Owner Driver 374 March 2024

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MARCH 2024 #374 FOR DRIVERS... THERE’S ONLY ONE CHOICE kenworth.com.au UNIQUELY 28 32 56 DEDICATED TO THE SUCCESS OF THE PERSON BEHIND THE WHEEL OWNERDRIVER.COM.AU FULLY CHARGED Benz eActros shows spark in Melbourne ’burbs run LOOPHOLES CLOSED Fair Work sets minimum standards Page 8 TRUCK OF THE YEAR Scania tops readers’ tally Page 16 ORANGE SPECIAL Outlaw Mack number 5 Page 32

Contents #374


“It was soon enough evident that Benz’s range claim was no hopeful exaggeration.”



Industry celebrates Fair Work amendments but questions remain over unreasonable contracts


The readers have voted … and the Eiffel Lubricants’ Truck of the Year winner is Tim McCarthy’s mighty Scania P320


Mercedes-Benz shows how and why the advent of electric trucks will go only one way –ahead!


Thousands of truck, tractor and car lovers rolled into the small coastal town of Tooradin to celebrate engines, chrome and, of course, trucks


John Dufty’s Outlaw Mack Super-Liner, number five in the series, handles its on-road and off-road duties with ease


Trucks aplenty headed into the Victorian rural town of Koroit in late January, surpassing previous years’ attendances


Volvo debuts its slippery FH Aero in Sweden while introducing a big bore D17 engine, taking it to the top of the power parade

MARCH 2024 56
4 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au

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Dawn of a new era

It’s a decision for the ages. The transport industry, or the majority of it, has become a united front with the passing of the Closing Loopholes bill in the Senate. In years past, truck drivers and owner-drivers have been seen as industry renegades, going back to the years of excessive road taxes, leading to the Razorback blockade in 1979.

Low safety standards, poor on-road facilities, inadequate subcontractor rates and tight deadlines have been a major deterrent for newcomers entering the industry. That, along with excessive road enforcement, is also accelerating the exodus of experienced truck drivers from the industry’s aging workforce.

Now with the Fair Work Legislation, or Closing Loopholes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those at road transport’s coalface, and the prospect for a level playing field among reputable operators. This should make for a safer and more attractive industry for anyone considering a career on the road.

In its legislation, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) points out that between the years 2016 and 2020, the road transport industry had the highest rate of fatalities of all Australian industries. It added that Australian truck drivers are also 13 times more likely to die doing their job than the average Australian worker.

In 2022, the legislation states that there were 185 truck-related fatalities on Australian roads, including 44 truck drivers. Adding to that are the 347 insolvencies in the road transport industry during the previous financial year.

One would hope that the combination of safety, fair rates and an end to dangerously unworkable contracts will see an end to ‘cowboy’ outfits dictating terms, once and for all. But will it?

Who’s to say that these dodgy operators will seek to ignore the legislation with a ‘nod nod, wink wink’ attitude to naive owner-drivers who may lack experience on the intracacies of truck driving and business but are desperate to earn a living?

Sure, the bill says it will allow independent contractors earning below a specified income threshold to apply to the FWC for dispute resolution in relation to unfair terms in services contracts to which they are a party.

But will the subbies be concerned that this action could lead to no work at all?

Let’s hope, with the FWC stating that the provision for these resolutions designed to provide a flexible, low-cost means of resolving disputes between independent contractors and principals, will ring in a new era of professionalism across the board for Australian road transport.



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6 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au BEHIND THE WHEEL Greg Bush 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. EDITORIAL Editor Greg Bush E-mail Greg.Bush@primecreative.com.au Journalist Alex Catalano E-mail Alex.Catalano@primecreative.com.au TechnicalEditor Steve Brooks E-mail sbrooks.trucktalk@gmail.com Contributors Warren Aitken, Robert Bell, Frank Black, Warren Clark, Geoff Crockett, Rod Hannifey, Michael Kaine, Gordo Mackinlay, Sal Petroccitto, Ken Wilkie Cartoonist John Allison PRODUCTION Art Director Bea Barthelson Print IVE Print ADVERTISING Business Development Manager Hollie Tinker Ph 0466 466 945 E-mail Hollie.Tinker@primecreative.com.au SUBSCRIPTIONS www.ownerdriver.com.au/subscribe Phone +61 (0)3
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Closing Loopholes Bill unifies industry

Industry celebrates Fair Work amendments but questions remain over the elimination of unreasonable contracts demands

After an almost two-and-a-half year long process starting with a government inquiry and featuring numerous convoys and industry-wide calls for reform, the Closing Loopholes Bill fully passed the Senate on February 8.

