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FOR DRIVERS... THERE’S ONLY ONE CHOICE We’re not all made the same and neither is a Kenworth. With a huge range of options, a Kenworth can be customised for the driver and the task at hand. Drive something to be proud of; “a truck that’s uniquely yours”.
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“I wanted to keep it fairly close to how the original old school trucks looked.” 8 KAINE TAKES AIM AT UNFAIR CONTRACTS
24 MATESHIP LIGHTS UP THE DAY
18 DAF PRIMES FOR BIG TIME
32 TRUCK OF THE MONTH
THE TWU national secretary fronts the NatRoad conference audience in a rare alliance
In this exclusive report, we reveal the extent of Paccar Australia’s commitment to creating a continental cab-over like no other
The 20th anniversary of the Lights On The Hill Memorial Convoy was a massive tribute to the people who keep Australia’s wheels turning
Land Transport’s blue Western Star 6900 Constellation, known as ‘Sunrise Ruby’, looks the goods in the middle of the ‘paddock’
48 MACK NOT FOR SALE
Gregg Melrose has stuck solid with the very first truck he bought 25 years ago, an ’88 Mack Valueliner that’s still paying its way
52 MUSCLE MEMORY
The recently released GigaSpace cab adds a top-shelf toiler to the Mercedes-Benz stable – more spacious, oozing quality and class, and crammed with hi-tech options
60 4 NOVEMBER 2023
60 DOING THE JOB DAILY
While Japanese manufacturers are taking a big slice of the light cab chassis market, Iveco’s updated Daily range is turning heads
25/10/2023 8:53 am
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EDITORIAL Editor Greg Bush E-mail Greg.Bush@primecreative.com.au Journalist Alex Catalano E-mail Alex.Catalano@primecreative.com.au Technical Editor Steve Brooks E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Warren Aitken, Robert Bell, Frank Black, Warren Clark, Marcus Cosgrove, Simon Gould, Rod Hannifey, Michael Kaine, Brett Patterson, Ken Wilkie Cartoonist John Allison
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ADVERTISING Business Development Manager Hollie Tinker Ph 0466 466 945 E-mail Hollie.Tinker@primecreative.com.au
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Owner Driver is published by Prime Creative Media 379 Docklands Drive, Docklands Melbourne VIC 3008 Telephone: (+61) 03 9690 8766 www.primecreative.com.au ISSN 1321-6279
OwnerDriver magazine is owned by Prime Creative Media. All material in OwnerDriver is copyright and no part may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means (graphic, electronic or mechanical including information and retrieval systems) without written permission of the publisher. The Editor welcomes contributions but reserves the right to accept or reject any material. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information Prime Creative Media will not accept responsibility for errors or omissions or for any consequences arising from reliance on information published. Opinions expressed in OwnerDriver are not necessarily the opinions of, or endorsed by the publisher unless otherwise stated.
BEHIND THE WHEEL Greg Bush
Truck of the year
et your voting fingers ready because OwnerDriver’s Truck of the Year competition is back with a bang, thanks to the generosity of Eiffel Lubricants. Readers will have the opportunity to choose their favourite from the 12 trucks which have each been featured as Truck of the Month during 2023. As in past instances, one lucky voter will take home a very worthwhile prize. This year it’s 30 litres of Eiffel’s fully synthetic engine oil as well as 30 litres of Eiffel mineral gear oil. That’s a handy haul for an owner-driver or small f leet operator, especially with rising prices currently being experienced. It was back in early 2022 when Gavin Sutton’s ’89 Mack Super-Liner was voted the 2021 Truck of the Year. Originally bought as a show truck, the aging Mack scrubbed up so well, it was sent back into the workforce. The most voted-for truck will be announced as the 2023 Truck of the Year, with the winner being presented with a trophy worthy of its achievements. Eiffel Lubricants have been around since 2004, but only arrived in Australia during 2020. An innovative business, Eiffel Lubricants’ products in the diesel engine category have been approved by by Volvo, Mack, Renault, Daimler and MAN. Eiffel manufactures motorcycle lubricants, automotive lubricants, commercial engine oils, gear oils, transmission f luids, industrial lubricants, brake f luids, coolants, marine lubricants, agricultural lubricants and speciality lubricants. However, Eiffel Lubricants also has its eye on the future, aiming for net zero emissions in line with government targets throughout the world. Further details on the Truck of the Year
Gavin Sutton’s working 1989 Mack Super-Liner was the Truck Of The Year award in 2022
competition will appear in OwnerDriver’s December 2023 issue. On a more sombre note for Australian truck owners and drivers, spare a thought for the truckies tasked with delivering much needed medical supplies and food through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. As we go to print, only a small number of the 200 trucks positioned on the Egyptian side of the border have been allowed to pass. In the midst of this, explosions are being heard on the Gaza side of the border. There was talk some years ago in Australia about truck drivers seeking “danger money”. However, this is an extremely hazardous journey in anyone’s books. The further the trucks venture into the Gaza strip, the more chance of being hit by a stray missile, bullets or any other form of weaponry. In that part of the world, truck driving is more hazardous than most of us could envisage. Just ask the truck drivers going about their business in war-torn Ukraine.
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25/10/2023 8:55 am
NEWS FROM THE HIGHWAY AND BEYOND
Kaine takes aim at unfair contracts TWU national secretary fronts NatRoad audience in sign of rare alliance to counter negative ideology at the top of road transport In a show of industry solidarity with NatRoad, Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Michael Kaine has warned of negative ideology within what he says is a “broken” road transport industry. Kaine was a guest speaker at the 2023 NatRoad conference, held on the Gold Coast in late September. He pointed out the challenges ahead for transport reform, in particular forcibly removing unfair contracts under the tabled Senate Bill, which has been delayed until February next year. “What’s really important about this bill for the transport industry is that it, for the first time moves with really widespread industry support. But it is a bit of a process,” Kaine says. “I mean the new Labor Government, whatever people’s political views are, has made good on this promise and that it said it was going to make changes – and it’s made changes. “This trend in workplace changes is critical. It’s critical to this industry and it promises to deliver change that can make a real difference to businesses in a positive way.” Kaine praised the industry for joining forces on reform from “genuine industry voices”, not only NatRoad but also groups such as the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation. However, he says the path to getting the legislation through has a few obstacles ahead. “I think we have come a long way in overcoming that challenge. The
next biggest challenge is to make sure that we bring that unity to bear against those disingenuous voices which will be arguing against this legislative change, and those disingenuous voices come from across the spectrum of politics,” Kaine says. “But the voices are based on ideology. We can’t afford ideology and I hope that that is clear. “From the work that’s gone on between the TWU and NatRoad in the last little while, and the fact that I’m here today, that ideology is to one side because the practical reality about the changes we made are much more important.” However, Kaine says those who purport to represent the industry continue to speak out against the new legislation. “They’ll be running lines about the freedom of contracts, they’ll be running lines about interfering with competition. “Damn right we need to interfere with competition in road transport. The industry’s broken. People have had contracts imposed upon them with little or no bargaining power. “That goes for transport operators, owner-operators, even large transport operators.” Kaine says those who would be expected to be opposed to any new legislation are crossing the floor. “The gig companies who are right now moving into the heart of transport are major disruptors that undercut our market. We need this legislation to hold them to account.
“But in a breathtaking turn of events they are actually supporting regulation. They can see that it’s only a blink before some other disrupter comes in and undercuts them, and they can also see that from a community standpoint their reputation is starting to be tarnished. “They want sustainability in the industry as much as anyone else. “So we’ve got this moment of time to be able to bring all these interests together, and the most effective thing is that all genuinely industry voices are on very much the same page.” Kaine says the delay in passing the new legislation could benefit the transport industry. “All legislation that goes through our parliament goes to a committee inquiry. It’s the normal state of affairs, the ordinary process. “So regardless of how this ends up, it was always going to be the case where it’s tabled in the lower house. The Labor Party has the numbers in the lower house so it will pass the lower house and moves to the Senate. And then it goes to a Senate Inquiry before the Senate deliberates and votes.” Kaine says an unexpected moment occurred recently when Senator Lambie and Senator Pocock voted together which succeeded because Senator Lidia Thorpe was absent from the chamber on the day. He says the effect of the vote was that rather than the Senate reporting in November, it will now be reporting
Above: Michael Kaine addresses the audience at this year’s NatRoad conference
in February. “The fact of the matter is that November to February falls across Christmas and what’s become increasingly apparent as the days have passed is that senators don’t really want to be working over the Christmas period. “So in fact, all of the Senate committee hearings are going to be held before the end of November. So there’ll be a final report, that will be sitting there before the end of November, ready for the Senate to think about in the final two hearing weeks of the year,” Kaine says. “Of course that means that there will be some pressure on the Senate to consider the bill in less than two weeks, and perhaps even pass the bill before the end, despite the February date.” – Greg Bush
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25/10/2023 8:57 am
THE GOODS NEWS FROM THE HIGHWAY AND BEYOND
Praise for driver at accident scene Steven Young, a driver for Contract Haulage, receives the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award for life-saving action A quick response from Contract Haulage driver Steven Young has saved a fellow truck driver’s life, earning him the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian accolade. Young was travelling between Melbourne and Adelaide when he came across a fatal head-on collision involving a car that had veered onto the wrong side of the road and collided with a fully loaded B-double. The collision caused the trailers to roll over and the prime mover to erupt into flames. Young quickly assessed the situation, coming to the aid of his fellow truckie by pulling him from the burning cab and into the safety of another vehicle until emergency services arrived. Not only did Young save the truck driver’s life, but he also contacted their employer the following day to check in on their wellbeing following the crash. Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand managing director,
Above: Steven Young (right) receives his Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award from Matt Crynes, Bridgestone’s technical field services manager for Victoria and Tasmania
Heath Barclay, says Young’s story highlights the camaraderie within the industry. “We’re proud to recognise Steven Young with the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award. His selfless actions, not just on the night, but following the crash
demonstrates that the title is beyond fitting,” Barclay says. “Mr Young prevented a terrible crash becoming worse and showed incredible kindness and care for his fellow truck driver. This is precisely what the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian embodies.”
Australian Trucking Association chair David Smith says it’s incidents like these that see the industry’s best shine, as well as highlighting the importance of road safety. “I want to congratulate Steven Young on being named a Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian. Your actions that night and in the follow up were selfless. We’re delighted to present you with this accolade,” Smith says. “It’s crashes like this that put a spotlight on the dangers our truck drivers are exposed to on a day-to-day basis, and highlights the need for motorists to be aware of their surroundings at all times on the road. “We are privileged to have heroes like Steven Young in our industry, because he shows genuine kindness for his peers and places importance on what matters most.” The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian accolade is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Australian Trucking Association.
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THE GOODS NEWS FROM THE HIGHWAY AND BEYOND
Canberra driver cements NatRoad award Carol Single, Stephanie Arpasi, Shane Pendergast and Dennis Harding were the four big award winners at the 2023 NatRoad conference Dennis Harding of JSC Concrete Canberra has been named the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) Professional Driver of the Year. The award was presented during the gala dinner on September 29 as part of NatRoad’s 2023 annual conference held at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on Queensland’s Gold Coast. As NatRoad states, the award recognises a truck driver whose demonstrated skills, safety record, professional approach and overall performance reflects positively on them as an employee of the company and of the road transport industry as a whole. A long-standing employee, NatRoad says Harding was nominated for his devotion to safety, integrity and performance on the job. “Dennis is a company man who puts in long hours despite juggling commitments with a young family,” says NatRoad chair Paul Fellows.
Although Harding was not present at the conference to accept the award, he received plenty of plaudits from the presenters. “Dennis has worked in the heavy vehicle industry for many years and is a role model for heavy vehicle drivers. His dedication to safety, integrity and performance ensures that everyone he shares the road with can get home safety,” Fellows says. “Dennis is receiving this award for his professionalism, dedication, hard work which has not gone unnoticed and is very much appreciated.” The NatRoad Youth Employee of the Year award was presented to Stephanie Arpasi of Dubbo-based Fardell’s Heavy Haulage. The award recognises a young employee, 30 years and under, working in any part of the road transport industry, whose positive approach, enthusiasm towards their job and demonstrated leadership attention puts
Above: NatRoad 2023 Professsional Driver of the Year award winner Dennis Harding
positivity on them, their employer and the road transport industry as a whole. Arpasi, 22, is said to have made a huge impact on colleagues in a short period of time. “Stephanie is a young driver doing a challenging job but will not let anything stand in her way to get the job done safely. She is willing to share her knowledge and help others, and is always keen to learn,” Fellows says on handing Arpasi her award. “She has made an impact on those she works with and working hard to inspire more women to get into the truck industry.” Shane Pendergast, of Air Brake Systems in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby, was named winner of the NatRoad Excellence in Operational Support Award for his years of making trucking a safer industry. Hundreds of truck drivers and many more mechanics have attended workshops conducted over the past seven years by Pendergast, who is a specialist in electronic braking systems. NatRoad says, as NSW service manager for Air Brake Systems, Pendergast has an industry-wide reputation for professionalism and a passion for making sure customers have fully functioning and fault-free braking systems. NatRoad’s top honour – the Ted Pickering Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Road Transport Industry – was presented to Carol Single, co-owner of Single
Transport Services based in Mackay, north Queensland. The award was named after one of the founders of the National Transport Federation and industry icon Ted Pickering, whose son Daryl Pickering presented the award to Single. “Carol and husband Ian Single’s transport business has been a fixture in Mackay since 1980,” NatRoad says. “In 1997, Single Transport Services was accredited with TruckSafe, the national business and risk management system that improves the safety and professionalism of trucking operators nationwide.” Single, a life member of the volunteer non-profit Mackay Road Accident Action group, remains committed to tackling road safety issues in Mackay and the Bowen Basin. “Carol represents the best that our industry has to offer – someone who is deeply involved in their own business but who finds time to be a champion for safer roads,” Fellows says. “Road freight arteries like the Peak Downs Highway are the lifeblood to the Mackay Region and the Bowen Basin, with thousands of vehicles using it daily. “Much of Carol’s work is behind the scenes but she has made a life-saving difference for her peers – and indeed all road-users – on those long stretches of the North Queensland highway.” Carol Single is a previous recipient of the National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year award.
From left: National Transport Insurance’s Bert Webster, Stephanie Arpasi and NatRoad CEO Warren Clark
12 NOVEMBER 2023
25/10/2023 9:02 am
Isuzu Service Agreements really help take a load off. The last thing anyone needs is an unexpected bill landing on their desk. But with an Isuzu Service Agreement, you can choose from three packages to fit your needs and flatten your servicing costs into a single, predictable, monthly payment. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you’re helping to meet your chain of responsibility requirements. And that all means a big load off your mind. To find out more, visit isuzu.com.au or see your nearest Isuzu Truck Dealer. Care. It’s what we do.
25/10/2023 9:02 am
THE GOODS NEWS FROM THE HIGHWAY AND BEYOND
High Court knocks out Victoria’s EV tax Light commercial transport operators to benefit following ruling that the state’s Zero and Low Emission Vehicle tax was illegal The High Court ruled against Victorian’s Zero and Low Emission Vehicle (ZLEV) tax on September 18 after two electric car owners brought the case before court. The state government’s two cents per kilometre tax on is no more, after the majority ruled that the tax was illegal. The ruling stated that it was a levy unable to be imposed by the states as it fell under the definition of an excise, which only the Federal Government can impose. The ruling will apply to all electric light commericlal vehicles, including light trucks and vans, leaving transport workers free of usage taxes, as well as cars. Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari welcomes the ruling, with less taxes for electric vehicles operators in Victoria. “There is nothing inherently wrong with road user charges, but they should never be calibrated to discourage the take up of electric
vehicles,” Jafari says. “The electric vehicle industry warned the Victorian government this policy was muddleheaded years ago, and the offer has always been on the table to work with the state on a more sensible approach. “Any road user charge scheme should be national and we now look forward to working with the Federal Government on sensible road funding reform, without singling out drivers who are trying to do the right thing. “Any scheme should apply to all vehicles and should take into consideration the economic cost of emissions. “Australia’s priority should be on boosting the transition to EVs and decarbonising our transport system. There is no need for Australia to be dependent on imported oil today.” The case was initially brought before the courts by two electric car owners, Christopher Vanderstock and Kathleen
Davies, and their lawyers. Victoria’s representation argued that the EV charges were a tax on activity, but this was ultimately thrown out. Davies says he was thrilled by the judgment. “Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world on electric vehicle uptake. Now is not the time to be taxing electric vehicles – it’s the time to be doing everything we can to encourage people to make the switch to cleaner cars. “The Victorian government has been moving in the wrong direction – it went out alone in taxing electric vehicles, and recently it scrapped its electric vehicle subsidy. “We hope that today’s decision paves
the way for the Federal Government to make coherent national policy which accelerates the transition to electric vehicles.” Separately, the Victorian Ombudsman had slammed the state government’s administration of the charge. The Ombudsman’s report found that one driver of a plug-in electric hybrid reported travelling thousands of kilometres in remote parts of Australia using fuel as there were no charging stations. Despite the driver paying fuel excise on those kilometres, the Department of Transport and Planning did not waive the additional hundreds of dollars payable under the ZLEV charge.
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25/10/2023 9:05 am
Kenworth sales nudge past Volvo
A big sales month in September sees Kenworth take top spot on the table from Volvo in the heavy-duty segment
As the clocked ticked over to October 1 the analysis began in earnest on the third quarter results for truck sales in the Australian market. The team at the Truck Industry Council (TIC), owner and compiler of the T-Mark truck market sales database, ran the ruler over the volumes sold per brand, across four commercial vehicle categories, and determined that while there has been a slowdown compared to previous quarters in 2023, the full year trend is still heading towards the best sales result ever. Including heavy-duty, medium-duty, light-duty and commercial vans, 35,452 new vehicles had been sold so far in 2023 to September 30. TIC CEO Tony McMullan summed up the findings as follows: “It was a solid quarter for the heavy and medium truck segments, while sales in the light duty truck and van segments have slowed
noticeably in quarter three. “At the end of the third quarter 2023, total heavy vehicle sales are up over the same point in 2022, but not to the same degree as we saw at the end of June this year,” McMullan says. “I believe that the end of the instant asset write-off tax incentive in June 2023 and interest rate rises are now starting to negatively impact new truck sales. “However, with just three months to go until year end, the industry is still on track to hit a new market peak, though this is mainly due to the stellar sales seen from January to June this year,” McMullan says. In the heavy duty segment Kenworth (2,564) and Volvo (2,538) accounted for more than 40 per cent of the sales. Isuzu (1,734), Scania (953), Mack (779), UD Trucks (737) Mercedes-Benz (719), DAF (620), Fuso (557) and Hino (551) rounded out the top 10. In terms of brand performance
in the medium duty segment, Isuzu remained the dominant force with 49.9 per cent of the sales so far this year (2,933 vehicles). Hino (1,565), Fuso (975), Iveco (77) and Hyundai (69) round out
the top five. Isuzu continued to dominate in the light duty market with 5,684 vehicles sold, followed by Hino (2,255), Fuso (2,215), Iveco (838), and Fiat (562).
