Member Alert – May 2021

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National Roadworthiness Survey (NHVR)

A reminder that the NHVR are conducting their National Roadworthy Baseline Survey in May through to July.

Authorised officers from the NHVR and partner agencies across Australia will conduct a mechanical inspection of approximately 8000 heavy vehicles – including buses and other special purpose vehicles.

The purpose of the survey is to provide an insight into the mechanical health of the national fleet. According to the website, the survey will allow the NHVR and partner agencies to target their safety programs at key safety areas.
Results will be compared to the National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey conducted in 2016.

Random inspections will occur across Australia. Inspections will occur in all Australian states and territories in regional and metropolitan areas.


The NHVR has established a ‘hotline’ so you can communicate inspection issues with the NHVR during the process. The number is 1800 NHVR (or 1800 6487). Please bear in mind that the NHVR is not in control of the individual inspectors on the road.

News from the BIC

The BIC secretariat has commenced a search of the nation for an Executive Director

The BIC has commenced a national search for a BIC Executive Director to lead the organisation and our team. The new ED will be charged with developing policy and undertaking and commissioning appropriate research projects. The incumbent will also need to lead the strategic, commercial and political advocacy of the BIC.

There is no doubt an effective ED is one who can establish and maintain productive stakeholder relationships with politicians, government officials and relevant agencies, and importantly partnerships with our members and kindred associations.

We will let you know as soon as we have any news.

BIC responds to the NHVRs National Heavy Vehicle Safety Strategy

The BIC provided a response to the Consultation Draft of the Heavy Vehicle Safety Strategy 2021-25 (Strategy).

The Strategy will be supported by an Action Plan, produced annually, which will outline the activities, responsibilities, and timeframes for delivery that the NHVR will undertake over the five-year life of the Strategy.

The Strategy is aligned to the draft National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 (Office of Road Safety) for which the BIC also provided a submission. The 10 year strategy from the Office of Road Safety sets out Australia’s road safety objectives, key priorities for action, and road trauma reduction targets to 2030.

The heavy vehicle safety strategy placed a major focus on:

  • partnerships with stakeholders
  • supporting modern and safer vehicles
  • driver safety
  • creating positive change in behaviours and culture to improve safety.

The BIC’s response to the Strategy provided a number of recommendations to government relating to partnerships, bus safety initiatives, driver health and well-being initiatives. The BIC also outlined a 10-point National Bus Safety Strategy and advocated for the need for a National Bus Specification Guideline with the aim to provide a consistent (minimum) set of safety standards which would assist purchases by bus and coach businesses.

Download the BIC’s submission here.

Disability Standards for Accessible Transport

On 15 February 2021, the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport released its 1st Edition (of 4) Regulation Impact Statements (RIS) outlining the proposed DSAPT changes to 16 (out of an expected 21) reform areas. The 180-page door-stopper contained over 200 questions on proposed regulatory and non-regulatory options on the 16 reform areas. The questions were directed specifically to sector stakeholders including the disability community, public transport operators and access industry professionals.

The BIC provided responses to 100-plus questions in the following reform areas:

  • Staff Training and Communication
  • Mobility Aid Safety
  • Priority Seating
  • Allocated Spaces in Transit
  • Digital Information Screens
  • Website Accessibility
  • Communication during Service Disruption
  • Assistance Animal Toileting Facilities
  • Emergency Egress
  • Fit for Purpose Accessways
  • Wayfinding
  • Tactile Ground Surface Indicators
  • Provision of information in multiple forms.

Download the BIC’s submission here.

The BIC has formed a bus industry steering committee comprised of BIC Councillors to review the DSAPT – RIS. The BIC has also appointed a BIC Councillor to represent the bus industry on the government’s Conveyance Working Group.

The Bus Australia Network is currently in over-drive advocating for the continuing exemption of school buses from the Transport Standards. The BIC and the Bus Australia Network are currently developing a national policy position paper on the treatment of school buses. We will keep you posted on the DSAPT review generally and the exemption of school buses.

APTIA industrial relations – New employment templates for casual employees

The APTIA website has new employment template documents including:

  • draft letter of employment to a school bus casual
  • draft letter of offer of casual conversion
  • draft letter advising that no offer of conversion will be made.

It is important for all employers to acquaint themselves of their new obligations especially with respect to existing small business employers who are required to issue a Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS), as soon as possible and to all new casual employees.

The templates, a copy of the CEIS, and an Updated Employment Information Statement can be found on the APTIA website.

It’s tax time again

Hitting the road running this tax time? Remember to meet all three golden rules when claiming work-related expenses on your tax return!

  1. You must have spent the money yourself and weren’t reimbursed.
  2. The expenses must directly relate to earning your income.
  3. You must have a record to prove it.

