Member Alert – July/August 2022

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BusSAfe update - we're up and running

We’ve a full school term of delivering BusSAfe to rural and regional students under our belts. From here on in, things will just get busier for a program which, thus far, has been very successful. I won’t bore you with detail, instead I will let the statistics, feedback and photos speak for themselves.

Term 2 statistics:

  • 93 schools contacted – 36 responses (38.7 per cent)
  • 28 sessions delivered at 17 schools
  • 1128 students attended

27 sessions already booked for Term 3 at 16 schools (1027 students). Over ten schools have expressed interest (yet to be booked).

Some feedback we have received from the schools:

  1. I liked everything, very interactive, I liked how we went to the buses and for the children who don’t catch buses they could relate to what had been covered (question: what was best part of the session).
  2. Going to the bus and seeing what had been talked about in a real situation (question: what was best part of the session).
  3. The presenter was great- obviously experienced with working with kids. Was very patient and took the time to answer lots of the kids’ questions (question: were you happy with your presenter).
  4. Staying back from the edge of the road, to never walk in front of a bus or cars, how to board and leave the bus, safe behaviour and how be respectful to the driver and everyone else on the bus. The children also were very interested in the outside parts of the bus (question: what do you think the children learned).

Please like and share our Facebook page and help us get the word out there: facebook.com/bussafesa.

To find out more, please contact me,
Andrea Overall
admin@bussa.asn.au

Fuel tax credit rates increase from 1 August 2022

Fuel tax credit rates have increased from 1 August 2022 in line with fuel excise duty indexation. The new rates are now available on the ATO website

The biodiesel rate increased on 1 July 2022 and again on 1 August.

Temporary reduction in fuel tax credits

The temporary reduction in fuel tax credit rates is for 6 months from 30 March to 28 September 2022.

Until that time, you won’t be able to claim fuel tax credits for use in heavy vehicles for travelling on public roads. This is because the road user charge exceeds the excise duty paid, which reduces the fuel tax credit rate to nil.

If you:

  • acquired fuel during this period that includes the higher duty rate paid by the manufacturer or distributor before 30 March, then the duty paid may be higher than the fuel tax credit you can claim. If you are experiencing cash flow difficulties and can’t pay your BAS on time, you can contact the ATO on 13 11 42 to request more time to pay the difference.
  • are experiencing cash flow difficulties for other reasons, the ATO have support measures available to help you.

The fuel tax credit calculator can help you use the right rates, even when rates change during the BAS period.

Free mental health coaching program for small business owners

NewAccess for Small Business Owners is a free and confidential mental health coaching program developed by Beyond Blue to give small business owners – including sole traders – the support they need. 

The program uses Low-intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LiCBT) that allows participants to recognise the way they think, act, and feel and break unhelpful thoughts. 

Over six sessions, coaches with a small business background will work with you to overcome difficult issues, providing you with practical skills to manage stress and get you back to feeling like yourself. 

At your first appointment your coach will complete an initial assessment with you, and develop a program tailored to your individual needs. 

Program overview
  • A free and confidential mental health coaching program, developed by Beyond Blue
  • Designed to support small business owners like you, manage life pressures so you can move forward
  • The structured six session program will give you practical tools
  • You’ll work with a coach who will guide you through a tailored, personal program
  • No doctor’s referral or mental health treatment plan required – so you don’t have to visit a doctor first

It’s available via phone, video call from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEST.  The program is closed on public holidays

NewAccess for Small Business Owners is available nationally by phone or video call. Call 1300 945 301 or visit the Beyond Blue website.

Austroads launches 2-year strategy for Assessing Fitness to Drive implementation

Austroads has launched new projects to support implementation of the national Assessing Fitness to Drive standards.

Working with relevant stakeholders (such as State and Territory driver licensing authorities, the National Transport Commission, health professionals and the transport industry), their objective is to support the safety of drivers with medical conditions and the safety of other road users.