There were several amendments that had to be made to the bill, which had its major parts passed in December.

With the continued support of Senators Glenn Sterle and Tony Sheldon, the final piece of the puzzle was put into place with a vigil held on Parliament House in early February.

The bill was seeking to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) and related legislation to make a range of changes to workplace relations laws. These include those relating to defining employment; fair pay and security for employee-like workers; allowing the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to set minimum standards to ensure the road transport industry is safe, sustainable and viable; standing up for casual workers; and giving workers the right to challenge unfair contractual terms.

The passing of the Bill has been welcomed from a broad section of the Australian road transport industry, including the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO), the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA), FBT Transwest, the Transport Education Audit Compliance Health Organisation (TEACHO) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).

“The passing of this bill is a watershed moment for the transport industry which has united to push for regulation to enforce safer, fairer and more sustainable standards,” says TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

“This reform will save lives, will quell the threat of exploitative gig competition, and will make transport businesses more viable.

“When this reform comes into effect, gig economy workers will gain rights and protections that cannot be evaded by words in a contract or a classification label.

“This is a sophisticated, world first solution to a global industrial crisis. Australia is leading the way to eradicating century-old exploitation

that resurfaced under the guise of newfangled tech.”

Peter Anderson, ARTIO secretary, says he believes the legislation will bring positive change to road transport, adding that it is a triumph of unity.

“Unlikely allies came together over the shared goal to make transport fair, sustainable and viable,” Anderson says.

“Most significantly, this legislation will give us the necessary protections to stave off exploitative gig competition that threatened to take down traditional transport operators. If the industry remains united, the future is bright for the transport industry,” Anderson says.

Newly appointed NRFA president, Glyn Castanelli, says the passing of the Closing Loopholes Bill was a great step towards lifting standards for truck drivers just trying to get the job done.

“Minimum standards will give owner-drivers at the bottom of the food chain the ability to negotiate fair and sustainable work. This has the potential to be life-saving and life-changing for transport families across the country.”

FBT Transwest managing director Cameron Dunn points out that it’s the first time in decades that the road transport industry has come together and agreed on the way forward.

“A good business is a safe business. A safe business is a sustainable business.,” Dunn says.

“This is what this bill will deliver. It will allow people to come to work and go home safely.”

NatRoad president Warren Clark says everyone wants a safe and sustainable transport industry, while addressing the impact of losing operators to insolvency.

“This legislation must be sensibly implemented to help make transport more viable, boost productivity and support the economy,” Clark says.

“My members and I will be working diligently to drive those outcomes but we can’t do it alone. The entire industry and governments must work together to establish standards that will enable road transport to thrive.”

Clark, however, says NatRoad still has reservations about some aspects of the law including the so-called right to disconnect.

“We note the reference in the legislation to this applying to ‘unreasonable contact’ and that the Government has quite rightly committed to taking out the threat of criminal behaviour.

“Common sense must prevail with the way this is applied to the road transport sector, especially as safety is a fundamental consideration during long journeys.

“We have questions about the exclusion of livestock road transport from the new powers of the FWC which makes the regulatory environment much more complicated.

“We are concerned about the potential for drivers involved in the livestock freight task being exposed to the same unreasonable contract demands that Fair Work orders will be seeking to eliminate.”

Meanwhile, Michael Kaine says

there is little time to waste to purge the industry of deadly pressures to rush, skip maintenance and stay on the road too long.

“The industry unanimity that achieved transport reform must continue to get safer, fairer standards in place as soon as possible, he says.

s e en ess as   mem e s worked to win this legislation, we will work even harder with the rest of the industry to use the new powers.

“The Amazon Effect of unchecked supply chain pressure and exploitative gig competition stands no chance against a united industry ready to set enforceable minimum standards.

“In road transport, the union will work with an industry alliance of workers, employers, owner-driver representatives and employer associations to ensure applications can be made on day one of the legislation’s commencement on important matters which already have industry consensus.

“Dangerous practices such as elongated payment times that push unsustainable financial risk onto transport operators and owner drivers on wafer-thin margins will be first cab off the rank. Transport businesses slugged with repair bills, sky-high fuel prices, and ongoing operational costs are waiting months or even years for payment for jobs completed.

“This reform can save lives and businesses, and it can do it quicker if the industry continues to work together.”

