Executive Officer’s Report
We are getting closer and closer to the launch of the Bus SAfe program for regional school kids in Reception to Year 3.
The presentation materials are all completed, we’re waiting for final approval on brochures and posters before going to print, and I’m hoping to run a couple of trials in schools in the next few weeks.
We have two fantastic presenters, one in Robe and one in Balaklava – and there’s me, so with a bit of travel the three of us can cover most of the State. If you know anyone who would make a good presenter and who wants to earn a bit of extra cash, I am still taking recommendations. Many thanks to Ian MacDonald at the BIC who is assisting us to define the scope of employment draw up contracts.
We will be looking to do 300 sessions over three years, and once we are informed how geographic regions are to be prioritised we will be able to start forward planning. Part of that will involve contacting you to seek your participation at schools in your area.
For your information, here is a link to the draft briefing brochure introducing schools to Bus SAfe. There may be a few changes to the final version, but the essence will remain the same and it gives you a great overview of the program. When it comes time to plan sessions with schools, this brochure will be the ‘first point of contact’ – sent out by the Department for Education. After that, Bus SA will contact the schools and the session planning phase will commence.
To discuss, contact me (Andrea Overall) at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone (08) 826901077.
LDTC committee meeting
On 30 September I sat in on the online LDTC committee meeting, chaired by the BIC, which was very broadly attended. The main points to come out of the meeting were:
- Agreement that there is no point asking government for assistance or handouts anymore, none will be forthcoming and it’s a waste of time.
- There need to be changes – modernisation – within LDTC industry offerings in order to bring in more customers/refresh perceptions of ‘coach travel’ versus bus travel’.
- A desire to band together collectively and try to come up with a set of messages to promote the industry – some kind of initiative/campaign.
- A reboot of the LDTC committee in order to work on the above.
Bus SA input was that some key messages around the green credentials of the LDTC industry (versus the airline industry) should be defined. Coming out of COVID and lockdowns, LDTC can position itself as everything mass travel isn’t – small batch, personalised, local, green, sustainable, Australian dollars going to Australian towns and businesses, etc. All of this is very ‘in’ and desirable to many travellers at the moment.
Will keep you updated when I hear more.
It’s been a while since we’ve done membership stickers, in fact we haven’t done them since I have been with Bus SA and that’s 2 years. Given Bus SA is about to have a profile boost via the Bus SAfe program, and ahead of the 2022 State election, we have decided to reintroduce them.
By displaying Bus SA membership stickers, you demonstrate your ongoing commitment to safe, efficient and sustainable bus services in our State.
The Bus SAfe stickers, which you will also be receiving, are a great way to show your support and involvement in the positive work we are embarking upon in the community, in cooperation with the Department for Education.
I’m hoping they’ll be hitting your post box in about a month.
Mandatory vaccinations in Victoria
Ian MacDonald at APATIA advises us that the Victorian Government has made a number of significant health orders in recent weeks, which require employees to be double vaxed, before they can work in selected industries. (And the NT has introduced even more aggressive health orders regarding compulsory mandating.)
PUBLIC TRANSPORT IS A SELECTED INDUSTRY
The orders require employees to provide evidence of their vaccination status by this Friday, 15 October. Below you can download a document provided by ACCI which is a summary of the current orders and how they apply in Victoria.
Bus SA is monitoring the situation here in South Australia and will keep you updated.
In summary the orders in Victoria, require:
- A first vaccination dose deadline by 22 October 2021.
- An employer, however, cannot allow a worker into the workplace from 15 October 2021, if they do not provide proof of at least a first dose or confirm a booking for the first dose by 22 October 2021.
- An employer cannot allow a worker into the workforce from 26 November 2021 unless they have provided proof of two doses of a vaccine.
- There are some exceptions.
- The workers direction applies to employers of specific types and includes transport workers.
Download the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) document setting out the Victorian obligations. We recommend you read this, in anticipation of similar mandating here in SA.