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L330 X W173 X H240 mm, 900CCA, 160RC, 100AH Suits heavy duty trucks, including Kenworth
ALUMINIUM WHEELS MEMBERS FROM
8-22-285B3 $324 $349 22.5” X 8.25”, 285 X 10 PCD, buff finish MW-8THC
18” STEERING WHEELS
SAVE HUBS SOLD SEPARATELY IN STORE $112ea $122ea
I 4 spoke
MW-1WEC $297 $307
MW-5WEC $297 $307
MW-8NHC Suits Kenworth models 1997-99
Leather MW-1WCD & Woodgrain $330 $350
MW-5WCC $330 $350
MW-8THC Suits Kenworth models 2001 onwards
SB2424CCAUS $54.95 $59.95 24/24 brake chamber SB2430CCAUS-1 $54.95 $59.95 24/30 brake chamber
SB2430CCAUS-320-1 $56.95 $61.95 24/30 extended push rod 120mm
SB3030CCAUS-320 $60.95 $65.95 30/30 extended shaft
I Premium pocket-spring mattress with cooling gel for regulated body temperature I Trimmed with antibacterial fabric I Foam encased on all sides for a firm seating edge TRPSM1818 80(w) x 190 (l) x 21(h) cm
SB3030CCAUS $54.95 $59.95 30/30 brake chamber
I 2 spoke
MW-8FHC Suits all Freightliner models 1997-99 & 2001 onwards MW-8SHC Suits all Western Star & Mack models 1997-99 & 2001 onwards
SEE IN STORE FOR COMPLETE RANGE
SB3636CCAUS $100 $105 36/36 brake chamber
SEE IN STORE FOR COMPLETE RANGE TO SEE THE TRP MATTRESS VIDEO, SCAN THE QR CODE
Prices herein are recommended selling prices for both Privileges members and non-members, inclusive of GST. Recommended selling prices in this publication are provided as a guide. Prices may vary at the dealerships. Freight charges may apply. Core charges are not included in selling price however may be applied by the dealer. All items have been included in good faith on the basis that goods will be available at the time of sale. Promotion available at participating Dealers from 1 November to 31 December 2023 or while stocks last.
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Whilst every effort is made to limit the impact of delays, due to current global supply chain challenges, some products may not be available in all retail outlets during the promotional period.
25/10/2023 9:05 am
Exclusive: Driving DAF’S new powerhouse
DAF PRIMES FOR THE BIG TIME
In this initial report, we reveal the extent of Paccar Australia’s commitment to creating a continental cab-over like no other, moulding the features of DAF’s superbly equipped XG family with the most advanced big bore truck engine ever created by Cummins. From the boardroom and from the cab, Steve Brooks profiles a truly dynamic step in Paccar Australia’s future
t is more than a tad possible that in the annals of Australian truck production and more specifically, in the bulging story book of product development at Paccar Australia, the launch next year of DAF’s XG and flagship XG+ models will mark a milestone moment. That moment when the corporate cohesion of global powerhouses Paccar and Cummins, and a critical yet hard-won concession from the Federal Government to change a stifling design rule, came together to mark a dramatic, evolutionary shift in the scale and scope of trucks for the Australian market. While it’s still six months or more before the new DAFs are formally launched here, it’s inevitable
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that the XG and the taller XG+ will be the first entirely new models to enter the Australian market following years of urging by major truck suppliers for the Federal Government to increase the width limit of new trucks from 2.5 to 2.55 metres. The government’s agreement finally came on September 28 in a statement from Senator Carol Brown, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Appropriately perhaps, whether by chance or choice, the celebratory photo issued along with Senator Brown’s statement was snapped outside Paccar Australia’s Bayswater (Vic) headquarters with the upcoming XG+ flagship providing a bold backdrop.
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Not surprisingly, the government’s concession comes with strings attached, defined in the senator’s statement as new trucks to be equipped with ‘devices to reduce blind spots, electronic stability control, advanced emergency braking, a lane departure warning system,’ etcetera, etcetera. Of course, none of these ‘strings’ are an issue for the new DAFs which, like all top-shelf continental cab-overs these days, bristle with a full suite of advanced safety features as standard equipment. “These changes will be a real game changer for the industry,” the senator commented, adding that the government’s decision, “responds to direct calls from industry to increase the width limit of trucks.” Moreover, it’s highly likely that among the most insistent in providing government with ‘direct calls’ over the past three years or so was Paccar Australia and its director of product planning, Ross Cureton. Seated in the Bayswater boardroom alongside chief engineer Brad May, sales and marketing director Michael Long and marketing manager Ryan Hooper, it seemed a somewhat relieved Ross Cureton who remarked that after six years of intense planning and engineering development spanning the global networks of Paccar and Cummins, the government’s decision came as something of a belated bonus in preparing the new DAFs for the Australian market. After all, as both Ross Cureton and Brad May asserted, the DAF XG program was going ahead with or without the width increase. Sure, the 2.55 metre ruling vastly enhances the viability and practicality of the exercise simply because it accepts Europe’s standard cab width and, in so doing, cancels Australia’s archaic requirement for a 50mm narrower cab width. Still, there were significantly more critical factors at play than years of waiting in limbo for a government decision. Indeed, it was about six years ago that the stars started to align for Paccar Australia’s long-held ambition to take DAF to a whole new level in this country. First, there were already secret details of a massive project to develop an entirely new range of premium DAF models for the European market. Then, around much the same time came quiet insights of a radical project by engine giant Cummins to create a highly advanced 15 litre engine, physically smaller and considerably lighter than its existing X15 offering yet punching outputs up to 660hp and 3200Nm (2300lb-ft) of torque.
“The new 15 litre Cummins was the key, not only because of its greater grunt and lighter weight” It is, consequently, easy to imagine the brains trust within Bayswater starting to put these exciting prospects together and subsequently formalising a plan to gain corporate approval for what would be a dynamic bid to take DAF where it has never been before in the Australian market: that is, the top tiers of heavy-duty competition. After all, and even in the most simplistic view, these new creations from DAF and Cummins were the platforms for something very special and hugely unique in the Paccar world. Something beyond anything Paccar Australia had previously achieved despite decades of home grown achievements and most vitally, something to spearhead DAF’s emergence from the fringes of Australia’s heavy-duty ranks to a level which at the very least, would challenge every premium player in the continental cabover class. As sales and marketing director Michael Long explained, in the current heavy-duty market there are around 1200 European cab-over trucks of 600hp or more being sold annually. Right now, DAF has no presence in that sector of the market, a void Paccar Australia is particularly eager to end. In effect, these new models are DAF’s springboard into the big time but of course, not before all the boxes for a barnstorming arrival are ticked and re-ticked. As a succinct Brad May put it, “We’re busy. Very busy.”
Top: Paccar Australia’s director of product planning, Ross Cureton. Developing the DAF XG for Australia has been a global project Above: The first XG+ on display at the Brisbane Truck Show. Never has there been such interest and excitement in a DAF model for our market Below: Short ’n sweet. Our exclusive drive in the DAF XG+ highlighted an exceptional standard of build quality and smooth road manners. We’re already keen for a much longer run Opposite bottom: An enhanced image of the XG+ interior. Enhanced or not, the fit and finish appears excellent
Launched in Europe in the middle of a COVID-constrained market in 2021, DAF’s ‘New Generation’ XF, XG and XG+
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“XG represents a major cultural shift for Paccar Australia”
models were nonetheless quick to gain accolades and orders, and by the time of Germany’s all-encompassing Hanover Truck Show in 2022, DAF principals were loud and proud in spruiking the brand’s ascension to the top of continental sales charts. However, the biggest engine in DAF’s European stable is the 12.9 litre MX-13 which powers the current XF model. Australia needed more and of course, the new 15 litre Cummins was the key, not only because of its greater grunt and lighter weight but also its smaller physical dimensions to fit comfortably under the new cabs. Thus, behind the scenes in Europe, engineers and component specialists at DAF headquarters in the Netherlands were fully engaged with their Australian counterparts and likewise, Cummins’s senior technical people in Europe and Australia. Obviously, the new trucks had gone through years of extreme testing prior to launch and so, too, had Cummins put a huge effort into ensuring the durability of the engine which had become broadly known as the M15. However, testing and validating the engine for Australian
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Top: Thumbs up all-round for the long-awaited government decision to increase the cab width limit to 2.55 metres. Senator Carol Brown is front and centre with the new DAF XG+ providing an appropriate backdrop Above: Night moves. One of four DAF XG trial units running around the clock at full B-double weights. All four will be soon working in real world conditions with various fleets Opposite top: Paccar Australia chief engineer Brad May at the helm. Wisely, glass mirrors will be standard and digital mirrors optional Opposite bottom: As our exclusive report revealed early this year, the new Cummins 15 litre engine was first trialled in Kenworth K200s. However, in the DAF XG it’s painted black and stamped ‘Paccar’
conditions were essential, with Cummins Australia undertaking detailed field tests of engines in the Kenworth K200s of several leading customers before the arrival and subsequent on-road evaluations of the first DAF XG+ trial units. Yet the engines in the DAFs differ in a number of ways to those first installed in Kenworths. For starters, they’re coupled to ZF’s hugely successful and highly intuitive Traxon automated transmission rather than the usual Cummins coupling to an Eaton ’box. Of a less technical nature but certainly imparting the message that the new DAFs are first and foremost a Paccar product, the engines are painted black instead of the usual Cummins red, and like the MX-13, topped with a rocker cover boldly stamped ‘Paccar’. Whether or not the new Cummins is marketed as an MX-15, well, time will tell. And whether or not Cummins was entirely happy about the colour and branding change of its latest and possibly greatest truck engine is unknown. Either way, both matters now seem something of a moot point. Yet with its local evaluation program in full swing, Paccar Australia was keen to gauge market reaction and shelved its normally secretive protocols to put one of the new DAFs front and centre on its stand at the Brisbane Truck Show earlier this year. To say the new truck was a standout attraction would be an understatement of major proportion, thrilling and surprising Paccar insiders with levels of interest from customers and show goers never before experienced for the DAF brand in this country. As for us, we were keen as seagulls on a chip to get behind the wheel. Again though, there was still plenty of work to do. As Ross Cureton put it, “pulling all the threads together” to ensure each aspect of the new generation DAF was specifically tailored to the Australian market. With six months or more still to go before the official launch, the intensity to streamline and evaluate every
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detail of the specification has not waned in the slightest according to Bayswater insiders, with four fully imported trial units running aroundthe-clock before being prepared for real world work with several prominent fleets. Meanwhile, by the time this report appears the first locally assembled XGs will have already rolled off the Bayswater line. Fortunately, after months of haggling and hope on our part, Paccar agreed to a short but highly exclusive drive in a trial unit coupled to a fully loaded B-double curtain-sider, grossing upwards of 62 tonnes. Of course, a stint of 100km or so on Melbourne freeways and suburban arterials is hardly a definitive sample but the privilege of being handed the reins of a critical new model driven by less than a handful of ‘outsiders’, and particularly a model with so much at stake for its creators, was not taken lightly. Perhaps most strikingly though, the exercise signalled Paccar’s burgeoning confidence and on first impressions, the confidence is definitely not misplaced. Typifying the new model’s initial specification, the XG+ trial truck sat on a 3.9 metre wheelbase and carried a gross combination mass rating of 97 tonnes. Importantly, it also carried fuel and AdBlue capacities of 1200 litres and 130 litres respectively. Underneath was the 660hp version of the new Cummins (a 600hp rating with 3000Nm\2212lb‑ft of torque is also likely to be offered) stirring through a 16-speed ZF Traxon automated transmission into a Meritor drive tandem on Paccar’s Airglide rear suspension, and with disc brakes all-round. From any angle, the external styling is modern and clean with rounded corners and curved roofline clearly indicating DAF’s close attention to aerodynamic detail, not least with the truck’s optional fitment of external cameras and internal screens in place of standard glass mirrors. Wisely, as Brad May confirmed from inside the cab, glass mirrors will “definitely” be the norm and cameras the option. With a set-back front axle, it’s an easy climb into the cab on well-placed steps and throughout, inside and out, build quality appears first-rate. True, time in the truck was short, but it didn’t take long to be familiar with the digital dash layout, major switchgear and control functions, as well as form an appreciation for the roominess and appointments of the high-rise XG+ cab. Have no doubt, in features and finish the XG+ has all the trappings of a top-shelf truck, including a generous and electrically adjustable bed. Meantime, there’s a polite, reassuring hum from the new Cummins which does more than just hint at a fine mix of manners and muscle. Most notably though, the level of throttle response is extraordinarily sharp. Quite simply, it’s a smaller engine with a bigger bite and according to Paccar’s people, early indications suggest a healthy regard for fuel efficiency. That’s enough for now. After all, it was a short drive and it’s still early days. Very early, and so much hinges on the durability and efficiency of the new engine. But this much is already certain: XG represents a major cultural shift for Paccar Australia and there will be no shortcuts in achieving the goal to not only put DAF on a far higher heavy-duty mantle but equally, forge a foundation to take the brand and the company into a broader competitive realm. Similarly certain, this will not be our last report on the new DAF before its official launch next year. In fact, the likelihood is that a much longer run will be provided over the next month or so. Stay tuned!
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NHVR Brett Patterson
Height matters Heavy vehicle drivers are warned to check their load to avoid tragedy in the lead up to the festive season
ith Christmas fast approaching, it will come as no surprise that an increase in truck movements is expected from November this year. As most would be aware, there has been a spike in over-height trucks attempting to enter tunnels in the Sydney region. During this busy period, where we have more trucks travelling on the road network, it is imperative heavy vehicle drivers and operators take the preventative action necessary to avoid a serious incident. New South Wales has more bridges and tunnels with low clearances than any other state in Australia. Over-height vehicles pose a serious risk to the safety of other road users and threaten to cause traffic delays and damage to infrastructure. It comes as no surprise therefore, that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has a zero tolerance for over-height trucks entering tunnels. With a surge in truck movements leading up to the holiday period, this risk is heightened. The NHVR is working closely with Transport for NSW (TfNSW), as well as
Road Freight NSW and the Transport Workers’ Union to drive strategies to reduce over-height breaches and educate drivers on the preventative action they should be taking before, and during their journey. We place a strong focus on educating heavy vehicle drivers and operators, whether it’s via our on-road compliance activities or industry engagement. To ensure drivers are adhering to the safety measures that keep themselves, their load, and other road users safe, we inform, educate, and where necessary, enforce the Heavy Vehicle National Law. The penalties for over-height vehicles have recently been increased. These include: • A fine up to $5,500 for over-height trucks disobeying low clearance signage and 12 demerit points • TfNSW may issue a suspension period for a driver’s license for up to six months • TfNSW may issue a registration suspension period for trucks for up to six months. We know that while road safety is everyone’s responsibility, driving a heavy vehicle can present further risks. At the
BRETT PATTERSON is the NHVR director operations, Central Region.
“The penalties for over-height vehicles have recently been increased.”
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NHVR, we want to ensure drivers and operators know how to manage these risks accordingly. Heavy vehicle drivers should be checking their vehicle has the capacity to accommodate the load type and size and know their load heights. The load needs to be properly secured, to ensure it doesn’t fall or become dislodged during their journey. Loose or incorrectly restrained loads can be life-threatening, cause major hazards and damage property. That’s why using an appropriate restraining method is imperative to avoid tragedy on our roads. This restraint equipment needs to be in a serviceable condition, and appropriately rated for the task. Additionally, all drivers should be checking their load for movement at regular intervals throughout the journey.
It is important drivers measure their load, which should be in accordance with the legal limits for the route they intend to travel. In NSW, heavy vehicles higher than 4.3 metres have restricted travel conditions and must use approved road networks. The statutory height limit for heavy vehicles is 4.3 metres unless it is a: • vehicle built to carry cattle, horses, pigs, or sheep – 4.6 metres • vehicle built with at least two decks for carrying vehicles – 4.6 metres • double-decker bus – 4.4 metres. Drivers should have any restrictions assessed prior to commencing their journey to ensure they have suitable control measures in place in the event their trip is altered. It’s vital that drivers obey all road rules and be aware of any critical locations before starting their journey and throughout. For heavy vehicles operating under a National or State notice, it’s crucial drivers are using the correct roads. Drivers can use the TfNSW Restricted Access Vehicle maps and lists, to locate approved routes for use by heavy vehicles. For a general overview of mass, dimension and loading requirements, you can view our road access page which covers General Access Vehicles (GAV), Concessional Mass Limits (CML), Higher Mass Limits (HML) and general mass and dimension limits. See the website at: www.nhvr.gov.au/road-access/massdimension-and-loading The NHVR also partnered with the NSW Government, to launch an education and awareness campaign following the recent spike in over-height truck incidents. To view the video, see the website at www.nhvr.gov.au/overheight The NHVR’s purpose is to ensure heavy vehicles are travelling safely and efficiently, for the benefit of all road users. This is why we are again urging truck drivers, to check their load, to protect our roads.
