver has been deemed a ‘close contact’ from activities outside of the am and pm bus service they are to follow SA Health guidelines regarding testing, isolating and quarantine.

Please remind all drivers that they should be wearing masks at all times and not be attending work if unwell. And again as per the contract, please ensure that they are keeping an accurate student roll for each journey.

COVID update – updated information from Fair Work Ombudsman

Just a reminder that the coronavirus information  on the Fair Work website continues to be updated regularly as the situation evolves.

You will find information about workplace laws, obligations and entitlements for employers and employees:

  • affected by Covid
  • seeking Covid vaccination guidance
  • covered by awards varied by the Fair Work Commission during coronavirus.

From an industry perspective, it really is one of the most trusted sources of information in the country. Visit Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws – Fair Work Ombudsman to see up-to-date advice you can trust.

COVID update – Bus SAfe program on ice

A quick update on the status of the Bus SAfe program. We have had to put everything on ice this term (thank you Omicron) because of the uncertainty around school visits. Hopefully we will be able to go in full steam ahead in Term 2.

We now have a presenter in the Riverland along with our presenters in Robe and Balaklava. So, with me filling in the gaps, we now have much of the state covered.

Ice skating photo

If you want to know anything about the program, or get involved, please do contact me. 
Andrea Overall (

Dept for Innovation and Skills – another round of business support grants

The South Australian Government has announced an additional round of business support grants to help those impacted by the health restrictions in place since 27 December 2021.

  • The Tourism, Hospitality and Gym Grant – Additional Round – January 2022 will provide additional grants of up to $22,000 for eligible tourism, hospitality and gym businesses that experience a 30% turnover decline for the period 10 January 2022 to 30 January 2022 when compared to an equivalent reference period. This includes any business required to operate under the density restrictions of 1 person per 7 square metres.
  • The Business Hardship Grant – Additional Round – January 2022 will provide additional grants of up to $8,000 for all other South Australian businesses that experience a 50% turnover decline for the period 10 January 2022 to 30 January 2022 when compared to an equivalent reference period.

Please note: The grants in this support package are in addition to the Tourism, Hospitality and Gym Grant and Business Hardship Grant announced in December 2021, and relate to the turnover period 10 – 30 January 2022.

Businesses that received a payment for a COVID-19 Tourism Hospitality and Gym Grant or Business Hardship Grant in January 2022 will receive an automatic payment for this round.

All other eligible businesses must submit an application when this process opens from 14 February 2022.

Detailed information and eligibility criteria is available from the SA Treasury website. Any queries in relation to the COVID-19 Support Funds can be lodged via email at: COVID -19 Support Fund.

BIC – View from Canberra

In May at the latest, Australians will vote for the 47th parliament of Australia.

Choices + choices + choices. Or are there?

In the 2019 federal election campaign, the Coalition was outspending Labor on roads. Labor was spending double the Coalition on public transport – close to $30bil promised by Labor – admittedly mostly to heavy and light rail. The Greens, fed up with both parties and their “failure over decades to plan ahead and meet the demands of [Australia’s] growing cities and regions”, pledged $25bil over the decade to fund both rail and bus services.

In our January online e-bulletin, we reported that unlike the 2019 federal election, climate change may not be the headline act for the 2022 election – after all doesn’t the Australian voter have other pressing concerns – mostly related to anything-covid and the cost of living? A quick check of the current policy platforms of Liberal, Labor and Greens is quite revealing and maybe an indication that even our political leaders are finding it challenging to find the pulse of their voter.

A common denominator between all 3 parties is ‘the future’. Labor is planning for it. Liberal is building for it. The Greens are fighting for it. Labor and the Greens share some commonality in indigenous treaties and renewable energy in their top 5. Meanwhile the Liberals are building for economic recovery and support for small business.

On 31 Jan, ‘anti-vaxxer’ protestors setup camp in Canberra calling for the resignation of Australia’s political leaders. Canberra has also seen Invasion Day marches the week prior and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the longest protest in global history – the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. COP26 saw nation-wide protesting on climate change in November last year. There is no doubt that the ‘voter’s campaign’ is in full swing and the closer we get to the federal election, we may continue to see week to week shifts in the topic of the day.

Maybe the voter will find ‘choice’ in the Independent candidate – perhaps from any one of the new 13 female
candidates (who according to some media reports are all Liberal defectors); or the United Australia Party (led by the former Liberal MP Craig Kelly); or Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (who is determined to put a candidate in all 151 house of rep seats); or the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (on a mission to get rid of the “Coles and Woolworths of politics”); or Katters Australian Party (just looking for a ‘fair go’).

We think that Australia’s balance sheet, Covid management and lack of skilled workers and job security are going to be at the centre of this federal election – although let’s not completely rule out climate change and renewable energy.

The BIC commenced our campaign late last year meeting with the Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce (Minister for Transport) and Senator Bridget McKenzie (Minister for Regionalisation). On Feb 9, the BIC will meet with the federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese at a private dinner. The Australian parliament is set to meet for 2 weeks in February and again in March. And although parliament house remains closed for face-to-face engagement, the BIC will be taking our industry business to ministers and shadow ministers by way of nearby cafes or online.

The Morrison government will deliver its budget on March 29 – should be an interesting watch – particularly considering the Omicron wave which has affected much of the country with supply chain issues, staff shortages and low consumer confidence.  Morrison’s mid-year economic outlook (delivered in December last year prior to Omicron and many returning to self-imposed isolation) projected a stronger-than-expected outlook, but it is our bet that the average punter out there will be looking at how smartly the borrowed money has been spent and the plan to reduce the deficit.

The BIC has submitted a pre-budget funding report to the Australian Treasury. In our pre-budget submission, we provided key funding recommendations to support net zero heavy vehicle safety and the necessary skilled and resilient workforce we need (so many in industry are suffering from lack of access to skilled workers). Our submission also called for funding a tourism campaign to support land transport tourism.

We will be releasing our federal election policy platform in the coming weeks. 

Bus & coach industry statistics

Take this to your federal budget party or bbq in March! Or take your own message to your local representative ahead of the federal election.

  • The bus and coach industry in Australia directly employs more than 85,000 people in a range of jobs including drivers, mechanics, engineers, skilled production workers and transport professionals in various specialised fields such as planning and service delivery.
  • Pre-Covid (2018-19) bus was the most-used form of public transport, with bus journeys making up 54% of all public transport journeys.
  • Buses emit just 2 million tons (or 2%) of enhanced greenhouse gases per annum. Compared to 4 million tonnes for trains and 44 million tonnes for cars.
  • One full bus can take more than 50 cars off the road (actually it is capable of taking up to 100 cars off the road!)
  • According to the ABS, there are over 103,000 buses on our roads. This figure however also includes small omnibus (9 to 15 seats incl. driver) and also includes buses aged 26 or more. The ‘real’ commercial-use bus figure is closer to just under 42,000. 
  • Over 60 percent of medium to large buses and coaches are built locally on either imported chassis or as a monocoque.
  • $5 billion is contributed to the Australian economy each year from the manufacture of buses and coaches.
  • There can be up to 40 manufacturing and parts supply companies (local and international) that contribute to the final assembly of a single bus or coach.
  • Close to $1.5 billion is contributed to the Australian economy each year in supplies and services to keep the buses operational and in service.