APTIA industry news – What you need to know
Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining
Wage rises in private sector enterprise agreements as identified by the Attorney General’s department in September 2021 remain marooned at 2.6%, while public sector increases have dropped back to recent trends, according to new Attorney General’s Department data that appears to confirm that the pandemic has accelerated the long-running decline in bargaining. The department’s latest Trends in Federal Enterprise Bargaining Report for the June quarter shows that increases in private sector deals remained at 2.6% for the third successive quarter.
The 1038 private sector deals paid the 2.6% rise over an average 2.8-year term to 72,800 employees.
The department cited three major private sector deals in the quarter: the Epworth Healthcare Nurses and Midwives Enterprise Agreement 2020-2024, which paid an increase of 2.4% a year to 3,963 employees, the Ramsay Health Care WA – Enrolled Nurses & Support Services Union Collective Agreement 2020 (2%, 1,741 employees) and the Virgin Australia Cabin Crew Agreement 2021 (1.8%, 1,655 employees).
In the public sector, the 28 deals approved in the September quarter paid 2.1% increases over an average term of 1.4 years to 27,300 employees.
The department identified three large public sector deals: the Allied Health Professionals (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2020-2021 (which paid 2.5%b a year to 13,301 employees), the [WA] Water Corporation Enterprise Agreement 2021 (1.3%, 3,442 employees) and the Western Power and Australian Services Union Enterprise Agreement 2021 (0.8%, 2,073 employees).
Across the economy, bargained pay rises increased by 2.4%, not far off the historic low of 2.2% in the December quarter. Union agreements and non-union agreements level-pegged, providing increases of 2.4%.
Centre for Future Work director Jim Stanford said in a tweet that the overall increase had been “dragged down by ultra-low wage settlements in the public sector”, while “wage caps and freezes” in the public sector at state and federal levels “are reinforcing wage stagnation across the economy”.
The data indicates that deals approved in the past financial year covered less than half the employees in agreements endorsed by the Commission a decade ago, while the number of agreements has also been reduced beyond 50%.
It shows that in the 2020-21 financial year, the FWC approved 3509 agreements, covering 451,500 employees, based on “snapshots” every five years by Workplace Express.
In the equivalent period five years earlier, it endorsed 4797 deals covering 685,400 workers.
In the 2010-11 financial year, the tribunal approved 7259 agreements covering 937,900 employees and in the 2005-06 financial year 8832 deals covering 881,800 employees.
Respect at work
The Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 received royal assent on 10 September 2021. The Act provide a definition of ‘harassment on the grounds of sex’ and opened to door the application to the Fair Work Commission for order to prohibit, prevent or stop sexual harassment in the workplace.
The legislation was the Government’s response to the 900-page report provided by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Right Commission.
The legislation also added sexual harassment as a basis in the regulations for an employer to consider termination of employment for ‘serious misconduct’.
The Act allowed a period of 2 months at the request of the Fair Work Commission to enable the FWC to consider the format of their approach to sexual harassment orders. The FWC established a Respect at Work Council as part of a consultation process to deal with the issues.
APTIA’s Workplace Equality Advisory Group has been involved in the process and has provided input to the following topics.
- Fair Work Commission processes regarding stop sexual harassment orders
- Best practice principles for the use of NDAs in workplace sexual harassment matters
- Media reporting of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Some of the Advisory Group’s responses are set out below.
Powers of prevention
- Consideration needs to be given to the practicalities of stopping interaction between employees, which might have a disruptive impact on the operation of the business.
- If a contested stand down applies is the employee entitled to full pay during the period of the stand down?
- If there is a contravention of a step-down orders does this give rise to the ability of an employer to take disciplinary action that could lead to termination of employment?
- There is a real need for the FWC in making such a stop harassment order to consider disruptions to the workplace and the practicalities of obtaining compelling evidence from employers.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
- Consideration needs to be given to the reasons for such NDAs, especially whether they are likely to be adhered to in any event.
- NDAs are however a normal way to do IR business these days and a template would be an appropriate way to deal with it.
- In any form of media reporting, it is critical that the identities of the parties are protected at least until a determination is made.
- Prevention is the best cure to the issues of harassment and promoting the consequences of an action might not have the desired impact upon businesses.