25/10/2023 9:14 am
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MATESHIP LIGHTS UP THE DAY The 20th anniversary of the Lights On The Hill Memorial Convoy was a massive tribute to the people who keep Australia’s wheels turning while paying respect to those no longer with us. Warren Aitken snapped up the action from the colourful but bittersweet weekend in south-east Queensland 24 NOVEMBER 2023
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ctober was my month this year. Forget Christmas, forget Easter, and don’t even look at my ever-increasing birthdays in March. October is my month! Obviously, there are the standard events that make October my favourite month, from the Bathurst 1000 to the NRL Grand Final. If you are that way inclined there is also the AFL Grand Final. Then you’ve also had the Cricket World Cup and the Rugby World Cup. Add in the World Poutine Eating Champs in Canada and the Human Towers Competition held near Barcelona. I mean how can you not be a fan of October? Then of course we have the most important event in every October, the annual Lights On The Hill weekend in south-east Queensland. This year’s event, which actually kicked off on September 30 on the first day of the long weekend, also saw the team celebrating its 20th anniversary. Here is the thing about the Lights On The Hill weekend though. It isn’t just a convoy anymore. After 20 years of growth, 20 years of driver support and 20 years of increasing public support, this event has grown from a few trucks paying tribute to fallen fellow drivers to a massive memorial weekend. This year’s event was not
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From top: Land Transport is another huge supporter of Lights On The Hill. This year they rolled out nearly 20 of their best for the event; Toowoomba’s lead truck en route to Gatton; The was plenty of spectacular company convoys rolling in at both ends, like the Metcalf team up in Toowoomba Opposite bottom: It was an early start to get near the front of the Brisbane convoy, but drivers, helpers and admirers were rolling in from 6am
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just the 20th anniversary, it was also one of the event’s best-ever turnouts. When I speak of the success of the 2023 event, I don’t want to focus just on the numbers involved. Whichever way you look at it, having nearly 700 trucks inside the Gatton Showgrounds is a huge statistical success. I also don’t want to just focus on the amazing names that were putting on a show for the huge crowd on Saturday. Country rock band The Road Hammers from Canada, plus The Open Season Band, Natalie Pearson and the amazing Hayley Jenson – that lady can sing! Those guys just tore the roof off the place, metaphorically speaking. Obviously it was an outdoor concert so there was no roof. But if there was, it would have been torn off. What I consider the barometer of success for this year’s show was the turnout of the general public from both ends of the convoy. For those who have been living under a rock and aren’t aware of how the Lights On the Hill convoy works, there are actually two convoys. One leaves from Brown & Hurley’s Toowoomba branch and another leaves from Carole Park in Brisbane. The Toowoomba convoy comprised of nearly 200 trucks coming down garden city’s bypass, tooting and hollering all the way. The Brisbane convoy took up the remaining 500-odd trucks and snaked its way out of the Carole Park
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“There were hundreds of people parked up and waving like mad all along the highway.” Top, L to R: The coolness factor wasn’t just limited to the convoy, even the spectators turned up with some sharp rides; Nolan’s Interstate Transport is a huge supporter of Lights On The Hill, so I managed to rope in the Barron family for a photo. Several of the family still work for Nolan’s and have been carrying the banner for Mark Barron since his passing in 2017; The eastbound convoy looked amazing as it made its way down the Toowoomba bypass Above, L to R: Taylor and Tony Lake are regulars in the Lights On The Hill convoy. This year they had their regular custom Kenworth SAR as well as their puddle jumper UD carrying banners for Mick Fursey and Peter Hansen; Bear Bolen took a minute to share his story with me. Bear (yes, that is his legal name) has been behind the wheel for nearly 50 years. Bear was paying tribute to two old mates at the convoy. Dale ‘Fender Bender’ Johnston had been his best man but lost his life in an accident back in 2000. The other name is Poppa Smurf who worked the airwaves at the Woolgoolga radio base where he and his wife would help pass on road reports to all the truckies; A couple of hours after leaving Carole Park, the westbound lead truck rolled into Gatton Left, and far left: The driver of the lead truck is Luke Layton, standing with his son Jack and his mate Ian Miller. Luke’s old man was a volunteer for Lights On The Hill since the beginning and, after passing away earlier this year, he now adorns several of the Wynnum Haulage trucks. Alf was born and bred for trucks, only retiring seven years ago at the age of 81; Once the trucks were parked up it then became time for the family to get in and make some noise
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industrial estate, down the Ipswich Motorway and out onto the Warrego Highway. This year I made a concerted effort to get to both ends of the convoy and was absolutely blown away by the number of people filling in every possible vantage point along the convoy route, including the streets around the starting points of the convoys and the arrival route into Gatton. There were hundreds of people parked up and waving like mad all along the highway as well. It was an incredible show of support. People had their gazebos out, eskies were open and deck chairs were in abundance. There were parents and kids from all walks of life frantically pulling the airhorn arm pump and Australian f lags of all sizes being waved in support.
As popular and supported as this event is, it is still a memorial weekend and remains a difficult time for all those involved. Whether they are carrying a loved one’s banner on the front of a truck or whether they are seeing a loved one’s name added to the wall on Sunday’s memorial service at Lake Apex Park in Gatton. It is a humbling time for all involved. Many of those I spoke to however admit that they
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“It is still a memorial weekend and remains a difficult time for all those involved.” Top, L to R: Easter’s Volvo – always an eye catcher; Ian Miller had come over from Western Australia to partake in the convoy. “My mate Luke has been asking me for ages to come over and this year I just decided I need to,” Ian says. It’s Luke’s dad Alf that’s pictured on the front of one of the Wynnum Haulage truck, the same banner carried on the front of the lead truck; Another stunning fleet was the Northcott boys with their TKN tippers of all shapes and sizes Above, L to R: Leading the Toowoomba convoy this year was Glen Ksiezopolski who dropped his Mort & Co molasses tanks, grabbed his partner and the banner for his good mate ‘Balls’ and took on the lead truck position; Doug Brown has been participating in the Lights On The Hill convoy for 15 years. He is carrying the banner for his partner’s husband who passed away in 2008; Goondiwindi based Ambrose Haulage turned out in force with a fleet of stunning trucks. The effort put in by all involved shows just how important this memorial convoy is to the transport industry; I’m not sure who this awesome Star belongs to but it was great to see old girls like this out paying their respects Right and far right: Lights On The Hill is a fundraiser, a memorial, a family day out and also time to show off nice-looking trucks. S&J McMahon’s stunning Melbourne Storm-inspired 909 took out the Rig of the Show award in a very competitive field; The crowds were out in force at every vantage possible point
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“It’s often a thankless industry but seeing that kind of support was uplifting.”
truly enjoy the Lights On The Hill convoy as they get to celebrate some amazing people and, most importantly, they get to remember and memorialise them. For that, they also thank the organisers. Many also pointed out how amazed at the show of support from the general public with several saying ‘it’s often a thankless industry but seeing that kind of support was uplifting’. Big congratulations need to go to the Lights On The Hill team and the countless volunteers who once again did an amazing job. From the registration at the convoy assembly points to those who spoke so eloquently and held it together so well at the memorial on Sunday, and the volunteers who somehow managed to successfully park nearly 700 trucks and others who kept the crowds f lowing freely through the turnstiles – a big congratulations! That’s has been enough waff le – enjoy the photos and let’s start getting the trucks ready for the 2024 Light on the Hill Convoy.
Top, L to R: Rocky Black’s Kenworth SAR is always a showstopper and he made it clear to the crowds the convoy was coming; Tony Alexander and Tim Agius got their steps up by taking their stunning remote control trucks out for a walk Above, L to R: Richard Szkurda and Zoe Dawes were in the convoy, carrying the banner for Zoe’s friend Stephen White who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year after spending the majority of his life with either fuel tankers or cattle crates in tow. Richard drives the Mack for Brown Contractors and this was his first time at Lights On The Hill, finding it a very emotional experience; This year even the Defence Force got involved with a couple of very cool custom trucks. These were a particular favourite for the kids in at the Gatton showgrounds Left: There wasn’t a lot of cars heading west as the car carrying kings Helenrae Haulage team brought some stunning trucks along
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TWU Michael Kaine
Unity and strength Convoys are set to take place around the country to show that the time for reform is now
ith only a couple of months left of the year to go, many around the country are beginning to wind down. Well, transport workers never have the luxury of a wind down and, towards the end of each year, their work only ramps up. In 2023 we’ve got a once in a generation opportunity to tap into and boost that endof-year momentum and achieve lifesaving, industry-changing reform. With legislation now before Parliament, the coming months are crucial. By the time this is published, Federal Parliament will be edging ever closer to voting on that legislation. It’s taken incredible unity and perseverance to get us here and it will need more of the same to get it over the line. To show Parliament just how urgent reform is, the industry is busy preparing for the biggest truck convoys yet to take place right across the country on November 25. The Sydney convoy will again be travelling to the steps of Parliament House and will include hundreds of transport workers and their families, transport operators large, medium and small, as well as employer and industry bodies. As always with convoys, it will be an incredible show of unity and strength to the decision-makers of this country. I have no doubt of that. In the meantime, representatives from all around the industry have been speaking to Federal Senators about their stories, and the urgent need for this reform, as part of
the Senate Inquiry process for this Bill. Senators—including crossbenchers, whose votes will be crucial—heard from people like Robert Ireland who turned to methamphetamine when he was a truck driver to stay awake on the road. He talked about how he was constantly pushed to overload and skip breaks. He set out the devastating physical, emotional, family and community distress his experience had caused. When he tried to set up his own business that actually paid people properly and made safety a priority, it wasn’t sustainable. Doing the right thing in this industry has become less and less possible with the massive entities who reap the economic benefit in the industry dictating unsustainable contract terms and price to transport operators and owner-drivers – causing and accelerating a downward spiral of standards and viability. We heard from Yavuz Cikar whose nephew, a gig worker, was tragically killed and denied compensation. The exploitation people like his nephew faced don’t just result in tragic outcomes for workers and families—they undercut the market for every other transport business in the industry. We also heard from John Waltis, a worker made redundant by Scott’s Refrigerated, and who spoke about a fellow driver who’d been killed after being told to keep driving or the company would lose the contract. We heard from Warren Thompson, who works for a major operator that’s under threat from Amazon Flex whose workers
MICHAEL KAINE is the national secretary of the Transport Workers Union of Australia. Contact Michael at: NSW Transport Workers Union, Transport House, 188-390 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. firstname.lastname@example.org
are drastically underpaid. These stories are not anomalies of an otherwise viable industry. They are not exceptions to the rule. They are the rule. And they’ll be the rule unless and until we have reform in place. Everyone reading this will have their own stories. At the very least you’ll know others who do.
What’s important is that we share those stories. The opponents of this reform—and they are few, those big businesses who profit from the crisis while the rest of the industry cries out for change—can talk all they like about how the system works just fine. But it’s hard to argue that after you’ve heard from those who’ve lost a loved one to this industry, or a job, or their business. They tried to, of course. But big business always trots out the same complaints whenever governments bring reform to the table, while completely misrepresenting what that reform is trying to do. They have to hide behind feeble and vague excuses for why they’re opposing this legislation, or they’ll be forced to actually defend what this Bill is trying to stop – gig workers earning below the minimum wage. Those who hold the economic power at the top of the supply chain are demanding faster and cheaper transport while drivers and operators are already balancing on a knifeedge or dying on our roads. They can’t defend those things. That’s why these stories are so important. They’ve shown senators not just the real people in this industry and the need for change, but the dire consequences of moving too slowly. Keeping the status quo in road transport doesn’t just mean stagnation. It means rock bottom for an industry that’s already in freefall and that means even more deaths, insolvencies and job losses. Already there’s an average of three deaths a week. This legislation has been developed after years of consultation with the road transport industry. It is a sophisticated approach which avoids the errors we believe have been made in other jurisdictions around the world as governments try to catch up with the gig economy. It provides a system that is flexible enough that it can keep pace with technology and close every avoidance escape hatch companies can dream up. And it improves on past errors by involving representatives and expertise from the transport industry at every step along the way. Every minute of delay that we don’t have this type of modern, flexible, regulatory support for the road transport industry right across the country, including in the gig transport economy, is a day where the pressures remain that kill people on Australian roads. We’ve got a chance now for a huge final push before this legislation is voted on. It’s time to win transport reform for a safer, fairer and more sustainable industry.
“Doing the right thing in this industry has become less and less possible.” ownerdriver.com.au
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truck of the month
CRÈME DE LA The Western Star brand is no stranger to the Land Transport fleet, but the company’s blue 6900 Constellation known as ‘Sunrise Ruby’ well and truly stands out from the crowd. Warren Aitken chats with the Land family before following driver Ken Coupe for the long run across ‘the paddock’
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e are all a little guilty of reminiscing, daydreaming of a bygone era, whimsically recalling and longing for ‘the good old days’. Well, today’s story has ended up being pretty well driven by that premise. Celebrating the good old days with the good old trucks. I should point out though that that is not how the story was
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originally pencilled in. In fact, there never really was a story plan. When I first laid eyes on this stunning big blue Western Star at the 2022 Casino Truck Show I just wanted to get it in front of my camera. No deeper meaning, no ulterior motives, it was all about the appeal of the big 6900. To quote the youth of today, the gigantic Star was ‘snatched’. For those of us who don’t vape, play Minecraft,
or live life on TikTok that means ‘damn, that looks good’ and ‘damn, this Western Star looks good’. Hence my goal was purely to get the truck in front of my camera. Then I met the man behind the wheel, Ken Coupe. I also met the man behind the truck, Robert Land, and I also met the company behind the man that’s behind the Land Transport truck. Next thing I know I am lacing up my workboots, jumping behind the wheel of another Land Transport truck and accompanying Ken across the paddock to Perth, just so I could score some cool photos of one of the last ever Western Star 6900s built. Before I headed off with Kenny for the 10,000km round trip to the Western Australian capital, I sat down with the Robert, Land Transport’s national transport manager and eldest son of Land Transport’s founders Barry and Raewyn Land. I was extremely keen to
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“We’ve been blessed with some of the best drivers in the world.”
learn the history of a company that has managed to evolve and adapt so well to the current climate in trucking, a climate ruled by regulations, restrictions, policies and procedures. Land Transport has not just survived but thrived, while also managing to hold firm to a lot of the old school ideals and principles from the good old days of trucking. The company, which now has around 70 linehaul vehicles, began nearly four decades ago and has become a leader in its field, with its modern fleet, cutting edge logistics management and highly qualified staff. Yet at the same time the work they do, the core values of the staff and even their adherence to workday staff barbecues, reflects the pride they take in their old-school ways. Land Transport is one of those few companies where everybody in every yard knows how to tarp down a load – and regularly do. They buy and spec trucks to suit not just certain roles but specific drivers. Land Transport is a familyfuelled company that knows how to move any
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kind of freight and over the last 40 years has pretty much moved every kind of freight. On a side note, when I mentioned everyone in every yard knows how to tarp, I wasn’t including myself. Technically I don’t count as I am a relief driver and, thankfully, I was given a tautliner to take to Perth. I take comfort in knowing there are so many tarping connoisseurs at Land Transport for next time though as my tarping skills are about as sharp as an undercooked chocolate cake. “My dad and his mate Trevor Young started the company back in 1984,” Robert says, explaining that he was three years old at the time but already on his way to becoming a fully-fledged truckie. “I was just one when I did my first run in dads T-Line.” The International T-Line wasn’t his dad’s actual truck. At that stage Barry and Trevor were both working for Ernie Loughlin in Toowoomba. It wasn’t until Robert was three that he said “goodbye” to the old T-line when an opportunity arose for Barry. “Dad and Trevor decided to get their own
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trucks and have a go. They started Young & Land together but also had their own trucks under individual businesses. Dad was BJ & RI Land and Trev ran a truck under TJ & SD Young,” Robert explains.
Across the paddock
At this stage of the interview Barry Land joined Robert and me, helping to paint a picture of the early days of Young & Land. “In those days it was mainly machinery. A lot of the places are gone now but we used to do a lot of John Deere and stuff out of Dalby and that,” Barry recalls. “We started
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out with mainly Melbourne and Adelaide and then started doing Perth as well. We didn’t make a lot of money but we had a lot of fun.” It is strangely fortuitous that the blue colour of the 6900 featured here is very similar to that of the truck that started the company off back in 1984. “The first truck was a blue LNT9000,” Barry continues. “We had that for about three years then. It was about 1987 when we bought our first brand new truck – a red, white and blue Ford LTL. They were good trucks mate, they had the right-sized motor, 15-speed gearbox … they were a bulletproof truck. You couldn’t kill them.” Barry and Trevor worked very closely together, running Young & Land as one of Queensland’s premier transport teams. As that company grew so did their individual companies. “At first, I just had my truck. Then I’d buy a truck for a mate to drive, then another truck for another mate and eventually I bought a heap of trucks and no mates,” Barry laughs. In 2008 Trevor and his wife Shirley decided retirement was a more appealing pursuit and sold out to Barry. The result of that was the end of Young & Land, TJ & SD Young, BJ & RI Land and the emergence of Land Transport. “I didn’t set out to do what we’ve done, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We’ve had our ups and downs, like everyone has. But it just makes you stronger,” Barry says. He also admits it has been the workers and customers that have made it all worthwhile, many of whom have been with the company for years and decades rather than days and weeks. “We’ve been blessed with some of the best drivers in the world,” Barry admits. “We have 20-odd drivers that are over the 10-year mark. We’ve got one bloke here, Wayne Briskey, he’s 70 years old. Top bloke, we just gave him one of the new Macks and he was that excited he wouldn’t shut up. I had to wind the windows up on the ute and drive away just to stop him telling me about it.” I did mention the family side of the business as well, didn’t I? That wasn’t a metaphorical statement either. There is a strong family feeling that runs through the place, from the can-do approach to taking on any and all sorts of freight, to the laid-back, having-a-laugh Friday barbecues at the depots. There is also a strong family connection within the company. As mentioned, my guide through this story is eldest son Robert, who took on a diesel mechanic
Opposite top: Ken Coupe loves the Western Star 6900. Even after a year on some harsh roads it still looks immaculate Top: There are no easy loads when you specialise in everything Above: As Ken points out, it doesn’t say which night Left: The Western Star’s interior never changed much through the Constellation range, but then it didn’t need to. It’s a setup that offers plenty of room, even enough for the Land Transport custom fridge
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Proudly brought to you by
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“Many places have shut down in those country areas but we’ve kept going.” Top: Western Star trucks have played a huge role in Land Transport’s history. As this photo shows, the family-run company has taken them to every edge of Australia Above, left to right: Who needs a motel when you have this sort of space – there’s no lack of room or comfort in a 68ft bunk; Even in the early morning fog the big 6900 casts an imposing presence Below: The Land Transport team has trucks for all situations. My journey across the paddock was in another specialist truck, the company’s Genie K200, specced out for one of their regular customers
pprenticeship in order to kill time between leaving school a and being ‘legally’ allowed to drive the trucks. Then there is the middle son Nathan who managed to escape the truck driving bug, but somehow got bitten by forkie fever and now runs the Toowoomba depot. Then there is the youngest son Ben. Another of the infamous Land sons, but not just for the fact he runs a tight ship as manager of the Melbourne depot but also for the effort he puts into some pretty flash units that hit the road down in Victoria. “If the old girl wasn’t sick of getting knocked up we’d have 10 boys,” Barry jokes. “One at each of the depots.” Another trait of Land Transport that really affirms their family values is their commitment to the small rural towns around Queensland and NSW. They have depots in towns such as Moree, Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. From
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there they service a bundle of other local communities. “We actually got an award for ‘Service to the Moree Community’ a couple of years back,” Barry says. “Many places have shut down in those country areas but we’ve kept going. There are also a lot of others who’ve built their businesses off the back of ours. If we don’t service somewhere there will be someone who does, and we work with them.”