Awareness and education are key to their strategy, starting with a focus on health professionals. The objective is to build confidence in addressing fitness to drive, and embed early conversations into routine management of health conditions, impairments or disabilities likely to affect driving.

If these conversations happen in a consistent supportive way, drivers are more likely to meet their road safety obligations and engage with management approaches such as conditional licensing, driving restrictions and more regular medical reviews, so they can keep driving as long as it’s safe.

Austroads is establishing a community of practice to enable knowledge sharing and partnership building. A broader Implementation Advisory Group will also inform the body of work and support collaboration across stakeholder groups.

Download Assessing Fitness to Drive: Implementation Strategy 2022.

Australasian Bus & Coach Expo

5 & 6 October 2022 in Sydney

Get along to the country’s biggest bus and coach expo.

As we move to zero emission modes of transport, the Sydney expo provides a unique opportunity to see and evaluate battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses at the one location.

Over $50 million worth of vehicles and equipment will be featured across 14,000 square metres, with more than 100 exhibition booths showcasing products and services under the same roof.

Visit www.busandcoachexpo.com.au to find out more.

BIC View from Canberra

Will the new Australian government bring the change we need?

The Australian Labor Party has formed a government with a slim majority (of 1) in the House of Representatives. The Coalition has 58 seats and the remaining 16 seats in the House of Rep’s fall to the cross bench which is predominantly Green and Teal. The ALP doesn’t have a majority in the senate and will need the Greens (12 seats) to pass legislation. The other Senate seats are held by One Nation (2 seats), the Jacqui Lambie Network (2 seats), United Australia Party (1 seat) and David Pocock (Independent).

Such a diverse mix can make the job of advocacy more difficult as there is a need to convince more individuals that our cause has merit. The BIC’s national “parlay” now relies on garnering the support beyond the two big parties which is the traditional playground of Australian politics. The BIC Secretariat and BIC Council ramped up its advocacy efforts as soon as Prime Minister Albanese announced his Cabinet along with Peter Dutton leading the shadow cabinet and the Greens their portfolios.

From a bus and coach perspective we anticipate positive outcomes for the industry from the newly formed Australian parliament. Prime Minister Albanese is a long-term supporter of buses and public transport. He has appointed Catherine King as the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government. Albo, in his recognition of the importance of infrastructure and transport to ensure a productive nation, has also appointed Senator Carol Brown as the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

These are not the only government advocacy targets of the BIC. Clearly in our sights, as we transition the fleet to zero emissions, is Chris Bowen – Minister for Climate Change and Energy and Brendan O’Conner – Minister for Skills and Training. With the federal government strongly focussed on local manufacturing, we also have Ed Husic – Minister for Industry and Science and Senator Tim Ayres – Assistant Minister for Manufacturing. An Industrial relations shake-up is also on the table with Tony Burke – Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. All of these portfolios held by the new government are firmly in our sights.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Senator Bridget McKenzie and the Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Tony Pasin are also on our dancing card. So too are Senator Libby Watson-Brown – the Greens spokesperson for Infrastructure, Transport and Sustainable Cities, Adam Brandt – Greens spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change and Workplace Relations and Penny Allman-Payne – Greens spokesperson for Industry, Transition, and Regional Development.

This makes for quite an interesting “dance card” for the BIC as we traverse the not-so-majority, to the major-minority and the not-so-quiet cross bench which in itself holds a different game plan. We will be busy!

BIC’s advocacy focus will include ensuring a safe and sustainable transition to zero emission buses and addressing skills and workforce shortages. Other areas of focus include removing barriers to local manufacturing and innovation, minimising the negative impacts of the reforms to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport on industry.

Our industrial relations arm, APTIA will be working hard to ensure industrial relations changes work for Industry, our employers and employees.

Buses always feature in elections – well the obligatory campaign bus does. But at this election the ALP made a big bus commitment. Anthony Albanese announced he would partner with the McGowan Labor Government to deliver an electric bus manufacturing facility and more than 130 new and locally manufactured buses for Perth.