8 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
Transport industry presented a united front in Canberra with the passing of the Closing Loopholes Bill. Image: TWU

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Driving Progress

Industry reset call over driver shortage

The immigration surge may seem like welcome news given the shortage of skilled heavy vehicle truck drivers in Australia, says Jamie Dixon, director of supply chain at TMX Transform, an end-to-end supply chain consultant. However, he says it’s in the area of long-haul road transport where the shortage remains persistent.

According to Dixon, the freight, logistics and supply chain industry accounts for 8.6 per cent of Australia’s GDP, and more than two-thirds of non-bulk domestic freight is carried on roads.

“Truck drivers are business critical,” Dixon says. “They are the glue keeping the country’s supply chains running. But inadequate staffing levels can represent major business problems with flow-on impacts, compromising service delivery, timeframes, and customer experience.

“Boosting driver numbers via

immigration is sometimes posed as a possible solution.”

Dixon says Australia’s migration rebound is well and truly here after years of closed borders across 2020 and 2021.

“For the 2022-2023 financial year, Australia net gained 518,000 migrants, with arrivals increasing almost two-thirds (73 per cent) compared to 12 months earlier. Not only are more migrants arriving, but less are leaving our shores, with migrant departures decreasing to 219,000 from 223,000 (2 per cent).

“But of the immigrants who find work in the road freight industry, most are entry-level, driving vans and small trucks.”

However, Dixon says the main issue is the shortage of long haul and heavy vehicle drivers, which he says are due to multiple contributors to this situation, including Australia’s ageing population.

the UK, with their supply chain, and therefore Brits, suffering the impact of shortages as a result.

“In Australia, the opposite is being touted as a saving grace –that an immigration surge may be the answer to the problem. But e n m e s on necessa back it up.”

Dixon says correcting the industry-wide capacity needs to include professionalising truck driving which may boost numbers and attract more candidates to the industry.

He says, according to Australia Industry Standards (AIS) and others, there are various heavy vehicle apprenticeships now available or in different stages of submission and review across states and territories.

“The average age of long-haul drivers is around 50, and the retirement age is mid-50s,” he says.

Dixon says, as of February 6, 2024, there were 20,473 truck driver jobs advertised on Seek.

Last year TMX completed a review of heavy vehicle rest areas for the not-for-profit Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds (HHTS) which aims to improve the wellbeing of national transport, warehousing, and logistics workers.

Dixon says TMX found there were many areas for improvement to attract workers to the profession, such as establishing a national heavy vehicle rest area strategy including a minimum set of standards for heavy vehicle rest areas.

“With about 200,000 truck drivers working in Australia, online job advertisements from just one website – which does not account for all required roles – are looking to increase the workforce by at least 20 per cent,” he adds. “Twelve months ago, the numbers were similar.”

Dixon points to the impact on trucking in the United Kingdom following significant immigration policy changes.

“The road and rest areas are the workplace of truck drivers, and they must be treated with the same level of attention as a white-collar office,” he says.

Road freight is expected to grow by 56 per cent by 2040 in Australia, the TMX report found.

“Brexit, the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, meant thousands of foreign truck drivers departed

“This is a challenge that will not go away on its own, but the businesses who rely on truck drivers can help shape the solution,” Dixon says.

10 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
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Above: Jamie Dixon, director of supply chain at TMX Transform supply chain director Jamie Dixon. Images: TMX Transform

Regulator takes on Queensland


will take a step further to national uniformity

when it delivers heavy vehicle regulatory services in Queensland from April 20

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) reports that it is on track to transition responsibility for delivering heavy vehicle regulatory services, including on-road compliance and enforcement, from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), on April 20 this year.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto OAM says the transition of services in Queensland will be a significant achievement for the organisation and will result in safer and more consistent regulation of heavy vehicle movements across Australia.

“The transition of heavy vehicle services in Queensland will complete our National Service Transition (NST)

program – a huge accomplishment for our organisation,” Petroccitto says.

“I am thrilled we are a step closer to achieving our aim, of having a consistent approach to compliance and enforcement from the roadside to interventions, borderless operations and delivering timely, national responses to critical compliance issues.

“The transition will result in a more streamlined approach to how heavy vehicles are regulated across Australia, a journey that will have taken the NHVR almost 10 years to achieve.

“From 20 April, on-road compliance, investigations, prosecutions and programmed heavy vehicle inspections will be some of the services currently

provided by TMR to transfer across to the NHVR.”