As they do every year, the ATO has put out some useful resources to help our industry understand what they can and can’t claim in their tax return.

Important updates from the Fair Work Ombudsman

COVID-19 vaccinations

Get important information on COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace, including around resolving workplace issues.

Visit COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace for information and guidance on common questions about coronavirus vaccinations and the workplace.

It is safe to assume that at present you can not require your employees to be vaccinated, see COVID-19 vaccinations: workplace rights and obligations.

Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reforms

On 26 March 2021, the Fair Work Act was amended to change some workplace rights and obligations for casual employees.

For a detailed summary of what’s changed, see Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reforms.

Changes to unpaid parental leave entitlements

From 27 November 2020, following changes to the Fair Work Act, employees can now access unpaid parental leave for a maximum of 12 months if they experience:
• a stillbirth, or
• the death of an infant during the first 24 months of life.

Read more about these new unpaid leave entitlements at Changes to unpaid parental leave entitlements.

The Custom Denning Element – the all electric and all Aussie-built bus

Built in Australia, able to cover 500km in high temperatures, and with a smooth, whisper-quiet performance, Custom Denning’s foray into electric buses has made a very strong start.

This is the very first electric bus for Custom Denning and, surprisingly, it has only been in development since January 2020. According to Grant Mascord, Custom Bus Group’s national contracts manager, the Element is suitable for all city bus applications nationwide – it has a very broad appeal. Mascord believes that the new Element being all Australian-made from start to finish – built in Sydney – is a standout achievement.

Great range and battery life

When asked what features Custom Denning are most proud of on the Element, Mascord answers with just two words. “The range.”

“The battery performance has been really awesome,” he said. “If you drove the bus to zero, we estimate 500km daily. For normal use [the range is] probably 350 to 360km [a day].”

Mascord says that the batteries used don’t operate like a standard lithium battery, “you don’t drive it to dead and then recharge it”.

“Our lithium metal polymer (LMP) batteries are optimal between 100 and 30 per cent. So if you leave 30 per cent ‘in the tank’ all the times, they’re perfect. Running them to an average depth of discharge up to 70 per cent gives optimum life. The biggest advantage over standard lithium is that there is no degradation on a hot day – lithium operates up to 45 degrees before peak performance drops and if you consider what temperatures the metal roof of a bus would reach in summer, it certainly wouldn’t take much to get to 45 plus.”

A quiet ride

The Element is quiet too. “We had a test drive with 30 passengers,” said Mascord. “You don’t experience the standard bus noises that can be annoying. The only sound you could hear was the people talking. There’s no engine noise. The quiet is pretty amazing.”

Quick to build

“Being built locally, the build time is an impressive 20 working days for the bus, plus add a bit more for the chassis – so about 30 working days,” said Mascord.

“The biggest lead time is for the batteries and the electrical componentry which can take up to six months. But we have planned ahead and forecast sales, so we can meet the quick timeframe for purchasers.”

A three year warranty

Custom Denning is offering a three-year warranty for everything back-to-back, with the batteries having a 10-year expected lifespan, depending on the operating environment. According to Mascord, the batteries actually have a minimum of 10 years with possibly of up to 15 years.

“We’ve done some modelling on data from operators, based on their current runs, and the figures are really good.

“I think brake servicing and pad wear is going to be a massive change to what we all do now. There are barely any fluid changes for servicing, you are basically going to be checking coolant. There’s a system that cools all the electrical components and the motor, the invertors and some of the controllers. The battery system we use doesn’t require cooling and that’s a weight saving,” he said.

Customisation – a huge range of options

The Element has flexible seating and door options, with the possibility to go from a two- to one-door configuration and gain two extra rows of seats. There’s also the option to go total standees for, say, an airport-type operation.

“Because we do it all we can be flexible,” Mascord said. “This bus is just one in a huge range of possibilities to suit all applications.

“For example, we are looking at options for school buses and in a situation like that we could start needing fewer batteries. That’s huge savings for operators as batteries make up 30 per cent of the cost of the bus,” Mascord said.

Advanced driver assistance for extra safety

The Element also has advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), a driver-assist system that protects against lane departure (LDWS) as well as including collision and pedestrian alerts.

The pedestrian warning system would be invaluable on a school or route bus, especially in busy and built-up areas. The LDWS would be more useful for a driver who has been on the road for any extended period of time, but added safety features are always welcome inclusions.

This article is used with permission by Australian Bus and Coach Magazine. It is an edited version, read the original article here. Photography by Paul Aldridge.

Events coming up

As you probably know, are not running a Bus SA conference in South Australia this year. Instead we are looking into hosting networking dinners with politicians, members, sponsors/partners, etc. It is work in progress, and of course we will let you know as soon as anything concrete is in place.