The new Australian government has also committed to develop Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy and promises to deliver a new National Urban Policy Framework. They will roll out Hydrogen Highways nationally, matching the funding already committed by NSW and Victoria, making the same amount available to other jurisdictions on a matching basis. They also announced the establishment of a real-world vehicle fuel testing program to inform consumer choice.

The BIC will ensure that these announcements will benefit the bus and coach industry through our concerted advocacy campaign and reputation of working constructively with governments on policy and reform.

We welcome the opportunity to work with the 47th Australian Parliament on behalf of bus operators, manufacturers and associated service providers. We all want the same thing – better buses and better cities.

Roz Chivers
Executive Director – Bus Industry Confederation

Wage Rates information from Ian Macdonald (APTIA)

Consumer price inflation has surged again, rising to 6.1% annually in the June quarter, well ahead of private sector wage growth of 2.4% a year, which remains near historic lows.

Annual inflation increased from 5.1% in the March quarter to 6.1% in June, while the RBA’s preferred measures of underlying inflation, the trimmed mean, and the weighted median, grew by 4.9% (up from 3.7% in March) and 4.2% (3.2%) respectively, according to the ABS.

The Bureau said in a statement that the annual CPI rise is the largest since the introduction of the GST in 2000, while the quarterly increase of 1.8% is the second highest since the introduction of the GST in 2000 (with last quarter’s 2.1% rise the highest).

Wage rises are now way behind headline CPI, with the best measure, the WPI, growing by 2.4% annually in the private sector in the March quarter. The June quarter WPI figures, which will allow a direct comparison with today’s CPI, are set to be released on August 17.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe said last month that he expects the CPI to reach 7% by the end of the year. After years of calling for larger wage rises, he has more recently expressed concerns about the wage-price spiral and suggested that increases greater than 4% would not be sustainable and that a “steady state” rise would be 3.5%.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus, however, described wage-price spiral fears as “a total boomer fantasy”.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says that inflation is likely to peak at 7.75% in the December quarter then decline over the next two years, while real wage rises will return next financial year, but the ACTU says the forecast only “deepens” the pay crisis, with the resumption of growth in mid-2024 meaning workers will have suffered four years of going backwards.

Treasury expected headline inflation of 5.25% by the middle of next year, 3.5% by the end of next year and 2.75% by the middle of 2024 – back inside the RBA’s target range. Official agreements data showing rises of just 2.7% a year.

The most recent official data on wage movements in enterprise agreements shows that those approved by the FWC in the March quarter of this year paid an average annualised rise of just 2.7%.

However, the measure is a lagging indicator, given it is released three months after the quarter. Its lagging indicator status is also due to the time taken to finalise, lodge and win approval of deals. Some high-profile bargaining claims are seeking 6%, such as the CPSU-MEAA log at the ABC and the FSU log served on major banks.

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% in the June quarter, the lowest level since February 1974, according to recent ABS data.

Thank you to our partners

As ever, Bus SA is supremely grateful for the ongoing support of our fantastic Partners.

They’re the best in the biz, and would be happy to hear from you if you are in the market for products and services.

Bus Finance Australia
Gold partner
SURA Australian Bus and Coach
Gold partner
Distinctive Systems
Silver partner
Hino logo
Bronze partner
McConnell Seats
Bronze partner
Mercedez Benz
Bronze partner
StyleRide Seats
Bronze partner
TransportMe logo
Bronze partner

The Government’s industrial relations agenda – where are they headed?

The Government is moving rapidly to implement its Secure Australian Jobs Plan policy along with a small number of other changes to workplace relations legislation, such as implementing paid domestic violence leave.

To get you up to speed with where they intend to go with IR, following is information on the policies they took to the recent Federal election.

Supplied by Ian Macdonald (APTIA).

Making job security an object of the Fair Work Act

Labor will enshrine secure work as an objective of the Fair Work Act. This means the Fair Work Commission will have to put job security at the heart of its decision-making. The Fair Work Act currently requires the Commission to consider things like productivity and economic growth; the importance of work and family balance; and fairness at work; all very important considerations.