Well that pretty much rounds up the report on Land Transport, now let us turn our attention to the whopping great Western Star that brought us here in the first place. The big blue behemoth that goes by the name of ‘Sunrise Ruby’. ‘Sunrise Ruby’ is a 2022 Western Star 6900. The crème de la crème of what is now the extinct Western Star Constellation range. It’s not the first Western Star in the Land Transport fleet and will be far from the last. In fact, there was a time in Land Transport’s not-too-distant-past when the company was all Western Star. That is no longer the case, with the 70-odd interstate trucks now comprising of everything from Western Stars and Mercedes-Benz to Kenworths, Macks and Volvos. These days truck purchases are based on job requirements more than brand affiliation. Hence the arrival of not just ‘’Sunrise Ruby, but four other 6900s. “We buy the right trucks for the right jobs,” Robert says. “We buy the big trucks for the guys doing the big work, like Perth. The drivers can be in the trucks for weeks sometimes and we don’t want them feeling claustrophobic. They need to have
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room to relax and feel at home, because it is their home a lot.” The 68-inch bunk and all the mod cons fitted to ‘Sunrise Ruby’ ensure driver Ken can happily equip himself for a long stint on the road. It also has another advantage that Ken loves. “It’s too big to go do any of the east coast work,” Robert adds. I am sure many of you have picked up the name of the truck by now but in case anyone missed it I shall repeat it – ‘Sunrise Ruby’. This is a reflection of the lovely young lady that had a helping hand in the setup of this marvellous machine, Robert’s daughter Ruby. “When we bought these trucks, we wanted to do something different,” Robert says. “We’d had trucks in different colours before we went to the corporate colours back in ’06 and ’07, and we thought with these being the end of an era for Western Star, we wanted to do something with each one. Above: The truck, ‘Sunrise Ruby’, is named after Robert Land’s daughter Opposite top: Sunrise on ‘Sunrise Ruby.’ Ken’s standard setup sees him with a loaded flattop and a loaded drop deck with tarps to cover every load – just not this week Right: In the middle of Western Australia Ken managed to stumble across one of the sister Stars
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“I wanted to keep it fairly close to how the original old school trucks looked.” “I wanted to do the first one up for Ruby. I sat down with her and the swatch chart and she chose the colours.” When it came to the design work though, Robert chose to call in a mate who knows how to make a truck look good, Jon Kelly. I would like it noted, I agree Jon can design a cool looking truck and with this Star he has nailed it again. But I would still be interested to see what an eight year old Ruby would have come up with. What stands out with this particular 6900, even compared to the others which arrived, is the simplicity of it. It’s not over the top with lights or stainless. “I wanted to keep it fairly close to how the original old school trucks looked,” Robert says. “Jon is a good mate and he helped me plan it out. We sent it off to Damo at Masterart Designs to paint it all up and then it went back to Jon’s place to get the extras added. But not too much.” Those extras included getting Cliff Brown from Pro Truck Electrical to add a few extra lights, as well as getting the team from Rocklea Truck Electrical to wrap all the tanks. Some subtle stainless extras were added just to finish off the authentic look Robert was after. As for the addition of a fully carpeted floor, well that’s just a touch of luxury for the big 6900. “The truck came with all the boxes ticked anyway,” Robert says. “We order all our Western Stars through my uncle Scott at Pengelly Trucks. He knows exactly what we want.”
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The truck was rolled off the boat in March 2022 and debuted a couple of months later at the Casino Truck Show. The one advantage of wanting to keep it simple and tidy was that, with the exception of the paintwork, it was a fairly quick process to get it on the road. We can’t wrap it up without looking to the man that holds the keys to the kingdom, Ken Coupe. Ken has been with Land Transport for over five years and his dedication to his craft and his pedantic approach to looking after the trucks that were thrown his way had been duly noted by those in the office. Therefore, once Robert had signed the paperwork on the truck, dedicated to his own daughter, it was Ken who was asked to take the keys. “I’d never really driven any Stars,” Ken admits. “I’d had one 4800 for a bit when I started at Land but really I was Kenworth man. Then I got one of the Macks to do Perth and it was like a Rolls Royce. So, when I got asked to take the Star, I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going backward. I definitely wasn’t. I love it. Not much of a turning
circle on a 6900 but it’s a paddock truck. It’s great for out here.” Ken’s regular run sees him with a couple of flat-top trailers in tow and carting anything from brand new trucks or state-of-the-art machinery, to palletised freight or dangerous goods. The truck has now clocked up its first quarter of a million kilometres and is just getting better and better. As far as summarising this story, well all I originally wanted was a couple of nice shots of this striking 6900. My trip to Perth alongside king Kenny provided that. It also reaffirmed the family values and old school adage that has helped Land Transport in its journey. Our trip had a few hiccups, but we found ways to fix them. It had a few hold ups, we didn’t stress, ‘get there when you get there’, and our trip was packed full of characters. Happy motoring, Stino, Ross, Ricky, big Ed … to name but a few. All in all, the Western Star 6900 may be the end of an era, but the Land Transport era is just getting warmed up.
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NRFA Marcus Cosgrove
Fit for purpose Time changes everything within road transport
hen considering what has happened across the road transport sector over the past five years, one could easily conclude that our industry has not only gone through a period of massive change but a period of upheaval. With the many changes to the way chain of responsibility regulation is interpreted and how fatigue management of the driver continues to be the hot topic for many road safety policy makers, when will the policy makers stop trying to punish the driver for doing a five-star job. When I entered the road transport industry at the tender age of 15 years old, all I saw was the possibility of being just like my grandfather. At this age I thought my grandfather had the best job in the world. Having a job that allowed him to see this fantastic country called Australia, was a job that I wanted. I was not aware that I was going to enter an industry that continues to be over-regulated while being okay for a driver to lose his weekly wage in the blink of an eye. With my first ever job washing trucks for my late uncle, Robert Davis from RJ & S Davis Transport Toowoomba, all I knew was I was one step closer to being like my uncle Bob. Being employed to wash all available interstate trucks every weekend, not only allowed me to work with my uncle but it was the start that I needed to earn some basic working fundamentals from a young age. With my Saturday pay being $10 plus all the loose change from the interstate drivers, I was rich in my eyes. With the money pot overflowing, I went on to by a brand-new pushbike. Over the next few years my uncle was good enough to teach me what an honest day’s work looked like and how a solid work ethic will take you places. With many hot summer school holidays spent loading watermelons, destined for the Brisbane fresh food markets in Rocklea, it was quickly discovered that a university career was not going to be in my future. With my school academic results looking more like a horror crime scene, my senior high school years were spent completing a school-based Certificate II in Business Administration traineeship. With the successful completion of the above traineeship, completing year 12 and the need for my uncle to close the business due to a sudden diagnosis of cancer, I found my road transport career taking a slight left-hand turn. With the passing of uncle Bob 18 months later, I ended up taking a position with my immediate family’s parcel
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contracting business. The ongoing work gave me time to really assess what I really wanted to do with my life. Due to the constant pain of losing my uncle, I exited the family business to work with another multinational road transport company. This allowed me to move toward obtaining the ultimate multicombination driver’s licence. As I had been given many great opportunities throughout my actionpacked road transport career, at no time would I ever say that I am ungrateful for whom I have met and the experiences I have had. I have seen many fantastic places around this great land we call Australia, but I have seen many unsavoury and horrific heavy vehicle accidents that should have never happened. With many high impact heavy vehicle accidents resulting in the loss of life of a brother and/or sister of the highways, our industry leaders and elected Federal Members of Parliament continue to struggle in being able to provide real life saving answers. Our industry continues to struggle with not having enough well-equipped heavy vehicle parking bays available for our professional drivers. It is the great work from all National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) board members that continues to work hard in this space. With several policy makers within the Transport for NSW wanting to listen to us, it is with hope that we will see many great changes soon.
MARCUS COSGROVE, as well as a being an advocate for mental health, is a passionate road safety advocate working with the National Road Freighters Association as a board member and social media officer.
With the dreaded renewal of my driver’s basic fatigue management medical fast approaching, I thought this process was going to be a simple and easy process, being that I have just popped over the slim age of 42. I was quickly advised that I needed to go and do a sleep test for the medical to be approved. With the knowledge that I do snore from time to time when at home, I was not too concerned with what the results could be. With the sleep test ordered and completed in very quick fashion, the results did not go in my favour. With my wife in tow, I was now diagnosed with critical obstructive sleep apnoea with 146 episodes per hour being recorded by the sleep testing equipment. With the doctor telling me not to stress, I had heaps of questions that needed to be answered. Thoughts of how I was going to continue to support my family without a licence kept running through my head. As far as I knew, if you have sleep apnoea the transport department will take your licence off you. With my doctor starting to tell me what the game plan will be to ensure that my heavy vehicle licence is not going to be cancelled or suspended, I started to relax. With clear instructions and a few goals being set, I was referred to a sleep tech for the fitment of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. With positive results being realised really quick with an average of below five being recorded on a regular basis, the health benefits are out of its world. With more energy throughout my day and more energy to share with my wife, life in my household is looking up. As my sleep apnoea journey is still in its early days, it is through my own research that I can tell you that your life on the highway will not end if you are diagnosed with sleep apnoea. With several health and lifestyle changes that may need to be implemented, the winner will be you and your family at home. Please keep safe on the road my brothers and sisters of the highway and please make sure you get home safe to your loved ones.
“My uncle was good enough to teach me what an honest day’s work looked like.”
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HIGHWAY ADVOCATES Robert Bell
The chain that binds us If you own or take part in running a transport company, you are sitting on a potential time bomb
he much-vaunted Chain of Responsibility (CoR) is something we have been hearing about for some time now. In 2018, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) was amended to include CoR as a concept developed out of the recognition that unlawful behaviours by truck drivers may be influenced and are often controlled by other parties other than the driver. A truck driver is not a link in the Chain of Responsibility, although they are often prosecuted when other parties have a hand in the offending behaviours. The parties in the Chain of Responsibility are: • an employer • a prime contractor – if the vehicle’s driver is self-employed • an operator of the vehicle • a scheduler for the vehicle • a loading manager for any goods in the vehicle • a loader and/or unloader of a vehicle • a consignor of any goods for transport by the vehicle • a consignee of any goods in the vehicle • a loader and/or unloader of any goods in the vehicle.
Before 2018, an accident, incident, or road offence had to occur before executives could be held liable. Under CoR now, all parties are required to exercise ‘due diligence’ to ensure they comply with the Safety Duty requirements under section 26 of the HVNL. In short, the HVNL now expects parties to take a proactive rather than a ‘reactive’ approach to safety with eye-watering high penalties now available. The maximum penalty for a breach of HVNL section 26F Category One offence for an incorporated body is $3,546,390. For an individual, it can mean two years in prison coupled with a maximum fine of up to $377,639. Remember also, HVNL section 26E also provides for prohibited requests and contracts. A party in the CoR must not ask, direct, or require (directly or indirectly), nor enter into a contract that requires the driver of a heavy vehicle or a party in the chain of responsibility to do or not do something the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, would have the effect of causing the driver – (a) to exceed a speed limit applying to the driver; or (b) to drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle while impaired by fatigue; or (c) to drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle while in breach of the driver’s
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work and rest hours option; or (d) to drive a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle in breach of another law in order to avoid driving while impaired by fatigue or while in breach of the driver’s work and rest hours option.
The CoR provisions are now starting to take effect, with some important recent court decisions sure to send a chill down the spines of collective parties in the CoR around the participating jurisdictions. One such decision is Transport for New South Wales v De Paoli Transport Pty Ltd  NSWSC 1678 (09 December 2022) whereby Transport for New South Wales appealed against the leniency of sentences imposed by the Local Court, in respect of the company, a director and an employee for a breach of HVNL section 26C. In the Local Court, the Magistrate made the following observations: “The best system in the world can, at most, minimise. It will never eliminate because as long as trucks are driven by humans it will never minimise. As long as trucks are driven by humans on roads shared by all the other hat-wearing caravan haulers out there, it will never [be] eliminated. It will be minimised or, hopefully minimised, but that’s an
ROBERT BELL and his team of legal professionals are Highway Advocates, a focused legal practice dealing with heavy vehicle offences throughout Australia. Robert is an ‘industry insider’ with a wealth of transport sector experience. He is the guiding force behind the successful outcomes that Highway Advocates consistently achieve. Contact Highway Advocates at admin@ highwayadvocates.com. au or 0488 01 01 01. Visit their website at www. highwayadvocates.com.au
“All it takes is for a prosecuting authority to get a sniff.”
aspirational goal, effectively, again, a conceptual framework, with impossibility as its benchmark, with the greatest respect … “Anyway, leave that to one side. I’m not a trucking aficionado. In fact, I don’t have much time for the matter as such, but I’ll put aside those feelings. I’m not a person in one camp or a person in the other camp, but I am a road user and have been for probably more than anyone else here in – perhaps, not everybody in the courtroom. I’ve been there and done that and seen this and that. I’m aware of those things of minimisation, not elimination. No system in the world would eliminate something. Where do we see evidence of that? Every time you open your eyes in the morning, there it is in front of you. It’s called life.” Most of us will think it makes sense. However, Transport for NSW appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of NSW and the fines were increased for the company, $15,000 to $180,000 and the individual fines upped from $6,000 and $3,000 to $15,000. This case can be distinguished to a certain extent as the respondent (De Paoli Transport Pty Ltd) was insured against prosecution and penalties. Take note, insurance companies, HVNL section 742 prohibits such insurance contracts and renders them void. Another recent Queensland decision, Department of Transport and Main Roads v NM & AA Foley Contracting Pty Ltd  QMC 5 resulted in a single fine of $1,200,000 being imposed upon the company. We believe this single fine exceeds the jurisdictional limit for the Magistrates Court in Queensland, even if the fine was for multiple offences. The decision was appealed to the District Court, however, the original conviction and fine were confirmed. What this tells us is that the provisions in the Law such as the ‘Master Code’ allow for a very broad sword to be applied. There doesn’t have to be an accident or even a close shave. All it takes is for a prosecuting authority to get a sniff or suspicion that something isn’t being done that they feel is within the ‘reasonably practicable’ sphere.
Highway Advocates recently finalised a long-running case for a Victorian regional transport company originally charged with the most serious charge under the HVNL, section 26F, whereby if an individual commits the offence, the maximum penalty is five years in prison and a maximum fine of $377,639. For a corporation, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3,546,930. Highway Advocates engaged in longrunning negotiations with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and the result in the Magistrates Court was a conviction and fine of $35,000 for the company and a non-conviction and fine of $6,500 for the individual involved. Space precludes us from telling the complete story here, but it certainly has some Machiavellian twists and turns. So, remember this, if you own or take part in running a transport company, you are sitting on a potential time bomb. Contact Highway Advocates on our new number 1300 ADVOCATE to take the first step in protecting yourself against potential prosecution down the track.
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NATROAD Warren Clark
Facelifting our image We must de-mystify the road transport industry to win the image duel
emember the 1971 Steven Spielberg film Duel? It’s nowhere near as well-known as Jurassic Park or Jaws and you’d have to be of a certain age to have seen it. Duel was an adaption of a short story published in Playboy magazine. It pitted a middle-aged salesman played by Dennis Weaver and his Plymouth Valiant sedan against a battered Peterbilt 28 tanker truck, somewhere in America’s Mojave Desert. We never see the faceless truck driver as a dangerous game of cat and mouse develops. Dennis Weaver gets a monstering and, being a thriller, of course it all ends messily. In a 2014 interview, Spielberg said that fear of the unknown is perhaps the greatest terror of all, and the effect of not seeing the driver made the truck the real antagonist. Duel was originally a telemovie and was so successful that Spielberg shot extra footage after it aired so it could be re-released into cinemas. It remains a cult classic – so much so that there’s a 4K
Blu-Ray version being released this month. Duel made Spielberg’s career but also gave trucks (and truckies) a bad name – especially in the US where 33 per cent of people with a TV watched its debut. I’m not blaming a 52-year-old flick for any image problems our industry has today. On the contrary, I reckon road transport is generally held in high regard. NatRoad’s research shows that 95 per cent of Australians regard road freight as important or very important economically, and 99 per cent say we are an essential service. Eighty-one per cent of Australians believe that truck drivers are considerate of other road users. Even so, more than a third of them say they can recall an incident of poor truck driving in the previous month. That shouldn’t really be a surprise. When you think about it from the perspective of a motorist, trucks are very big, much noisier than cars and emit a lot of “stuff”. A truck’s involvement in a collision invariably makes it into the media because
WARREN CLARK is CEO of the National Road Transport Association and Teletrac Navman is a Silver Partner of NatRoad.
BELOW, L TO R: Andy Divall of Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage takes a proactive approach in encouraging newcomers to the road transport; Director Steven Spielberg’s first movie, Duel, indirectly gave trucking a bad name
of its effect on other road users. We can’t change any of that. NatRoad’s research also found that 92 per cent of Australians think road freight is a complex industry. In other words, they don’t understand it. Changing that will need positive action on many levels. And it certainly won’t happen via a “feel good” advertising campaign. Educating motorists about how to share the road with heavy vehicles would be much more cost-effective. De-mystifying our industry also has to occur at the grass roots.
GENEROSITY ON SHOW
NatRoad member Andy Divall from Goulburn in New South Wales is a great example of someone doing their part. Andy won our Ted Pickering Memorial Award last year for his outstanding contribution to the Australian road freight industry. His business, Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage, encourages people to take on truck driving as a career. It runs ‘come and try’ days for people to get a feel for trucks – hopefully to sow the seed of them joining the industry. Andy speaks at local schools. His company sponsors female driver training and licensing. Andy works with Convoy for Kids, raising money to support children with special needs. Being deeply involved in a local community isn’t for everyone. Owneroperators involved in long haulage, for example, are already away from home for long periods at a stretch. But if you do feel so inclined, there’s no better time than now.