BIC View from Canberra
Intelligent and mature thinking from government
The bus and coach industry relies on good infrastructure. The federal government, through its establishment of Infrastructure Australia (IA) in 2008, opened up the opportunity for state and territory governments to obtain federal government funding to make PT infrastructure projects a reality.
The establishment of IA has proven to be a good strategic avenue for the BIC to pedal our research and policy work. Since 2010 the BIC has deliberately campaigned a ‘moving people’ message that embodies outcomes such as: planning for and creating ‘liveable’ cities and regions; providing adequate transport options for all (socially disadvantaged and people with disabilities); and reform of road pricing (charges to better reflect the real costs associated with road travel and allocation of revenue for improved PT services).
All of this industry work has proven to be a good strategic fit with IA.
On 3 September, IA released its 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan to achieve its 2036 vision. A vision that would seek infrastructure that “improves the sustainability of [Australia’s] economic, social, environmental and governance settings, builds quality of life for all Australians, and is resilient to shocks and emerging stresses”.
Ambitious? Realistic? – maybe and maybe not. Who could have predicted the current social and economic landscape? Who could have forecasted our ‘pandemic infrastructure’ needs looking through the lens of the last IA Plan in 2016? – a plan that aimed to “recapture the reform spirit of the 1980s and 1990s and initiate a new wave of policy and legislative reforms”.
The foundation of the 2021 Plan is based on building a sense of ‘place’, sustainability/resilience and industry/innovation. The plan identifies a number of key reform areas which have the capacity to deliver positive outcomes for the broader bus and coach industry across operations, manufacturing and technology sectors. Integrated transport networks reform, regional and rural connectivity, industry productivity and affordable transition to a net zero future feature strongly in Australia’s infrastructure needs for the next 15 years. Admittedly, the Plan will need to be periodically ‘retested’ based on speed of recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, adoption of technological change, settlement patterns (particularly post covid) and the emerging role of a regionalised Australia and adaptation of cities.
The Plan has picked up on many transport reform areas of BIC’s advocacy program. Reforms such as:
- a single vision between planning, funding and delivery agencies;
- integration of transport and land use activities; and
- consistent performance standards across all regions (after all – why should we expect IA to recommend the allocation of funds to a network not delivering on more liveable cities and towns or not reducing pollution and congestion).
The BIC highly commends IA on its support for regional and remote connectivity that calls for coordinated passenger transport resources to deliver access benefits for all users – this includes connectivity to fast-growing cities and equitable same-day access to essential services under nationally consistent performance standards. IA also calls for a better use of assets and investment in faster and higher capacity transport networks. Any multi-modal upgrades should also support local movement networks, ie. local government with first and last mile services (which would also include micro-mobility).
The average Australian punter can be left in no doubt that a new era of personal travel is in a significant phase of evolution. More and more people want to live (and work) in affordable spaces with fast and affordable accessibility. Human powered transport has boomed as a result of a clear mode-shift away from driving cars.
We cannot possibly cover all of the highlights of the Plan in this column. The BIC however will conclude with a general comment. We have been a long-time supporter of IA as an organisation that could limit the ‘pork barrel’ and extend the planning timelines for Australian governments, of all types, to go beyond the electoral cycle. Infrastructure decisions should be based on the long-term strategic needs of our cities and regions and not on a short term, in the heat of the moment need to get re-elected political campaigns, or to prop up a marginal electorate.
In our view, IA continues to meet its mandate to advise governments, industry and the community on the investments and reforms needed to deliver better infrastructure for all Australians. The BIC will formally provide feedback to IA and the federal government in the coming weeks and readers can expect to see future columns discussing the 2021 Plan and the ‘good stuff for bus’.
One last note. The BIC has decided to postpone our planned National Moving People 2021 conference to next year. Mark the diaries – 13 to 16 November 2022 in Brisbane.
The BIC secretariat is committed to the moving people vision that enhances the sustainability and liveability of Australia’s cities and regions by using bus and coach transportation. Readers can connect with us on (02) 6247 5990 or by email to email@example.com.
NSW $3 billion hydrogen strategy to boost Australian hydrogen industry
NSW is set to attract more than $80 billion of investment, drive deep decarbonisation and establish itself as an energy and economic superpower with the launch of the NSW Hydrogen Strategy.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says as NSW worked through post-lockdown recovery, hydrogen was an opportunity to drive new investment and help secure jobs right across the state.