On transition, the Northern Region will be created within the NHVR’s Operations Division and will join Central and Southern Regions in leading on-road operational service delivery.

“This exciting milestone will see 165 roles added to the NHVR as part of our Northern Region, many of which will transfer across from TMR,” Petroccitto adds.

From April, the heavy vehicle industry can expect to see the NHVR’s Safety and Compliance Officers working roadside across Queensland, including in the far north and western areas of the state.

TMR spokesperson Joanna Robinson says the transition will end a 10-year journey for the NHVR and will

finally deliver a nationally consistent approach to regulating the heavy vehicle industry.

“TMR has been working closely with the NHVR, to ensure a seamless transition for all staff and customers,” Robinson says.

“We are currently advising our team that heavy vehicle regulatory services and those staff who have chosen to transfer, will officially transition to the NHVR on 20 April.

“TMR will continue to be directly responsible for delivering regulatory and compliance programs for several important services, including road manager functions.

Queensland is the sixth jurisdiction – after South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, Victoria, and New South Wales where the NHVR will be delivering heavy vehicle regulatory services.

MARCH 2024 11 ownerdriver.com.au
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Serious injury spurs WorkSafe action

The Transport Workers Union welcomes WorkSafe’s dogged investigation into transport worker’s horrific injuries at Perth airport

The Western Australia branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has welcomed the serious action taken by WorkSafe over the horrific injuries suffered by a union member struck by a forklift at a Perth Airport Toll yard.

The worker obtained permanent injuries to his foot and leg from the incident.

The union immediately investigated using a Right of Entry permit and involved WorkSafe over concerns the movement and speed of vehicles were not being properly managed at the site.

Three years on, WorkSafe’s investigation has resulted in the matter going to court with a maximum possible penalty of $2 million.

The TWU has spent decades campaigning for economic supply chain pressures to be addressed in transport so that workplaces –whether a yard or the road – are made safer.

TWU WA branch secretary Tim Dawson welcomed the seriousness with which WorkSafe has taken the incident to ensure the safety of transport workers.

“This was a horrific incident for our member and his family. No worker should be faced with life-changing injuries from simply doing their job and doing it right.

In a workplace, there should be no such thing as ‘the wrong place at the wrong time’ – safeguards must be in place to avoid accidents at all costs, particularly when vehicles are

involved,” Dawson says.

“Following this tragedy, the union involved WorkSafe to ensure the safety of transport workers at this site and at all transport yards across the state.

“We are reassured that the matter is being handled to the fullest possible extent to avoid any other family going through such a traumatic event.

“Transport is Australia’s deadliest industry. Cost-cutting pressures from wealthy clients at the top of the supply chain can lead to corners being cut in safety.

“In 2023, 235 people were killed in transport-related crashes, including 58 transport workers,” he says.

Dawson says transport is at breaking point and must be made safer and fairer.

12 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
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NHVR Sal Petroccitto

Access made easier

Advanced technology upgrades to NHVR Portal a win for industry and government

This year, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is continuing to redefine industry standards and strive toward safer roads, by providing the truck drivers with the most accurate network access information.

On December 20, 2023, we released our National Network Map – a significant milestone for our NHVR Portal and a game-changing tool for the heavy vehicle industry.

The NHVR Portal is a digital platform that transforms the way our organisation delivers its services and information to industry. Following the transition of state and territory network maps across to the Portal, we have been able to create a single-entry point for industry to access their heavy vehicle related information.

The NHVR is committed to providing all regulatory services through the Portal and has been working to transform it into a heavy vehicle business centre. We have been working closely with state jurisdiction and industry groups to ensure the Portal is the central and authoritative location for the heavy vehicle industry to map journeys across state and territory borders for their entire fleet.

With the map information that was held within each jurisdiction now available through the National Network Map, it is no surprise that the tool has already seen great success. By the end of January, 10,000

users had accessed the map since go-live, for a total of 28,000 map views.

Industry now have access to more comprehensive and consistent routing and network data and can more easily see where networks exist and opt to route accordingly.

While operators can search the National Network Map by state networks, one of its most innovative functions is the ability to search by ‘vehicle category’. Searching by vehicle category provides a vehiclecentred approach to finding networks and targets new users who may not be familiar with access instruments.

Within the map, vehicles are grouped according to configuration and sub-configuration. Current maps do not provide these full lists of eligible vehicles, requiring users to look up operator guides or the legal instrument itself, leading to misunderstanding of which networks truly apply.