“A truck’s involvement in a collision invariably makes it into the media.”
NatRoad communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Our advisers are available to clarify any questions you have and provide the right advice for your business and workforce. Contact NatRoad on (02) 6295 3000.
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As well as being involved in road transport media for the past 23 years, GREG BUSH has strong links to the music industry. A former Golden Guitar judge for the Country Music Awards of Australia, Greg also had a threeyear stint as an ARIA Awards judge in the late 1990s and wrote for and edited several music magazines.
ROAD SOUNDS Greg Bush
Stones keep rolling on Legendary rock band returns with renewed vigour CELLOPHANE Holy Holy
SOUNDTRACKS VOLUME 2 Ashley Naylor
El Reno Music elrenomusic.bandcamp.com
dBpm Records/Sony wilcoworld.net
It’s been 10 years of progression for Australian rock band Holy Holy. Basically a duo of Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson, Holy Holy are up to album number five with new release Cellophane, which highlights the band’s move from guitarbased music to include electronics and more keyboards while maintaining their rock credentials. Cellophane features a number of guest artists, including rapper and singer Kwame on ‘Messed Up’, a fast-paced pop-rock track. Tasmanian electronic duo Sumner appear on ‘Ready’, and England’s Tia Carys adds vocals to 'Two Minds, Two Days, Two Mornings'. Tasman Keith adds a couple of brief rap passages to the impressive ‘This Time’, although there’s non better than ‘Heroes’ on which Perth’s Darcie Haven delivers an exquisite vocal performance.
The second instalment of Melbournebased Ashley Naylor’s instrumentals, Soundtracks Volume 2 is nine tracks of guitar-based rock. An integral member of indie rockers Even, Naylor is also the current guitarist for The Church, as well as having collaborated with Paul Kelly and joining the RocKwiz Orchestra. The eight minute-plus ‘Spaceship’, an upbeat riff-laden track, acknowledges his backing band of the same name. ‘Hazel’ is another lengthy piece, although Naylor slows the pace, adding a variety of guitar sounds and styles. He heads west for a short, chilledout spell on ‘South Fremantle’ before mixing guitar and organ on the grungy ‘Cry Baby Jam’. ‘Siesta Motel’ has its share of tasteful melodic licks, and there’s a blues sound to ‘Les Paul Waltz’. An ideal soundtrack for long road trips.
Evolving from alternate country's Uncle Tupelo in 1994, Grammywinning rock group Wilco has released 13 albums since, including this newie, Cousin. Generally at the quieter end of the rock spectrum, Wilco has experimented somewhat on this new album thanks to Welsh producer and musician Cate Le Bon. ‘Infinite Surprise’ starts as a low key affair, culminating in a cacophony of improvised sounds. Lead singer Jeff Tweedy delivers a Lou Reed-type vocal on ‘Ten Dead’, the lyrics referencing mass shootings in the gunhappy US. ‘Evicted’, about a broken relationship, is soft rock with a George Harrison influence. ‘Sunlight Ends’ is another low-key track featuring various percussion, and the title track ‘Cousin’ brings back memories of Talking Heads’ lesser electric moments.
ANTHOLOGY VOL. 1 Julian Taylor
SUNSHINE STATE Good Will Remedy
HACKNEY DIAMONDS The Rolling Stones
Howling Turtle Inc. www.juliantaylormusic.ca
Toronto, Canadabased singersongwriter Julian Taylor is an enigmatic character insofar as music style goes, the full gamut represented here on Anthology Vol. 1. Taylor was voted Solo Artist of the Year at 2021’s Canadian Folk Music Awards for his acoustic album The Ridge, represented here with ‘Ballad Of A Young Troubadour’. However, ‘Set Me Free’ and ‘Bobbi Champagne’, from his 2016 Julian Taylor Band album Desert Star, venture into rock territory. ‘Zero To Eleven’, from his Tech Noir album in 2014, is a big band funk track, there’s soul on ‘Be Good To Your Woman’, while ‘Business As Usual’ harks backs to his days with rock band Staggered Crossing. There’s a couple of new recordings too – ‘Long Time Ago’ is a nice soft-rock track while Taylor sings of being down and out on the waltz-timed countryflavoured ‘City Song’. Bring on Vol. 2.
Often labelled as a “countrified rock”, the music of Brisbane band Good Will Remedy steps outside that boundary on Sunshine State, the trio’s new album. ‘Jay’, released earlier as a radio single, is a tasty mid-paced rock track in the spirit of Crowded House. The title track has a similar feel – joyous while celebrating living in Good Will Remedy’s home state of Queensland. Lead vocalist and songwriter Will Lebihan sings of concern for a friend on the excellent ‘Holdin Up’, there’s an upbeat rock ’n roll groove to ‘Innocent Times’ – one of a number of tracks to feature keyboards – but there’s an abundance of jangling rhythm and lead guitars on ‘May Day’, one of the album’s many standouts. ‘Someone To Blame’ is another chunky rock track. Meanwhile, ‘Think You’re Better Than Me’ is positively country – and a hoedown at that. Sunshine State will be released on November 10.
The Rolling Stones released their first album in early 1964. Almost 60 years later and the evergreen English rockers have returned with Hackney Diamonds, their first album of new material since 2005’s A Bigger Bang. The Stones original bass player Bill Wyman and the late drummer Charlie Watts appear on ‘Live By The Sword’, partially recorded before Watts’ passing in 2021, a track which also features Elton John on piano, the “rocket man” also playing on the rockin’ ‘Get Close’. Paul McCartney plays bass on ‘Bite My Head Off’, and Lady Gaga adds her soaring vocals to ‘Sweet Sound Of Heaven’, which also features Stevie Wonder on keyboards. ‘Angry’, is the album’s forthright first single and, like most tracks, was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The exception is the Muddy Waters-penned ‘Rolling Stone Blues’, a grungy finale with Jagger on harmonica. Just like the good old days.
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Country Corner BIRDSONG Felicity Urquhart & Josh Cunningham ABC Music/Universal felicityurquhart.com
Multi-Golden Guitar winning singersongwriter Felicity Urquhart teamed with Josh Cunningham of The Waifs a couple of years ago, releasing The Song Club, an album that hit number one on the ARIA country chart. The pair has reunited for the 10-track album Birdsong, a subtle move away from their previous release's acoustic sound. ‘Fly By Night’ is a case in point, a swampy blues track on which Urquhart and Cunningham’s swap lead vocal duties while harmonising flawlessly in the chorus. Cunningham’s crisp guitar work continues on ‘Size Up’, a song about his early family life. There’s a Bakersfield flavour to ‘Guessing Game’, while ‘Never Too Late’, a song about fleeing an abusive relationship, borders on country rock. Arguably the album’s best is the folkflavoured ‘Folded’ as Urquhart reflects on the passing of her husband in 2019. It will be no surprise if Birdsong picks up a few Golden Guitar awards in January.
RAISED LIKE THAT James Johnston James Johnston Music jamesjohnston.com
Energetic Australian singer-songwriter James Johnston came from the clouds to score a couple of Tamworth Golden Guitar awards last January, and without the benefit of an album. That’s all changed now with the release of his debut full length release Raised Like That. It’s both quality and quantity on this 20-track album that includes the award-winning title track as well as a number of previously-released singles. A former Australian Idol and X Factor contestant, Johnston has bona-fide country credentials, mixing the genre with rock on ‘Got It Good’, a big production number. ‘Good To Be Back’, a song about his rural NSW family farm and callous investors, is a powerful reminder of the struggles on the land. Johnston recalls buying his first car (an old Ford) on ‘We Grew Up On’, another country rock track, and delivers an emotive performance on ‘This Land Is Killing Me’, a strong ballad. Another CMAA Golden Guitar award contender.
25/10/2023 9:31 am
THE GOODS NEWS FROM THE HIGHWAY AND BEYOND
Ricki-Lee to star at i98FM Convoy Thirsty Merc among the live music acts at the Free Family Fun Day Returning for its 19th year, the i98FM Illawarra Convoy has locked in its main stage musical acts for the accompanying free Family Fun Day to be held on November 19 at Shellharbour Airport Albion Park Rail. Multi-platinum selling ARIA nominated singer-songwriter Ricki-Lee will take the stage with back-up dancers for her first ever performance at the Convoy free Family Fun Day. Since she was discovered on Australian Idol in 2004, Ricki-Lee has become a household name and is one of Australia’s most loved pop stars. Ricki-Lee, who recently released her new single ‘Point Of No Return’, will also be joined by ARIA nominated Aussie rockers Thirsty Merc to provide the main stage sounds for the big day. Having released four critically acclaimed albums, over 250,000 album sales under their belt, a finalist in the APRA Song of the Year for ‘20 Good Reasons’ and receiving five ARIA Award nominations, Thirsty Merc has found its way into the fabric of Australia’s musical landscape. The band’s i98FM is in the midst of their national ‘20 Good Years’ tour. Supporting the two major artists are The Goat featuring Tim Stevens, local cover band Altered States, 2022’s Convoy Band Competition winners The Vandastruts, plus Kate Young, Angie Childs and friends, and Polly Hazelton. All artists are provided to the
November 11, 2023. Mullumbimby Showground, NSW Held in conjunction with the annual Mullumbimby Agricultural Show. Truck registrations open from 9am at the Mullumbimby Industrial Estate off Manns Rd. Drivers to register their vehicles before the truck parade through town at 11am, travelling through town to the showgrounds. All the attractions of a country show including sideshow alley, rides, food vans, full bar facilities and live music. Other features include horse and cattle events including trotting. For other truck show info see the registration form at www.mullumbimbyshow.org.au or phone Mark on 0427 634 903 or email email@example.com
November 18 to 19, 2023. Maffra, Vic.
Held at the Maffra Recreation Grounds on Newry Road, the East Gippsland Heritage Truck Display is open to all trucks of any age reflecting the history of transport in Australia. Plus live music, kids entertainment including jumping castle and model trucks. Catering provided plus American Truck Historical Society club merchandise available. Admission adults $10 per day, $15 two day pass, children under 16 free. Satiurday night dinner. Free camping for exhibitors. All dogs on leash. For further info phone John Burley on 0413 516 233 or Terry Whelan on 0408 516 144.
DANE BALLINGER MEMORIAL BATHURST TRUCK SHOW November 18, 2023. Bathurst Showground, NSW
free community event thanks to a generous $50,000 Entertainment Sponsorship provided by Bluescope, a sponsorship with the i98FM onvoy since 2017. The free Family Fun Day will also include over 65 food, market and trade stalls, Kye’s FMX Jam motocross demonstrations, Eljay’s Freestyle Junkyard Show, Cars for Convoy, Touchdown Helicopters joy f lights, kids rides, Little Big Rigs, and static displays from Transport NSW, Red Cross Mobile Blood Bank, State Emergency Service and St George Illawarra Dragons – and of course the arrival of the truck and motorbike convoy. “We are looking forward to another huge family fun day this year to celebrate the amazing efforts people have gone to throughout the year fundraising for Convoy and families in the area doing it tough due to life threatening and life limiting conditions,” says Convoy manager Mark Rigby. “The support of Convoy continues to amaze me every year,” says Convoy founder Marty Haynes. “There are so many groups these days fundraising throughout the year and the free Family Fun Day is our way of saying thanks to these groups, and celebrating their successes, while also showing families in the area that Convoy supports, that we’ve got your back.”
Lleft: Rock band Thirsty Merc will present 20 years of hits at Shellharbour
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MULLUMBIMBY TRUCK SHOW
EAST GIPPSLAND HERITAGE TRUCK DISPLAY
Top: Ricki-Lee will entertain the i98FM Convoy crowd on November 19
WHAT’SS ON upcoming events WHAT’
Sponsored by Gilbert & Roach, Huntingwood and Vawdrey Trailers. Gates open 9am to 4pm. Featuring over 200 market stalls, food stalls, live entertainment and kids’ rides. Registration $55 per category. Public entry $5, children under 12 free. Held in conjunction with the annual Bathurst Swap Meet Car & Bike Show. For registration and further details email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Debbie on 0407 489 634, Haylie on 0438 316 150 or see the website at www.bathursttruckshow.com.au and/or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/people/Dane-Ballinger-Memorial-Truck-Show/100078193135379
I98FM ILLAWARRA CONVOY
November 19, 2023. Appin South 32 Colliery to Shellharbour Airport, NSW The Illawarra community’s 18th annual big convoy. Bikes will leave Illawarra Coal’s Westcliff Colliery on Appin Rd at around 8.15am, followed by family’s buses then lead. Non-lead trucks join at Maddens Plains to Mount Ousley, Warrawong to Shellharbour Airport. Family fun day at Shellharbour airport with live music from Thirsty Merc, Ricki-Lee and more. Fundraising will continue on-line with a silent auction, raffles and merchandise with monies raised to be distributed via the Illawarra Community Foundation to charities and families in need within the Illawarra and South Coast regions. For further information visit www.illawarraconvoy.com.au or see the convoy’s Facebook site at www.facebook.com/i98fmillawarraconvoy
CASTLEMAINE ROTARY TRUCK SHOW
November 25-26, 2023. Castlemaine, Vic. Sponsored by Jon Kelly from Heavy Haulage Assets (HHA) and Dave Larsen from Larsen’s Trucks Sales. Held at Campbells Creek Recreation Reserve. Organised by the Castlemaine Rotary Club. For further info see the website at https://rotarycastlemaine.org.au/page/truck-show or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/castlemainetrucks
GEELONG CLASSIC TRUCK & VINTAGE MACHINERY SHOW January 13 to 14, 2024. Geelong Showgrounds, Victoria
Includes Vintage Tractor Pull, trucks, cars, farm machinery, steam engines, oil engines, museum. Gates open at 9am both days. $10 adults, children under 15 free. Exhibitors free. For more information see the website www.classictruckandmachinery.com.au or Facebook www.facebook.com/classictruckandmachinery or phone (03) 5221 1707.
LIVESTOCK BULK AND RURAL CARRIERS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE February 23-24, 2024. Wagga Wagga, NSW
Held at the Range Clay Target Shooting Range and Function Centre. The annual LBRCA is a gathering of fellow truck owners and drivers, government, suppliers and industry representatives to focus on the needs of rural and regional heavy vehicle transporters. Issues range from unfair infringements and regulation to unsafe loading and unloading facilities. Plus trade exhibition, the Young Driver of the Year Award presentation, Gala Dinner and Auction Spectacular. For further info see the website www.lbrca.org.au or email email@example.com
To have an event listed free, phone 0408 780 302 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org NOVEMBER 2023 47
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NOT FOR SALE Gregg Melrose has stuck solid with the very first truck he bought 25 years ago, an ’88 Mack Valueliner that’s still paying its way on lighter duties. Alex Catalano writes
alk past the proud 20,000sqm lot of Melrose Cranes and Rigging in Sydney’s western suburbs and you might catch a glimpse of the company’s labour of love. The mighty black refurbished Mack R688 Valueliner, purchased all the way back in 1998 and having been put to work ever since, is a sight to behold. For managing director Gregg Melrose, the truck will always hold a special place in his heart as the first he ever bought. After leaving school, Gregg first plied his trade in the truck repair industry. He worked with his uncle fixing up damaged and smashed trucks and trailers. But even after moving into the world of cranes and starting his own business, the Mack has served as a reminder of where he started in the transport industry. “I’d always bought cars, but I’d never bought a truck before even though I’d driven every truck on the road-to-road test,” Gregg says. “Brand new Kenworths, everything, I’ve driven heaps, but I’ve never actually bought one, but you’ve got to crawl before you can walk.
“A bloke who was one of my customers bought it at an auction when it was three years old, and he had it for seven years, pulling his drop deck float around. “Then he decided to retire and I said don’t sell it to anyone else, I’ll buy it, I need a prime mover. So I bought it. “I decided to spoil myself, because I’ve had it for 25 years and I can’t bring myself to sell it.” The refurbishing process has been a slow burn, as Gregg and an assortment of workers across the business doing bits and pieces to the truck across the years.
While the Valueliner with its 12-speed ’box had been operating as a prime mover for 15 years locally around Sydney, he says it now lives a decidedly “easier life”. Gregg had the truck blown out in Penrith to install a tray on it instead, increasing its lifespan significantly and lowering the load it must pull around. “It’s now 350hp pulling around an eight-metre tray body rather than pulling a 42.5 tonne gross load,” he says. “I decided to give it that birthday and keep it longer.” And while most of the truck has been rebuilt from when he first got it, Gregg can guarantee that the heads have never been off in the 25 years he has owned the Valueliner. “Everything’s been out of it, but have I rebuilt the engine? No. “We’ll pull the cab off, we’ll pull the bonnet off, we’ll pull the bull bar off. Whenever he’s got spare time, the panel beater will go over and play with it,” he says. “One of my guys who works on my cranes, he’s a motor trimmer by trade. He’d take a seat home and do the seat squabs for one side and then two months later he’d do the seat squabs for the other side. There was no rush to it.” Gregg is of the opinion however that there is such a thing as changing too much in a refurbishment, hence the engine remaining. He sticks by a saying we’ve all heard before – if it isn’t
“I decided to give it that birthday and keep it longer.” 48 NOVEMBER 2023
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Photos by Simon Gould broken, don’t fix it. “My head mechanic, he’s a bit of a truck nut. He’d be in there every morning going ‘we have to change these, change those, the accelerator rods’, whatever. “All those things are fine, but how did it drive before you got in here? He’d say, ‘good’, so I’d say, ‘what are we fixing?’. “We haven’t rebuilt it 100 per cent, but it’s old. You’ve got aluminium tanks, but you can’t buy them new, you have to get them made. “So I thought we’d do it a bit different, let’s sandblast them and paint it black.” While it is slow going, Gregg says that the refurbishing process has never felt like a chore for this special Mack. The sentimentality it holds, back to the very first days of the business being founded, outweigh anything else. Reflecting on the growth of the company, the truck has been there through it all. “Sure, we go and buy prime movers and clean them up and blast them and paint them but that’s not the same. It’s the truck that can’t be sold,” Gregg explains. “So it’s now 35 years old, and just generally goes to work every day. Drives around the city, does 40 to 50km and then comes home again. Touch wood, it’s a reliable truck. “When I first started it was just me with a very trusted partner, and we bought half a truck, half a crane and half a trailer each. “Here we are 25 years later with 128 staff, 45 cranes, about 50 trailers, and about 30 trucks. It’s been a long time,” Gregg says. “I started building trucks when I was 18 years old. It’s just about me being a big softie.”