“Australia has an opportunity to be an energy superpower; New South Wales will lead the country with this hydrogen strategy,” Premier Perrottet said.
“Our major trading partners see hydrogen as part of their energy future; this state has the skills, infrastructure and renewable energy resources to compete globally in this new industry.” Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole says hydrogen was a huge opportunity for regional NSW.
“We know that regional economies are diversifying, and the NSW government’s Hydrogen Strategy is bringing that to life,” Mr Toole said.
“Places like Parkes, the Illawarra, and the Upper Hunter are uniquely placed to take advantage of these opportunities, with existing supply lines, access to transport links and a skilled workforce ready to make regional NSW a leader in hydrogen technology.”
Global hydrogen leader
Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean says the strategy, which will provide up to $3 billion in incentives, will set the State up as a global hydrogen leader and is forecast to increase the size of the NSW economy by more than $600 million by 2030.
“Hydrogen will not only help the State halve our emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050, it will create new opportunities for our heavy industry, and an economic bonanza of investment and jobs,” Minister Kean said.
“This strategy is forecast to more than halve the cost of green hydrogen production in NSW and will make NSW the best place to invest in hydrogen in the world,” he added.
Fortescue Future Industries chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest AO said: “I am delighted with NSW’s historic hydrogen strategy and ambition to set itself up as an energy and economic superpower.
“NSW is taking a state leadership position providing clear pathways for how renewable hydrogen can deliver for Australian businesses, Australian jobs, communities and our children’s future.
“At FFI we are doing everything we can as a business to lead the world effort to lower emissions. We are planning to deliver 15 million tonnes of renewable green hydrogen to the world by 2030 – increasing to 50 million tonnes per year thereafter.
“We are committed to working with the NSW Government to support their ambitions and develop Green Hydrogen Hubs together.”
In addition to delivering an already committed $70 million to develop the State’s hydrogen hubs in the Illawarra and the Hunter, the strategy includes:
- Exemptions for green hydrogen production from government charges;
- A 90 per cent exemption from electricity network charges for green hydrogen producers that connect to parts of the network with spare capacity;
- Incentives for green hydrogen production; and
- A hydrogen refuelling station network to be rolled out across the State.
Business will be to submit an expression of interest to participate in the hydrogen hubs by the end of October.
Thumbs up from the Australian Hydrogen Council
The Australian Hydrogen Council today applauded the New South Wales Government on its Hydrogen Strategy.
“Setting aside $3 billion to support the scale-up of our hydrogen industry is a leap in the right direction, a clear demonstration to us that the New South Wales Government is serious about meeting its net-zero commitments and the role of hydrogen to get there,” said Dr Fiona Simon, CEO of the Australian Hydrogen Council.
“The strategy contains precisely the type of policy commitments, targets and funding that we have called for in our recent white paper Unlocking Australia’s Hydrogen Opportunity, and we are delighted to see the NSW Government taking this next evolutionary step.
“In line with our white paper, the NSW Government has committed to prioritising heavy transport, trucks and refuelling infrastructure; heavy transport is a key sector that needs hydrogen to decarbonise, replacing petrol and diesel with hydrogen.
“Australia has enormous opportunity to lead the world in the production, use and export of hydrogen and the NSW Government has demonstrated the leadership needed to drive the creation of the clean hydrogen industry.
“We are glad the NSW Government has stepped up to the level at which our trading partners are competing.
“Plans and funding like this will mean Australia should not miss the boat on international opportunities and instead, will be well positioned to be a leading producer and user of hydrogen in Australia and globally.
“This kind of strategy will draw through huge amounts of investment needed to secure local jobs of the future, from now.
“An Australian hydrogen industry will require large scale electrolysers, renewable electricity, hydrogen storage, water and water pipelines, electricity infrastructure, CCS as appropriate, and hydrogen pipelines. Planning, with the right funding and targets is a vital part of getting this industry to scale and we look forward to working with the NSW Government to chart the State’s path to net-zero using hydrogen,” Dr Simon concluded.