Adding job security strengthens our laws and ensures our main workplace legislation is relevant and fit for purpose.

When the Fair Work legislation was originally drafted over a decade ago it could not foresee the emergence or growth of new forms of insecure work, like gig work. Including job security as an object of the Fair Work Act ensures the Fair Work Commission must consider job security in all of its decision-making.

A better deal for gig workers

Labor will extend the powers of the Fair Work Commission to include “employee-like” forms of work, allowing it to better protect people in new forms of work from exploitation and dangerous working conditions.

This change will allow the Fair Work Commission to make orders for minimum standards for new forms of work, such as gig work. This will ensure a greater number of Australian workers have access to entitlements and protections currently denied to them by the existing laws.

Labor would ensure the Fair Work Commission has the capacity and flexibility to include employee-like forms of work: that is, intervene or inquire into all forms of work and determine what rights and obligations may or may not apply.

It will give the Fair Work Commission enough flexibility to keep up with evolving and changing forms of work.

Standing up for casual workers

Labor will legislate a fair, objective test to determine when a worker can be classified as casual, so people have clearer pathway to permanent work. The meaning of casual employment has evolved and been upheld many times through common law. It has been

characterised as the “absence of a firm advance commitment as to the duration of the employee’s employment or the days or hours the employees will work”.

The Morrison Government has ignored this and its recent changes to the Fair Work Act give employers the right to define someone as a casual, even if they work regular, predictable hours. This gives a green light to casualisation and makes the problem of insecure work worse.

Labor will amend this definition to restore the common law definition.

Same job, same pay

A Labor government will uphold the principle that if you work the same job, you should get the same pay. Labor will ensure that workers employed through labour hire companies receive no less than workers employed directly.

We have seen too many examples of companies across a variety of industries deliberately using labour hire to undercut the negotiated pay and conditions of workers who are employed directly.

For example, coal mine workers employed through labour hire being given full time 12-month rosters fixed in advance but employed as casuals on a fixed, all-inclusive hourly rate. They work side by side with directly employed permanent full-time workers, doing the same work for the same hours, on the same roster with the same skills – but being paid around 30-40 percent less.

As casuals doing the same work with the same qualifications, they should have been paid more – the same hourly rate plus the 25 percent casual loading. Labor will ensure that workers employed through labour hire or other employment arrangements such as outsourcing will not receive less pay than workers employed directly.

Making wage theft a crime

An Albanese Labor Government will legislate to make wage theft a criminal offence.

Labor has always stood for the protection of wages and conditions of workers in Australia and against their exploitation. This includes wage theft which, since the exposure of the shameful practices of the 7-Eleven franchise nearly seven years ago, is being uncovered with such regularity and scale that it appears to have reached epidemic proportions.

Wage theft appears across a broad range of industries and disproportionately impacts young people, overseas students, migrant workers, and women.

A 2019 PwC report found that the underpayment of Australian workers’ entitlements was estimated at $1.35 billion per year.

Labor will consult with unions, States and Territories, and employer groups. Labor’s federal wage theft laws will not override existing State and Territory laws where they currently operate.

A right to your super

An Albanese Labor Government will legislate to include a right to superannuation within the National Employment Standards (NES), which will give Australian workers the power to pursue their unpaid superannuation as a workplace entitlement.

Individual employees currently don’t have legal standing to pursue underpayment of superannuation unless it’s specifically included in their employment contract or individual contract in particular terms. This means they need to rely on the ATO because of the way the superannuation guarantee charge works.

Including superannuation as an entitlement in the NES was a recommendation of the March 2022 Report from the Senate inquiry into unlawful underpayment of employees’ remuneration.

This change will enable the Fair Work Ombudsman and other parties to pursue claims when workers have not received their full superannuation contributions and will improve the future financial security of workers – women in particular.

Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts

Labor will limit the number of consecutive fixed-term contracts an employer can offer for the same role, with an overall cap of 24 months.

Fixed term contracts have a legitimate purpose. They allow employers to bring in staff to add skills and expertise required for a specific time period or project, or to manage an expected but temporary surge in work.

But back-to-back, fixed term contracts have become another form of insecure work. For employees on these contracts, the lack of permanency and security makes it harder for them to plan for their future, including securing a bank loan or mortgage.

Labor will amend the Fair Work Act to limit fixed term contracts for the same role to two consecutive contracts or a maximum duration, including renewals, of two years. There will be a mechanism for exceptions in limited circumstances.

Secure Australian Jobs Code

Labor will introduce a Secure Australian Jobs Code to ensure that taxpayers’ money being spent through government contracts is being used to support secure employment for Australian workers. This Code will establish guidelines with respect to:

  • The fair treatment of workers, including job security
  • Fair and reasonable wages and conditions
  • Ethical and sustainable practices such as ensuring environmentally sustainable outcomes
  • Compliance with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012
  • The consideration of local industry workforce capability and capacity, particularly in regional Australia.

Ensuring that government is a model employer

A Labor Government would be a model employer and only utilise non-permanent employment where it is essential, and not as a way of simply minimising its permanent workforce numbers.

The Federal government employs nearly a quarter of a million people and can play a significant role in raising the standards around employment, but over the last eight years under the Liberals and Nationals has itself been a perpetrator when it comes to insecure work.

Labour hire, outsourcing and back-to-back fixed term contracts have become an all too familiar feature of the public sector.

Consultation on portable entitlement schemes for Australians in insecure work

Labor will consult with state and territory governments, unions, and industry to develop, where it is practical, portable entitlement schemes for Australians in insecure work.

Variants of portable entitlement schemes have existed in different industries, such as construction, mining, and cleaning, for many years. Around the country, state and territory Labor and Liberal/National governments have introduced and administered these schemes.

Portable long service leave schemes for example, allow workers who move from project to project or job to job within a single industry to accumulate an entitlement to long service leave that would be denied to them because of the nature of their work.

Providing for portability of entitlements for workers in different industries and parts of the economy that are newer or emerging would also help ensure these workers have the same access to entitlements as workers in more stable or traditional industries. We will explore options through consultation with stakeholders to assess what and where it is practical.

A better deal for women

Women are disproportionately impacted by insecure work. Nearly as many women as men work in Australia, but women are over-represented in casual and part-time work. Women are also over-represented in low-paid jobs which includes critical frontline work such as aged care.

An Albanese Labor Government will strengthen the ability and capacity of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female dominated industries.

Labor will fully implement all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work Report and legislate the right to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave as a national employment standard.

An Albanese Labor Government will also lead a national push to close the gender pay gap by legislating so companies with more than 250 employees will have to report their gender pay gap publicly, prohibit pay secrecy clauses and give employees the right to disclose their pay if they want to, and take action to address the gender pay gap in the Australian Public Service.

Sexual harassment in the workplace

The Albanese Government has the opportunity to take “bold and decisive action” to make workplaces safe and harassment-free, according to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC.

In opening remarks to a Respect@Work Council forum in Sydney, Dreyfus reiterated the Government’s commitment to imposing a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, via an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins recommended the reform in her Respect@Work report, but the former Morrison Coalition Government failed to legislate it, despite significant pressure from campaigners.

Dreyfus said the Government will also follow the Jenkins recommendations to amend the Fair Work Act to:

  • explicitly prohibit sexual harassment.
  • enable unions or other organisations to bring sex discrimination legal action on behalf of complainants; and
  • establish cost protections for complainants.

He did not provide further details of the timing of the legislation but said the changes will improve workplace protections against sexual harassment and improve access to justice for those who experience unlawful sex discrimination.

The Government has also pledged to invest more than $35 million over four years towards Respect@Work implementation, including $24 million to “properly fund” working women’s centres across Australia.