Right: Gregg Melrose (left) and his longest-serving employee Mark Muir with the refurbished 1988 Valueliner and another of Melrose Cranes and Rigging’s black beasts, a 130 tonne GCM-rated 2019 Kenworth K200 Opposite below: The prized six-cylinder 350hp Mack R688 Valueliner enjoys an easier life nowadays, running local out of Seven Hills in Sydney
BUILT TO LAST
High temperature resistant hydraulic fluid Viton seal improved operating temperature range Double action valving system in bump and rebound Single bonded bushing
With over 100 years of experience in every shock absorber, you know they’re built to last.
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NOVEMBER 2023 49
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15, will anything change. There were 24 at my counting and only five by drivers! Someone said it was a waste, they don’t really care, they are just being seen to be doing something and I can and do recognise that cynicism. We have asked for the same changes for so long now. Many have lost both the passion and perhaps the strength to keep trying for change. But if no one does, will anyone else care?
EYES ON THE ROAD Rod Hannifey
A long road ahead
Industry apathy should not sway those we who maintain the passion to drive for change
or those who simply go to work and drive each day, I wonder how many read this magazine? How many think beyond what they do each day, to what happens behind the scenes of this very diverse and complex industry? The job itself can vary from local deliveries, dealing with city traffic to being alone with multiple trailers in the middle of nowhere – and all in between. Each has its own problems and each driver deals with it differently. How do you see your role? Is it just a job, or do you think you are part of something bigger? Does what you do each day affect others, or are you all alone and simply trying to pay the bills? The range of those involved has always varied, but that variation has grown, like the industry itself. So many drivers’ children came into the job, following their dad mostly, or simply doing a trip with a family member or mate. But even that has changed and now is far less likely. Has the job truly lost its magic? We were never ‘kings of the road’ – that was all hype. In years gone by it was truly both hard work and often simply too demanding for many. Now we struggle to get people to see it as a career. It’s not just this job; the world has changed around us and will continue to do so. But where are we going?
We do carry Australia, we do deliver everything for everyone, but not all see it that way. My cousin was a train driver and I got to visit him a few times when in tankers. He kept tabs on me well after that and when at one stage I wrote of the role we play, he did not completely disagree but he intoned we are not that special, all jobs have importance. But if we don’t see it as important, who will? I am writing this watching Bathurst, the 60th year and of course, they have reminisced on the race history. Last year I was there with many of my family and it was all about the day. Yes, each individual day can be important, but without those who look further ahead, what will change? I have just put in nine pages to a NSW Government inquiry into issues affecting truck drivers and then spent an hour on the side of the road answering questions on my submission, along with others who also contributed. But how many took the time, and if there were only 10 or
ROD HANNIFEY, a transport safety advocate, has been involved in raising the profile of the industry, conducting highway truck audits, the Blue Reflector Trial for informal parking bays on the Newell, the ‘Truckies on Road Code’, the national 1800 number for road repairs proposal, and the Better Roadside Rest Areas Group. Rod is the current president of the NRFA. Contact Rod on 0428 120 560, e-mail rod.hannifey@bigpond. com or visit www.truckright.com.au
“We have asked for the same changes for so long now.” The original blue reflectors first appeared 23 years ago. Photo by Greg Bush
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I was talking with an industry mate the other day and I raised an issue. His reply was, “You do realise that no one else gives a bugger” or words to that effect. As you might imagine, he is in a position to know from way above a driver’s perspective. I laughed as, not only do I realise that, I do understand but it causes much of the frustration we all feel. It does not surprise me how many blokes say, “I don’t know how you do all you do, on top of driving fulltime”. But it all takes a toll and a couple of weeks ago, with lots on my mind and a feeling of pressure building, I had even thought earlier in the day about the number of things in play and the issues of idiots in cars and how one second can change everything. I lost concentration and bumped another trailer and tore my curtain. Ten things contributed, none an excuse, alone or together and it was two seconds of disappointment that lasted for much longer. The same day and after the incident inquiry, I had a phone hook up planned with the Queensland Department of Main Roads regarding their strategy for rest areas and the federal funding available. I thought I had clear time, then realised daylight saving was going to mess it up, so tried
to load up in that hour, tried to get a delay, but with others all arriving for the chat I had to try and keep loading and still contribute. There were a number in the meeting and we agreed on some things and not on others. I was the only driver involved. There was another industry rep and yet I was the only one who will ever sleep in a truck bay, the only one whose quality of sleep will ever be affected by any of the discussion – and that is still too often the problem. The green ref lectors raised many questions in the roadside hook-up and in both this and the TMR hook up, I specifically said, “Whilst ever drivers keep calling me up and saying I have saved their lives” I will keep putting them up. It is 23 years since the first blue ones went up and I had hoped it would simply be an interim measure till one day we had enough truck rest areas, but we have actually lost more sites than we have gained over the last few years. We have a long way to go!
25/10/2023 9:49 am
WILKIE’S WATCH Ken Wilkie
Under the influence Should extra focus be placed on motorists in regards to alcohol and illegal substances?
ntegrity? The quality of being honest and upright in character. I consider Australia has lost its level of integrity. And further society too often does not value integrity. I draw your attention to Captain Richard de Crespigny’s comments quoted in the Brisbane Sunday Mail, October 1. He uses adjectives such as ego, ignorance, neglect and mistreatment. There are numerous examples of people in high places of influence not doing what is expected of them. Such adjectives can be well used to describe them. They exist in both private and public sections of society. I’ve had correspondence from an acquaintance, Darryl, some weeks ago decrying the lack of action on chain of responsibility situations. It seems we make all these grandiose regulations but still lack the determination and or moral fibre to apply those regulations. Is it too hard or simply inconvenient? Friends in high places maybe! Are the above quoted adjectives appropriate? Most likely in various degrees. I do see another aspect of the situation. The regulatory minefield is such a complex area that only people like Robert Bell can fathom the intricacies of the area. It is time the statute books were gone through and regulations simply designed to attract revenue or, worse still as with many of those directed at road transport operators, designed because designers have negative industry prejudice. Such regulations must be deleted. Is it such negative industry prejudice that’s stalling and retarding progress towards realistic fatigue regulations? Can the failure of people involved in designing
more appropriate fatigue regulations be described using the before mentioned adjectives?
I took part in a forum on road safety recently. Numerous commentators suggested speed, others poor road maintenance and others suggested driver incompetence. With this society’s seemingly insatiable demand for illicit substances, I expressed a question on the possibility of drivers being under the influence of those substances. A commentator claiming authority in the road safety field quoted a figure more than 50 per cent of people involved in crashes were under the influence of alcohol or some other mind-bending substance. Reported in the general media more recently gave the figure 20 per cent. That’s still outrageous. Maybe the authorities should start the roadside blitz activity again and target the average motorist as well as those driving heavy vehicles?
KEN WILKIE has been an owner-driver since 1974, after first getting behind the wheel at 11. He’s on his eighth truck, and is a long-time Owner//Driver contributor. He covers Rockhampton to Adelaide and any point in between. His current ambition is to see the world, and to see more respect for the nation’s truckies. Contact Ken at email@example.com
I see now that Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is calling for the authorities to release details of accident investigations. It can’t come soon enough. But is the ATA playing catchup? Ross M made that call some years ago and I’ve added my voice for the same many moons ago. The truth in breach reporting is along similar lines. I also seem to remember a recent report from the ATA calling to politicians for better driver education. Bloody hell! How often have I stated that driver education needs to be included in the secondary school curriculum? And I know from experience that simply one day’s instruction is totally inadequate. But at least we tried, and I do have a history of putting my money where my mouth is. Hypocrisy: the pretence of having certain qualities, beliefs or feelings, especially admirable or virtuous ones. Businesses or people who use organisations that employ drivers on ABNs so that such cheats can provide a cheaper service while the procuring operation spruiking high standards of workplace health and safety compliance. Your required reading this month – Toots, Woman In A Man’s World. It’s readily available along the route she plied.
“Maybe the authorities should start the roadside blitz activity again.”
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road test: mercedes-benz gigaspace
MUSCLE MEMORY It’s an unfortunate name for our part of the world but that aside, the recently released GigaSpace cab adds a top-shelf toiler to the Mercedes-Benz stable. More spacious, oozing quality and class, and crammed with hi-tech options, the flagship 2663 GigaSpace model ticks a lot of boxes but best of all, retains all the potent performance, thrifty fuel efficiency and good road manners Benz is relying on to reclaim lost ground. Steve Brooks reports 52 NOVEMBER 2023
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bsence, I’ve heard it said, makes the heart grow fonder. Well, as a romantic notion that’s probably true, but when it comes to trucks competing in an industry ruled more by the head than the heart, absence can have a tendency to foster more forgetfulness than fondness. Take, for example, a recent day-long stint in a Mercedes-Benz 2663 B-double combination, ostensibly to sample the features of the new GigaSpace cab and a swag of hi-tech options. Obviously enough, the ’63 is the big boy of the Benz bunch and this exercise certainly wasn’t our first time at the helm of the flagship model since the Australian launch of the new generation Actros in 2016. Far from it, but it had been three years or more since our last run and with so many different makes and models driven in the interim, it’s easy to concede that a few fundamentals about the biggest Benz had slipped out of the memory bank. Like, just what a smooth, strong, comfortable and wellmannered machine it is, with arguably the most fuel-efficient powertrain in the big bore class. True, it’s a high climb into the towering cab and lovers of lavishly large sleepers may well whine about the Benz bunk (even though it still ranks among the best in the continental class) but from behind the wheel, the driver’s den is ideally designed due in no small part to an information and control layout which, despite major concessions to the digital age, remains entirely practical and quickly familiar. In function and finish, comfort and class, muscle and manners, there has been a lot to like about this current Benz crop right from the start, and not least in the two 16 litre ratings headed by the powerhouse 2663. Yet there is, of course, more to the new range than these models alone and Mercedes-Benz’s rise on the heavy-duty sales charts in the first few years after the new lineup’s launch was no surprise to anyone who had done distance in any of the 11, 13 or16 litre versions. Moreover, after suffering a decade and more in the sales doldrums with the original Actros, Mercedes-Benz’s dark days continued to dissolve into distant memory as the new breed steadily built a formidable reputation across the heavy-duty sector. At the close of 2019, for instance, Benz had delivered a whisker under 1000 units, accounting for almost eight per cent of that year’s heavy-duty haul. Yet the best was still to come. Despite the COVID crash of
“There’s no denying the GigaSpace cab provides a worthwhile and perhaps overdue addition to the Mercedes-Benz range.”
Truly a sweet truck on the road, around-town or highway haulin’
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No doubt making matters gallingly worse for those inside the Benz camp was the slide down to sixth place on the ladder, comfortably overtaken by Scania and a rocketing UD. The first six months of a similarly bountiful 2023 weren’t any better, with the brand notching just 5.2 per cent of the heavy-duty business on the delivery of 450 units and in the process sliding further down the ladder to seventh spot. Likewise, sales figures in the back half of this year haven’t done much to signal an imminent turnaround. After such a strong start in the first five years of the new lineup’s life ‘Down Under’, the slide to market mediocrity obviously hasn’t sat well and arguably enduring the angst, even annoyance, more than most is the vice-president of Mercedes-Benz’s Australian operation, Andrew Assimo.
Top and above: The biggest assets of the GigaSpace cab are more than two metres of standing room between the seats, considerably more storage space, a good driving layout and impressive build quality. Simply, there’s a lot to like Opposite top: The replacement of large glass mirror housings with MirrorCam can give the cab the illusion of being slimmer than usual. But of course, it’s the same width and no question, MirrorCam improves aerodynamics
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2020, Mercedes-Benz’s stake increased to almost nine per cent, catapulting the brand to fourth place in the heavy-duty sector, bettered only by entrenched market masters Kenworth, Volvo and Isuzu. Then in 2021, the stars further aligned to not only retain Mercedes-Benz’s fourth spot on the heavy-duty ladder but also notch a new sales record for the brand with the delivery of more than 1200 trucks. Golden days indeed. But in 2022 the COVID calamity caught up with MercedesBenz and the timing could not have been worse as early results revealed the brand’s inability to take advantage of a breathtaking boom in truck sales. In stunningly quick time and despite an extremely popular model range, Mercedes-Benz came off the boil. It seemed the bullet performer of the previous few years had run out of ammo; which was, in effect, exactly what happened as supply lines from Europe imploded and Mercedes-Benz simply couldn’t meet the record-breaking rush for new trucks. Ultimately, Benz finished the biggest year in Australian truck sales history with a modest 5.4 per cent of the sector from the delivery of 814 units.
The lanky, likeable Assimo is by his own definition, ‘a Benz tragic’. He lives and breathes the brand and his appointment to the top job at Mercedes-Benz in early 2020 (just as COVID-19 kicked in) was widely welcomed and seen by many as a deserved reward for not only his passion and engineering knowledge of the product, but his staunch determination to fulfill the brand’s ultimate potential. However, as the pandemic and subsequent commercial circumstance would soon enough decree, the executive honeymoon was short-lived and it is perhaps a strange and somewhat harsh irony that both Assimo and his predecessor Michael May, now managing director of Iveco Australia, are each equally intent on regaining lost ground in the highly competitive heavy-duty market. Still, it wouldn’t be overly tactless to suggest that Assimo has considerably more to work with than his former boss. Nonetheless, and despite a largely cautious and conservative character, it’s a forthright Andrew Assimo who confesses frustration “to some extent” at the inability and disappointment of being unable to fulfill the brand’s potential in the booming markets of the past two years. “It has hurt,” he ruefully admits, acknowledging the impact on customers otherwise loyal to the Benz brand but effectively forced to shop elsewhere. In the next breath though, it’s a blatantly upbeat Assimo who insists there are strong reasons for optimism, not least more fluid supply lines, high levels of ongoing demand for Mercedes-Benz trucks and the excitement of upcoming product developments.
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“The highlight of a 500km return run was the constant reminder of how strong, responsive, comfortable and extremely efficient the 2663 continues to be.” Predictably, he was loath to define exactly what those upcoming product developments might be but remarked that further improvements to the “exceptional fuel efficiency” of Mercedes-Benz’s 13 litre and 16 litre models in particular will continue to underpin the brand’s growth. Meanwhile, it’s no secret that Mercedes-Benz is also on the cusp of an extensive local test program of its eActros and eEconic battery electric models and while Assimo asserts these emerging technologies will play an increasing role in the brand’s future, he is just as keen to emphasise diesel efficiency and performance as core factors in Mercedes-Benz’s ongoing growth prospects. Yet whatever the power source, a determined Andrew Assimo insists that world-leading safety systems along with advances in telematics and drivetrain components will remain foundation stones of the Mercedes-Benz truck business, now and as far
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into the future as anyone cares to look. As for the introduction of the GigaSpace cab onto the Australian market, the reconfigured shed obviously provides a new flagship to the Benz fleet and in the highly equipped demo model in this report, provided the platform to showcase some of the brand’s latest advances. So, let’s go for a steer. Not far, but certainly far enough to be reminded of the reasons why MercedesBenz became one of the heavy-duty market’s star performers and despite diminished sales in recent times, unequivocally remains one of the best cabovers in the country.
Toil and tech
Giga! In Latin it means ‘big’. Really big. Huge. Giant. Gigantic. Anyway, you get the picture. Thus, it’s easy to understand why Mercedes-Benz’s marketing brains in Germany went for ‘GigaSpace’ to proclaim the
merit of its newest and biggest cab development. However, what those marketing maestros apparently didn’t appreciate or maybe even know is that Giga is also the name of an Isuzu heavy-duty truck which didn’t do particularly well in our neck of the woods. Indeed, after a long but lacklustre Australian career, Isuzu Australia quietly withdrew Giga from the local market a few years back and, without putting too fine a point on it, absence has most assuredly not made the heart grow fonder. Fortunately, and gratefully, similarities between the German and Japanese heavies end at the name. For starters, Mercedes-Benz appears to have done a fine job with GigaSpace, creating more room with a notably higher roofline. As Benz puts it, ‘While the GigaSpace cab is taller, it is no longer than the standard Actros cab, maintaining its versatility regarding overall length regulations (and) features 2.13 metres of interior height, measured from the
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“MirrorCam’s merits for B-double roles remain dubious.”
Above: MirrorCam inside and out. Improvements have been made and the technology has definite attributes in aerodynamics and side vision over traditional glass mirrors. Still, the system’s merit for B-doubles is negligible Above right: The GigaSpace demonstrator was fitted with rectangular fuel tanks engineered and produced in Germany specifically for the Australian market
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floor between the seats to the ceiling, providing ample room for the tallest drivers.’ Other benefits according to the corporate spiel include, ‘… increased storage with three large cupboards built into the front of the truck, sitting above the windscreen. An optional microwave can be installed in the centre cupboard (and) these cupboards are in addition to the space under the bunk which can include two slide-out fridges’. Yet with the cab retaining its existing dimension from front to back, GigaSpace uses the same 750mm wide fixed bed fitted to its other premium models. In no way, however, is that a bad thing because I’ve slept on enough of the locally-sourced inner-spring mattresses in Benz’s bigger cabs to know that comfortable sleep isn’t hard to achieve. What’s more, for two-up teams a fold-down upper bunk is optionally available. Overall, there’s no denying the GigaSpace cab provides a worthwhile and perhaps overdue addition to the Mercedes-Benz range, giving the brand a new benchmark in space and driver appeal while maintaining the high standards of build quality, comfort and practicality already established as fundamental features of Benz’s premium models. Just how much this optional benchmark adds to the price has, however, been difficult to deduce. Typically, price is a sensitive subject for all the market’s big players, rarely revealed for public perusal and obviously,
Mercedes-Benz is no exception. As already mentioned though, there was more to the 2663 demonstrator than the bigger cab, with Mercedes-Benz using GigaSpace to highlight some of its latest technology, particularly the second generation of its digital MirrorCam system. Mercedes-Benz (or rather, Daimler) led the charge to replace traditional glass mirrors with cameras and in this latest evolution the external camera ‘wings’ are 100mm shorter than before and vitally, come with claims for better resolution and lowlight performance on the mirror screens mounted on the cab’s A-pillars. Funny thing though, with the GigaSpace cab’s significantly higher stance and even smaller camera wings replacing Benz’s bulky glass mirror housings, the external view of the cab can appear slimmer than normal. It is, of course, an illusion because cab width is unchanged but MirrorCam’s negligible physical presence compared to traditional glass housings certainly validates the camera technology’s positive influence on aerodynamics and subsequently, fuel economy. Furthermore, as Mercedes-Benz states, ‘Apart from reducing drag, the cameras also improve visibility by removing the traditional mirrors from the driver’s field of view.’ So true, particularly at roundabouts where the big glass mirror housings can significantly impede the driver’s vision of traffic approaching from the right. Still, MirrorCam’s merits for B-double roles remain dubious and it’s hard to understand Mercedes-Benz’s reasoning for using the system in the GigaSpace B-double demonstrator. Simply put, again, the convex view exaggerates the combination’s length which not only makes it more difficult to reverse accurately but further instills the thought that MirrorCam’s designers almost certainly did not have Australia’s unique B-doubles – or A-doubles for that matter – in mind when developing the technology. Indeed, even some Benz insiders quietly confess that modest uptake of the optional mirror system (priced from $3000 to $5000, depending on who you ask) has come from operators of single trailers or rigid trucks. Other optional systems fitted to the GigaSpace 2663 were Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) and the latest version of Active Drive Assist technology. We’ve reported on both these systems before but here’s a quick recap starting with PPC which
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“Fuel efficiency of the GigaSpace 2663 at 62.5 tonnes was nothing short of outstanding.”
Top and above: Ample storage spaces and driver comforts are integral features of premium Mercedes-Benz models with the GigaSpace cab now adding another dimension
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uses topographic map data and GPS to select the optimum shift pattern and engine output to maximise fuel economy. As Mercedes-Benz states, PPC ‘… improves the way the engine and automated transmission are controlled to make the most economical choice of throttle application and gear selection.’ ‘This could mean holding on to a gear rather than changing up just before the crest of a hill, or briefly selecting neutral to save fuel in the appropriate conditions.’ Along with storing topographical data of regular freight routes, PPC also memorises the contours of other roads travelled and further, ‘… can be used in conjunction with cruise control at speeds between 25 and 100km/h’. As good as the system is though, and our experience has shown it to be extremely accurate, it’s also worth mentioning a trait which can, in some instances in cruise control, cause an anxious moment or two. Instances like, hauling up a long grade (let’s say, Conroy’s on the Hume) with another big banger hunting close behind. Anyway, as it’s designed to do, PPC ‘recognises’ the crest and in a bid to save fuel, backs off the throttle near the top before rolling down the other side. Meantime, ol’ mate at the back door is still on full noise and when the Benz abruptly backs off, realises the gap to the trailer in front is closing quickly. Very quickly! Suddenly baulked on his run to the top, it’s not long before an expletive laden rant on the UHF
defines some thoughts on this form of modern technology and in the real world of fast-paced linehaul work, it’s easy to understand the derision. In such circumstances though, the easy and obvious alternative for the Benz driver is to simply put the pedal to the metal but then, that defeats the purpose of PPC. Catch 22! Entirely different to PPC but no less advanced due to its creation largely for autonomous self-driving roles, Active Drive Assist uses an electric motor on the steering box in addition to standard hydraulic power steering to not only make steering easier, especially at low speeds, but to actively steer the truck and keep it in the centre of its lane. Of course, the driver is still required to hold the steering wheel but in this second generation of a system which works in concert with the Lane Keeping Assist function, Benz says the system actually helps to steer the truck and prevent it getting out to the edge of the lane in the first place. In effect, proactive rather than reactive, using cameras to monitor lane markings and applying that ‘feedback’ to assist the electro-hydraulic steering system. Importantly though, particularly for overtaking or moving onto the road edge at the approach of a wide load, the driver is able to overrule the system by turning off the Lane Keeping Assist function at any time. What’s more, this latest version has an ‘emergency stop’ function. If the driver fails to react to repeated and increasingly intense warnings to hold the steering wheel, the system will bring the vehicle to a standstill ‘by means of a moderate, automated application of the brakes’. Clever technology, for sure, but are the extra complexity and cost of Active Drive Assist justified when considered against the reality that Mercedes-Benz’s steering and road handling attributes are first-rate in their standard form? Maybe, maybe not! Either way, there’s no hesitation in declaring that the best part of this exercise was simply the truck itself. Indeed, the highlight of a 500km return run from Velocity Trucks at Laverton on Melbourne’s western rim up to the Murray River at Echuca was the constant reminder of how strong, responsive, comfortable and extremely efficient the 2663 continues to be. Grossing 62.5 tonnes and with just a few thousand kilometres under the belt of the 15.6 litre in-line six, the big Benz’s 630hp and 3000Nm (2213lb-ft) of torque was the epitome of quiet strength and smooth manners, notching 100km/h at a twitch over 1400rpm through the highly intuitive PowerShift 12-speed automated transmission and a 3.583:1 rear axle ratio. As for fuel, well, the first thing to explain is that the test truck was apparently first in the country to be fitted with rectangular fuel tanks engineered and produced in Germany specifically for the Australian market. In this combination, overall capacity was 1100 litres from a 370 litre tank on the right-hand side and a 730 litre unit on the left with an integrated 110 litre AdBlue tank. Meantime, diesel consumption of the GigaSpace 2663 was nothing short of outstanding at 1.89km/litre, or 5.33mpg in the old measure, according to the truck’s on-board trip computer. It’s not known how much AdBlue was consumed but if consumption is typically between five and eight per cent of fuel use, then it’s certainly a reasonable rate given the impressive fuel figure achieved on this run. All up, it seems the only things stopping Mercedes-Benz from a return to the heydays of a few years back are enough trucks to satisfy demand and perhaps more critically, the effectiveness of sales and service people to unseat the competitors who stepped in and forged strong bonds with customers while Benz was on the back foot. Whatever, with models like the top-shelf 2663 leading the way, it’s easy to assert that the least of Mercedes-Benz’s concerns are actually its trucks.
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DOING THE JOB DAILY
While Japanese manufacturers are taking a big slice of the light, cab chassis market, Iveco’s updated Daily range is turning heads with, not only its smart appearance, but a host of safety and intuitive features to make the daily grind a whole lot easier. Greg Bush takes a crewcab model for a spin around Melbourne
hen it comes to tradies’ choices, there’s an abundance of options out there in the cab chassis market. Through sheer strength of numbers, Japanese brands dominate the light duty sector but Iveco, with its Euro 6 updated Daily range, is giving prospective buyers a European option. More to the point, there’s a few options, including the 132kW (180hp) and 155kW (210hp) models. According to Iveco product manager Emiliano Foieri, the majority of customers opt for the lighter cab-chassis, but he was happy to hand over the keys to a 210hp dual five-seater version for a three-hour run around Melbourne’s south-east and beyond. Iveco had placed a substantial load on the 3450mm wheelbase Daily, around 70 per cent of its 4495kg GVM capacity, for a real-life experience. But what is immediately apparent is the roominess of the cab. It’s simply spacious. Even a three-person work crew in the rear bench seat would have little reason to complain, but that depends on consideration shown by possible oversized individuals up front. Another space saver is having the park brake positioned on the dash. Behind the wheel and the driver’s seat is comfy, helped by the memory foam. The seat has both a tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment, adding
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further comfort, not to mention improved ergonomics compared to previous models. Climbing in and out is an easier task as well, due to the seat’s ‘get-off’ angle. Initially, the heated seat gave me concern that I was coming down with another dose of COVID but, as Foieri jokingly points out, the truck had been specced for Victoria’s weather. On the dash, the impressive TFT instrument cluster features seven dedicated screen menus – and there’s a Hi-Connect multimedia system that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and, of course, Bluetooth. For the geographically unfamiliar, this test drive vehicle came with a TomTom GPS. No problem with charging your phone either, with cordless inductive charging available. Off and running, although a couple of wrong turns around the Dandenong area brought the benefit of testing out the Iveco Daily’s turning circle. Top marks there. Anything more complicated and the high-resolution reversing camera, an option on cab chassis models, kicks in. It’s almost car-like in manoeuvrability, but with its height and solidity, it’s all truck. In previous models, the Daily used hydraulic steering, but the 2023 upgrades have shifted to electric power steering right across the range. For tight situations, drivers are able to activate Iveco’s new City Mode through a button on the dash, helping to cut steering effort by up to 70 per cent. Driver focus is tested with Iveco’s Proactive Lane Keep Assist, which Iveco says complements its Lane Departure Warning feature. The windscreen-mounted camera apparently recognises road markings, sounding an alarm if you’re drifting out into the next lane, or off the road, without indicating. It can be a tad annoying, but it’s way better to keep your eyes on the road ahead than have the Proactive Lane Keep Assist take over and autonomously correct the Daily’s trajectory. As with current trends, the eight-speed Hi-Matic automatic transmission in this particular model is commonplace for citybound light-duty trucks. Although some buyers prefer the manual stick, Foieri estimates that number represents less than one per cent of sales.
“It’s almost car-like in manoeuvrability, but with its height and solidity, it’s all truck.”
Driving south-east along the South Gippsland Highway, the
Top, left to right: The Iveco Daily cab chassis has European styling that will appeal to the imageconscious tradie; Comfortable seating for the crew, providing the front passenger slides his seat slightly forward Left: Taking a breather along the South Gippsland Highway
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210hp Daily boasting 470Nm of torque, poked along well, any undulations alleviated by the rear air suspension. As expected, Victoria’s four-seasons-in-one-day scenario soon arrived. No problem there as the automatic wipers immediately took care of any drizzle remnants – another nicety to help in avoiding driver distraction. There’s auto headlights as well, handy when driving in and out of the Burnley Tunnel and the like. There’s a certain aura of safety when driving the Iveco cab chassis, including front and rear disc brakes with ABS and driver, passenger and curtain airbags. In addition to ABS, the range includes an Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS), Adaptive Cruise Control and ESP9, Iveco’s suite of nine electronic stability technologies. In addition to the aforementioned Lane Departure Warning and City Brake, another safety item worth mentioning is Queue Assist which can be optioned, albeit at additional cost. Queue Assist, a fatigue and driver distraction reduction inclusion, is for slow moving in start and stop traffic, allowing the vehicle to automatically accelerate and brake to a complete stop. Likewise, Iveco says City Brake is designed for similar conditions and prefills the braking system for faster response if it detects an imminent collision. This can also provide visual and audio warnings to the driver. If the driver, for whatever reason, takes no action, brakes will be applied automatically. Aesthetically, the Iveco Daily cab chassis is a smart-looking piece of gear, it’s European styling both inside and out giving it a touch of class. It’s a clear-cut competitor in the light commercial and tradie market.
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ISUZU HELPS DRIVE COMPANY GROWTH
Paradise Drive with Isuzu Trucks and Treesafe Environmental Services
reesafe Environmental Services operate throughout the Greater Brisbane region ensuring that their customers can experience the lushness of Southeast Queensland’s subtropics through their skilled arborist services. Director of Treesafe Sam Docker decided to upgrade an aging truck in his f leet. He selected an Isuzu FXZ 240-350 6x4 due to its size and ability to haul the company’s FWR Tandem Axle Tag Trailer. “The FXZ was bought to tow capital equipment for us, we even had the gearbox specifically recalibrated by the dealership,” Sam explains. “We specialise in tree maintenance, tree removal and pruning, and our business approach is similar to a commercial set up, but our clients are the ‘mums and dads’ market. “We do arboriculture work on folk’s properties to keep their homes safe and do medium-scale land clearing, and workplace health and safety compliance for trees and plants on school grounds.”
still use it every day,” he notes. “Depending on the size of the job, the team can be allocated between one to four jobs per day, so having the ability to load up with a bigger truck makes the day that more efficient.”
Loaded with power
The FXZ 240-350 is equipped with Isuzu’s 6UZ1‑TCC engine which packs a punch of power with 257kW (350PS) @ 2,000rpm and
1,422Nm of torque @ 1,400rpm. This means the truck is capable of pulling large loads of tree and plant matter and can handle the most arduous of towing jobs, which often includes Treesafe’s nine-tonne Morbark woodchipper. “We specified the model with the bogey axle so we could tow our new eight-tonne excavator and also load a five-tonne excavator on it as well,” Sam says.
“WE EVEN HAD THE GEARBOX SPECIFICALLY RECALIBRATED BY THE DEALERSHIP.”
As the business has evolved, Treesafe’s f leet requirements have also changed to the point where they needed a more powerful truck to join their faithful Isuzu FVR – a hardy medium-duty model that has underpinned the f leet since its conception almost 20 years ago. The business purchased the FVR in 2007, roughly a year after opening shop. After receiving many years of service from their first Isuzu truck, Sam returned to Blake Montgomery at Sutton Motors Arncliffe to look at a bigger truck to support the business. “The FVR has really put in the hard yards, we
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“My drivers appreciate the addition of the FXZ truck and say the ride is very comfortable and smooth considering the power behind it. Plus, it has great fuel consumption and overall, it’s a cost-effective truck to run.”
Being located in South East Queensland, Treesafe has all its servicing needs seen to by Brisbane Isuzu at Archerfield. “We always get our trucks serviced with Brisbane Isuzu and a big plus point for us is being able to access 24-hour servicing,” Sam says. “Being on the road six days a week, we can’t afford downtime so Brisbane Isuzu services our trucks overnight.
“Planning our services in advance is critical to the smooth running of the business as our jobs are booked out in advance by two or three months, minimum.” Keeping on top of things with a well-oiled maintenance routine means Treesafe maintain their spotless reputation for reliability. This is vital to the operation, as Sam explains. “I think when you have an Isuzu truck, you know that you have the best truck on the road, and that’s what we want to put into our business at Treesafe. “We are looking to expand our Isuzu truck f leet again and with the efficiency of our FXZ from Suttons and the service we get from Brisbane Isuzu, there’s no doubt we will be supported during the process.”
ABOVE, L TO R: Treesafe Environmental Services director Sam Docker; Treesafe’s drivers enjoy the extra power from the 257kW FXZ 240-350 OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Treesafe’s Morbark woodchipper is put to work behind the Isuzu FXZ 240-350
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ELECTRIC LONG-HAUL ACTROS UNVEILED IN GERMANY Mercedes-Benz Trucks has unveiled the series version of the first batteryelectric long-haul truck with the three-pointed star. The manufacturer presented the Mercedes-Benz eActros 600 on October 10 as a world premiere to an international audience at an event south of Hamburg. With this heavy-duty electric truck, the manufacturer says it plans to define the new standard in road freight transport – in terms of technology, sustainability, design and profitability for e-fleet operators. The high battery capacity of more than 600 kilowatt hours – hence the model designation 600 – and a new, particularly efficient electric drive axle developed in-house, enable the e-truck to achieve a range of 500 kilometres without intermediate charging. However, the eActros 600 will be able to travel significantly more than 1,000 kilometres per day due to intermediate charging during the legally prescribed driver breaks – even without megawatt-charging. Around 60 per cent of long-distance journeys of Mercedes-Benz Trucks customers in Europe are shorter than 500km, which means charging infrastructure at the depot and at the loading and unloading points is sufficient in such cases. For all other uses, continual expansion of public charging infrastructure is vital in order to make the electric truck viable for long-
distance haulage across Europe. In addition to CCS charging with up to 400kW, the eActros 600 will later also enable megawatt charging (MCS), Mercedes-Benz says. From the start of sales, customers can order a preinstallation for this. As soon as MCS technology becomes available and is standardised across manufacturers, it is planned to be retrofittable for these models of the eActros 600. The batteries can be charged from 20 to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes at a suitable charging station with an output of around one megawatt. The vehicle is technically designed for a gross combination weight of up to 44 tonnes. With a standard semitrailer, the eActros 600 has a payload of around 22 tonnes in the EU. In some cases, national law may permit a higher payload. Sales of the electric truck start this year. The start of series production is planned for the end of 2024. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will also produce rigid variants of the eActros 600 right from market launch, offering customers further possible applications for all-electric transport. A fleet of around 50 prototype vehicles is currently being built, some of which are also to be put into practical testing with first customers in a next step. “The eActros 600 stands for the transformation of road freight transport towards CO2-neutrality like no other truck with a threepointed star,” says Karin Rådström,
CEO Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “It is characterised by highly innovative drive technology that can offer our customers particularly high energy efficiency and thus profitability. This makes entry into e-mobility even more attractive for fleet operators.” The time where fleet operators can achieve cost parity with a comparable diesel truck using the eActros 600 in long-distance haulage differs from country to country, depending on the electricity and diesel price and toll system.
VOLVO BOLSTERS BALTIC STATES MILITARY DEFENCES Volvo Defense, a business operation within Volvo Trucks, has announced that it has entered a framework agreement with the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments and the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia for the delivery of logistic trucks. Volvo was chosen as one out of two suppliers that combined will deliver up to 3,000 vehicles over a period of seven years. Starting in 2024, Volvo Defense aims to begin deliveries of logistic trucks to Estonia and Latvia as part of a framework agreement where Volvo is one of two chosen suppliers. The overall requirement of the two countries is up to 3,000 vehicles, representing a total value of approximately 440 million Euros ($AU730,279,825). Volvo says the agreement covers seven years which can be extended by three years when necessary. The contract was signed at a ceremony in Tallinn, Estonia on
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October 4, attended by representatives from the Estonian and Swedish governments. The Volvo vehicles will consist of five truck configurations based on Volvo Trucks’ FMX model. The agreement also includes a comprehensive maintenance and spare parts program. The vehicles will be produced in Volvo Trucks’ Tuve assembly plant in Gothenburg, Sweden.
“This is a significant deal for Volvo Defense and a proof point of the reliability of our products and of Volvo as a long-term business partner,” says Andreas Svenungsson, president of Volvo Defense. “I am looking forward to working with our Estonian and Latvian customers in tailoring the best products and services for them during the years to come.” The new agreement builds on a
In the large transit countries of France and Germany a low electricity price and the planned CO2-based truck toll, respectively, have a positive effect on the operational costs of battery-electric trucks. This means that the eActros 600 can be more profitable than a diesel long-haul truck within the average vehicle holding period of around five years or after around 600,000km – despite a purchase price that is around two to two and a half times higher than the diesel equivalent.
long relationship between Volvo Defense and the Estonian armed forces where the first deliveries took place in 2014. Estonia and Latvia are well established markets for Volvo Trucks with a stable infrastructure for sales and aftermarket services. “This contract holds great significance for Estonia, as it offers us a unique opportunity to acquire custom-built vehicles tailored to the specific needs of our defence forces. We are delighted to have entered into a contract with Volvo as their vehicles have consistently demonstrated their suitability for the Estonian climate and environment over the years of use,” said Erko Sepri, Strategic Category manager (Vehicles, Machinery and Logistics) of Estonian Centre for Defence Investments. Volvo Defense builds a range of bespoke logistic trucks, engineering machines, marine and industrial applications, and engines to global defence and civil protection customers.
25/10/2023 10:02 am
NATURAL GAS STARSHIP COMPLETES CALIFORNIA LOOP The Shell Starship 3.0 has successfully completed a US West Coast demonstration run which Shell says showcases the art of the possible for efficiency and carbon reduction in commercial road transport. The third generation Starship truck, equipped with a Cummins X15NTM natural gas engine and powered by renewable natural gas (RNG), ran a fully loaded trailer on an 840-mile (1352km) loop throughout California collecting critical performance data. Shell Starship 3.0, loaded with Shell Rotella engine oil, measured sustainable freight tonne efficiency using tonnemiles of goods transported per kilogram of CO2 emitted (FTE CO2e). These results were third-party monitored and verified by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), as was done with the first two versions of the Starship demonstrations. Shell says the Starship 3.0 completed
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the demonstration run while operating near the maximum permissible gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds (36.3 tonnes) for a Class 8 truck. Shell Starship 3.0 is said to have achieved improvements over the US average for diesel class 8 trucks of 2.542 times better freight tonne efficiency (FTE) assessed on a tonne-miles per gallon basis and 3.23 times better FTE assessed on a tonne-miles per kg of CO2e emitted basis. The Cummins X15NTM natural gas engine powered by RNG emits less CO2 than a diesel engine and further confirms to fleets the potential for different engine and fuel options to reduce CO2 emissions. RNG is a natural gas transportation fuel that can be derived from organic waste and is interchangeable with compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG) in transport vehicles. “Shell Starship 3.0 demonstrates the
power of innovation by incorporating a new natural gas engine complemented by today’s available technologies to help reduce emissions in the road transport industry,” says Dr Selda Gunsel, president of Shell Global Solutions and VP Fuels and Lubricants Technology. “Industry collaboration is critical in helping fleets achieve their sustainability goals.” Similar to its predecessors, the truck also included components and features that promote light weighting, low aerodynamic drag and low rolling resistance tyres. Shell Starship 3.0 operated using a low-viscosity Shell Rotella natural gas engine oil and Shell Spirax transmission and axle oils. Shell points out that low-viscosity lubricants require less energy to move throughout the engine while still providing the protection, efficiency and performance needed in harsh operating environments.
“Each Starship generation shows our current and future customers that we are leading the effort to empower fleets with real-world data that will help guide their decisions to help reduce emissions,” says Tom Mueller, general manager of Shell Commercial Road Transport Lubricants. “Shell Starship is a proving ground of how working together across the industry can lead the way to more sustainable solutions.” Since its start in 2018, Shell says the Starship initiative has showcased that innovation and collaboration throughout the transport industry can lead to exceptional results. The collaboration with Cummins for the driveline technology, Bridgestone for high quality tyres and Trillium (part of the Love’s family of companies) for renewable natural gas, was said to be vital to the success of the latest Starship.
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LIGHT JUMP STARTER FOR FLAT HEAVIES Projecta broadened its Intelli-Start jump starter range earlier in 2023, however two newly announced variants – the IS3000 and IS5000 models – are reported to be ideal for use on large industry and commercial equipment including heavy-duty trucks, tractors and agricultural equipment. Projecta says that, until now, there hasn’t been an easy or efficient means of jump starting heavy equipment, with users often
resulting to moving large batteries around on unwieldy trolleys to jump start the machines. With their easy portability, light weight (10.6kg and 13.5kg respectively) and patented Rapid Recharge Technology (RRT), the IS3000 and IS5000 industrial jump starters are said to alleviate these pain points, adding convenience and efficiency for users. The IS Jump Starter range also reduces the risk of being caught out
without charge when going to jump start a vehicle, as recharging the trolley rigs can often be forgotten. Projecta points out that by leaving the Intelli-Start jump starters connected to a vehicle’s battery once started, RRT can fully replenish the energy that was discharged during the starting process in just 40 seconds. This feature means that the Intelli-Start jump starters will then be ready to use in the next emergency without needing regular recharging. Projecta says this technology is unique to its IntelliStart jump starter range. The IS3000 is suitable for both 12V and 24V electrical systems and provides 1000A clamp power for 12V systems and 850A for 24V electrical set-ups, along with 3000 peak amps – it’s enough to start petrol and diesel engines up to 12L displacement in 12V machines and all 24V engines. The larger IS5000 has even greater clamp power with 1500A in 12V electrical systems and 1000A for 24V systems – in both cases peak amps are 5000. This output is sufficient to breathe life into petrol and diesel engines up to 16-litre capacity in equipment with 12V systems, and
unlimited capacity in the case of vehicles with 24V electrics. The two jump starters also offer ‘no battery’ operation and can jump start vehicles without a starter battery. Projecta states that both the IS3000 and IS5000 jump starters feature a strong exterior casing that uses a steel chassis and rubber over-moulded construction with integrated handle and concealed cable storage. Also ensuring reliability and safety are ‘no solder’, high current connections and solid 3mm clamp teeth, while an advanced all-in-one protection system prevents surges, short circuits and overheating in these units. Both models also boast auto sensing clamp connection, while operating this equipment is via the LCD display with real time updates. A further stated benefit of the new models is their ability to jump start vehicles and machines that use a variety of battery types including Lithium, Wet, AGM, Gel and Calcium. When it is finally time to recharge the IS3000 and IS5000, Projecta says this is done using the included docking station, which provides hassle-free benchtop charging. The Intelli-Start range is equipped with premium LiFePO4 batteries, said to be the safest lithium technology available. Additionally, the units feature an advanced, ‘all-in-one’ protection system that prevents surges, short circuits, and overheating.
when they realise what these trucks are capable of and their efficiency together with our digital services.” Scania’s latest electric trucks are offered as both rigids and tractors with both R- and S-series cabs available. Depending on range, weight operation, weather and driving style, a 27-tonne city tipper with six batteries can expect up to 350km between each charge. One hour of charging will then add 270km of range. Notably, a 130kW charger will add 100km of range in
one hour for a truck that uses 1.3kWh/km. “We are a bit stuck on the concept of always filling from 10 per cent to 100 per cent as we do with diesel,” Allard says. “With battery-electric vehicles the mindset should be to charge for the required range instead. if you have 120km to go to your home depot charger, it would be unnecessary to charge for more than that distance with some small extra margin.”
SCANIA BRINGS NEW ENERGY BY OFFERING NEXT LEVEL BEVS European truck manufacturer Scania has announced that production has commenced on its battery electric (BEV) R and S cabs with 400 or 450kW of engine power. The trucks are being built at Scania headquarters in Södertälje, Sweden. Scania first presented its next level of battery-electric zeroemission regional trucks in June 2022. However, the new BEVs are said to be the next level – electric trucks with power, range and charging capacity for effortless daily operations in a variety of urban and regional transport assignments. Major updates for Scania’s urban BEV solutions are also being introduced, with e-adapted chassis, new batteries and optimised auxiliary systems. All trucks are fitted with green battery cells supplied by Northvolt and with packs produced in Scania’s smart battery assembly plant in Södertälje. With updated urban battery
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electric vehicles including new green battery packs and e-adopted chassis, and services such as Scania Charging Access, Scania says its offer has now reached a maturity level that makes it attractive and relevant for a broad spectrum of customers, regardless of their transport assignments. Numbers released on Scania’s next level of regional battery electric trucks include gross train weights can be up to 64-tonnes with a range of up to 390km. The charging capacity is up to 375kW and the top power levels – 400 or 450kW (circa 610 hp) – are reported to be considerably higher than those sported by the majority of the conventional trucks out on the roads. “Apart from true long-haul operations, few buyers today cannot find what they need from an operational viewpoint,” says Fredrik Allard, senior vice president and head of E-mobility at Scania. “Sure, there are still certain applications that are less prone to turn electric in the near future, but many buyers will be amazed
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NO BULL Truck events keepin’ on
COVID and a lack of commitment may have seen the demise of some regional truck events over the last few years, but enthusiasm continues to run high, especially in Victoria. The Geelong Classic Truck & Machinery Show is returning on the weekend of January 13 to 14 in 2024. Always a great family event, it’s only 10 bucks for adults to get in, although if you’re bringing along your vintage pride and joy, admission is free. Also in Victoria, the Kyabram Mack Muster is back on March 16 and 17. Although the Kyabram event is held annually, it alternates between the Mack and White brands every couple of years. And, of course, in 2024 it’s Mack’s turn. If you’re suffering from Mack mania, Kyabram is the ideal place to get your fix.
The upcoming festive and holiday season brings with it another reminder about road safety. And for motorists, it’s being alert and aware
of sharing the road with trucks. An email received in OwnerDriver’s offices recently from a convicted motorist shows that, when there’s a collision between a truck and car, the car is almost certain to come off second best. The motorist, who still believes the truck driver was in the wrong, points the finger at one well-known trucking company (which for obvious reasons will not be named here, but we’ll call it Voldemort Transport). The email’s author, a heavy combo licence holder, claims to have been run up the backside by the Voldemort B-double, spinning her car into the path of an oncoming vehicle where two people were fatally injured. She claims the truckie initially fled the scene, but he later said that the car had caused the accident by driving up his left hand side and jumping in front of the B-double’s bull bar. The email’s author says she was never interviewed by police, who she says seemingly accepted the B-double driver’s account. There’s much more to this story, however what is known is the car driver spent 18 months in jail and, after release, lost her heavy vehicle licence for more than six years.
Big prize for young drivers The Livestock, Bulk & Rural
Transporters Association (LBRCA) is again calling for nominations for its Young Driver Award. The 2024 award will take place at the association’s conference on the last weekend of February in Wagga Wagga. It’s a fairly attractive prize as well,
with the winner receiving a $5000 holiday to the US, New Zealand or Western Australia. To be eligible, a nominee must be aged between 21 and 35 years and must be an LBRCA member or working for one.
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FOR THE OWNER-DRIVER Frank Black
Cost recovery a must There is widespread support for transport reform which won’t follow the imbalances of the old RSRT
wner-drivers are at the mercy of rising fuel prices which have become the difference between a job turning a profit or not. Overheads, as we know, are always tight for truckies because we have had no realistic mechanism for recouping these costs We should be able to function without overheads eating into our livelihoods. Managing competitive rates and fair remuneration is a balancing act, but it’s crucial that we get this right. This is why transport reform is required so we can have a system that works for us and the wider industry. Recently, requiring to fuel up in the eastern states, I noticed that fuel prices had spiked up to $2.30 with no real increase in our rates. We often hear about supermarkets blaming rising transport costs for the increase in the price of commodities, but in reality we don’t get to see these supposed increases at our end. Either the retailers are using transport as a scapegoat for ramping up their prices, or the increases they speak of are failing to filter through to those of us at the bottom of the supply chain doing the work. Recently, I gave evidence at the Senate Inquiry ahead of Federal Parliament voting on road transport reform. I talked about the issue with fuel prices as an example of why we need regulation to support cost recovery. Some of the testimony that was shared alongside mine on the road transport panel of drivers was harrowing. We heard from Robert Ireland, who back in the day turned
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to methamphetamines to stay awake for days on end to keep up with the pressure to keep driving back-to-back runs. He later ran a business where he went to great lengths to pay his drivers well and told them they must rest any time they need it. But he closed up shop a few years ago because it’s unsustainable to do the right thing in this industry. We also heard from John Waltis, an ex-employee of Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics, who talked about subbies owed up to $1.2 million each and 1500 employees who lost their jobs when the operator collapsed. Then we heard from an owner-driver courier delivering for Officeworks, who reckons his contract is under direct threat because he’s seen gig workers at DoorDash brought in to do the exact same work but without the same checks and protocols he has to abide by – and probably paid lower rates. And finally, we heard from the uncle of a food delivery rider who went under a truck most likely while trying to accept a job request from Uber on his phone. Uber is said to have denied all accountability, with claims that he wasn’t working for them at the time because he didn’t succeed in accepting the job before he died.
FRANK BLACK has been a long distance ownerdriver for more than 30 years. He is a former long-term owner-driver representative on the ATA Council.
“There are people who are against reform and want the status quo to remain.”
All of the testimony was really powerful and it showed how everyone is struggling to survive in this industry, whether an owner-driver, f leet operator, employee or gig worker. Overall, it was clear the senators understood what we were telling them – that this reform is urgent and will save businesses and lives. It was disappointing to see that some senators were rehashing old complaints about the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) rather than looking at what this reform is designed to do. The RSRT was good overall but the implementation of a controversial order caused an imbalance between the way f leet owners, owner-drivers and employees were treated. The main issue was that the order was made despite submissions from right across the industry advising against it. The other was that rather than correcting the order, the whole system was abolished. This was despite a report by the Government at the time that said the RSRT could have reduced truck crashes by 28 per cent.
The reform that’s been tabled in Federal Parliament this year has taken into account these lessons from the past and changes have already been made so there won’t be a repeat of these issues. The best part of the new reforms is the wide range of transport workers that will be covered, everyone from the gig workers in cities to truck drivers operating everywhere from the outback to the factories. Also, any decisions made by the Fair Work Commission will be informed by a Road Transport Advisory Group, made up of people from within the industry. Finally, there is time built into the system before an order becomes effective and for the order to be undone if it is found to be wrong for the industry. This means the whole system which is designed to make transport safer, fairer and more viable, won’t be ripped away if one mistake is made. The other thing that I find heartening is the great amount of support it has received from across the board, not just from owner-drivers, drivers and unions, but also industry associations and employers, from both big and small companies. We all need to be mindful that there are people who are against reform and want the status quo to remain as it keeps profits up, at the cost of workers or contractors. To this end there are people that are always happy to engage in scaremongering. We need to stay vigilant in order to counter this as it happens. I hope that people are motivated enough to get their information from the correct sources, rather than being too reactive to industry propaganda from those who stand to benefit from keeping things the way they are. Overall, I’m optimistic that getting this reform will deliver the necessary change that we need in this industry – to keep it safe for drivers and operators, and professional and viable into the future.
25/10/2023 10:07 am
TRUCKING SUPPLIES TRUCKS FOR WRECKING WAGGA WAGGA 334 Copland St, P.O. Box 2373, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650
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Trucking Supplies Wagga regretfully announces we will be shutting up operations at the end of this year. After 40 years of being one of Australia’s largest and most reliable truck dismantlers, the rising price of stock, staff shortages, and some of our valuable, knowledgeable staff retiring, we have decided to go out on a high. We would like to thank our valuable customers from throughout those years, whom without your support, wouldn’t had made us the company we are today.
Thank you to all our staff past and present, who have also made this journey possible. We wish you all the best for the future. From a small block to over 5 acres, we have grown in all those years, and can hold our heads high knowing that we helped support this great trucking nation of ours to keep Australia’s transport on the move. So, in preparation for the closure, Truck Supplies will be having a massive closing down sale of existing stock up until the end of the year.
Our parent company Royan’s continues to operate, and remains Australia and New Zealand’s largest commercial vehicle accident repairer, keeping transport on the move since 1944.
FREIGHTLINER C120 2000, RTLO20918B gearbox, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on airliner, aluminium bumperbar, cab parts, Alcoas. Wrecking. W2556. TA1188113. POA
MACK TRIDENT 2013, engine, M drive transmission, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on Hendrickson suspension, cab parts, hydraulics, aluminium tipper body. Wrecking. W2547. TA1170122. POA
WESTERN STAR 4900 1999, prime mover, Cummins Gen 2 engine,RTLO20918B gearbox, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on has, aluminium bullbar, cab parts, Alcoa, jost fixed turntable. Wrecking. W2553. TA1188112. POA
MACK VISION 2007, CCRS engine parts only, RTLO20918B gearbox, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on has suspension, drop on cab/sleeper, drop on bonnet, hydraulics, Alcoas. Wrecking. W2551. TA1176466. POA
FREIGHTLINER ARGOSY 2013, Detroit DD15 engine, RTLO20918B gearbox, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on airliner suspension, aluminum fups bullbar, cab parts. Wrecking. W2540. TA1158892. POA
MAN TGA26-480 2007, 480HP engine, ZF auto gearbox, airbag suspension, cab parts, bullbar. Wrecking. W2544. TA1170116. POA
FREIGHTLINER ARGOSY 2010, Detroit 14L EGR engine, RTLO20918AS3 gearbox, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on airliner, cab parts, fuel tanks, alcoas.Wrecking. W2527. TA1137354. POA
KENWORTH T408 2008, Cummins EGR engine, RTLO20918B gearbox, Spicer RT46-170 diffs on airglide 460, cab parts,fuel tanks, alcoas. Wrecking. W2528. TA1137355. POA
FREIGHTLINER CORONADO 2013, DD15 engine parts only, RTLO20918B gearbox, Meritor RT46-160 diffs on airliner suspension, drop on cab/sleeper, RTS A/C unit, Alcoas. Wrecking. W2552. TA1176470. POA
Once again, thank you for your patronage throughout the years.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE UPDATED DAILY
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10M x 20M x 3.9M (33’ x 66’ x 12’7”) Three 3.3M high roller doors plus a PA door. Ideal shed for a secure workshop (or man cave).
15M x 27M x 5.1M (50’ x 90’ x 17’) Heavy duty with a large industrial roller door and PA door. Perfect for storage, manufacturing or workshop.
MANUFACTURING LOCATIONS: MANUFACTURING HIGH GRADE SHEDS IN QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA & TAS
THE NOW BUILDINGS ADVANTAGE 100% Australian steel, 100% Australian made, 100% Australian family owned High tensile bolts & class 4 fasteners, gutters & downpipes included Site specific engineering, heavy duty connection & footing design High grade industrial strength materials and design
CALL ON 1300 491 839
JAMES 0413 104 820
JOHN 0437 699 111
TREVOR 0431 597 160
Images are from the Now Buildings range, for illustration purposes only. Imperial measurements are approximate. Shed price only. WA, NT & TAS slightly extra. Prices are based on collection, delivery extra. Extras pricing in bold is applicable at the shed purchase stage only. Extensions for existing sheds POA. Now Buildings will not be responsible to honour these prices once the total allocation has been sold. E&OE. Prices are Region A, Terrain cat. 2. Reg B slightly extra. *Now Buildings is not responsible for any changes made to tax legislation after the print deadline. You should consult your own tax advisors before entering any transaction.
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