Selecting from vehicle types and seeing a national scope of where the vehicle can access provides better visibility and improves fleet management decision-making.

With over 1,000 different vehicle

configurations included, and each associated with its applicable maps, this takes out the guess work for operators.


The National Network Map also includes direct links to operator guides, information sheets and legal instruments, making it easier for operators to access all the information they need to use a network.

became CEO of the NHVR in May 2014, bringing extensive knowledge of heavy vehicle policy, strategy and regulation to the role. Over the past seven years, Sal has led a significant program of reform across Australia’s heavy vehicle industry, including transitioning functions from participating jurisdictions to deliver a single national heavy vehicle regulator, harmonising heavy vehicle regulations across more than 400 road managers, and modernising safety and productivity laws for heavy vehicle operators and the supply chain.

Road managers are also able to access a self-service tool to manage gazetted networks and have the enhanced ability to manage disruption and publish safe updates to the network in real-time. This means during disasters, such as flooding, fires, border closures, road infrastructure challenges or significant accidents, updates can be more responsive.

These real-time updates mean a richer set of information is displayed on the National Network Map to help plan safer journeys.

There is a workflow built into the Portal for road managers to facilitate immediate updates to networks on the National Network Map and will be improved over time with Road Manager Network Management tools.

A huge amount of work has been undertaken to get to this stage, and I’m pleased the NHVR can continue delivering technology upgrades that support a safer and more efficient road network.

To that end, the NHVR has been delivering webinars and information sessions to industry and road managers, providing them with the tools needed to effectively use this mapping solution.

Recordings of these webinars can be found at www.nhvr.gov.au/road-access/ route-planner/national-network-map.

“Vehicles are grouped according to configuration and sub-configuration.”

The NHVR prides itself on being a modern, intelligence-led regulator – and these advanced technology upgrades to our Portal are consistent with this.

I look forward to updating you on the next advancements to this technology, as the year progresses.

The Portal and National Network Map can be found on the NHVR website at www.nhvr.gov.au/about-us/ nhvr-portal.

14 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
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truck of the year

Tim McCarthy’s mighty Scania P320 emerged as the top pick among the majority of OwnerDriver ea e   o e named 2023 Eiffel i an of the Year. Geoff Crockett writes


The sun was not quite up when OwnerDriver caught up with McCarthy Trucking’s Tim McCarthy at BP Officer Outbound, on the side of the Princes Highway in Victoria, to hand deliver his Truck of the Year trophy for 2023.

Tim’s Scania P320 proved popular with OwnerDriver readers who voted it number one against a strong line up of trucks ranging from Rafe Cornwall’s Western Star 48X, to the McMahon’s Kenworth T909 and Norm Bransgrove’s Diamond Reo.

This year’s Truck of the Month series was backed by the team at Eiffel Lubricants, and one lucky voter, Luke Keogh of Speewa, NSW took home 30 litres of Synthetic Engine Oil plus 30 litres of Mineral Gear Oil, valued at $1,011 ex GST.

For Tim, winning the Truck of the Year Award was certainly not expected.

“It’s a surprise, there were some great trucks this year,” he says.

“I’d like to thank those who voted for our truck. It’s been good to be a part of it.”

The truck, which Tim bought about two years ago, has caught the eyes of truck lovers and judges, most recently being named Best Rigid at the 2024 Tooradin Truck Show for the second year in a row. It’s also picked up

wins at Castlemaine Truck Show (2022, 2023), Alexandra Truck Show (Best Euro), Beaufort (Best Euro) and Boort (Best Specialised Vehicle).

For Tim, whose truck was named Truck of the Month in October last year, the past five months have been full of highlights.

He and his wife Ebony celebrated the birth of their second child Laylah in October 2023 too, a younger sister for their two-year-old daughter Addison.

On the work front Tim has continued hauling rainwater tanks for a Swan Hill-based business – a job that takes him all around Victoria and interstate.

The next stop for Tim after we caught up with him was to deliver to a customer in Leongatha, before heading back for re-loading, then home to Bendigo, and out again for the rest of the week for trips to northern Victoria and South Australia.

Asked about his most memorable trip so far, Tim says his first-time taking tanks to Kangaroo Island stands out.

“It was different, having to go over on the boat, and seeing the island,” he says.

“It’s a great spot”.

Tim, a qualified as a butcher, started a plumbing apprenticeship and ran his own car detailing business for a while before getting into his own trucking business. His life as an

16 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
“It’s a surprise, there were some great trucks this year.”

owner-driver is constantly evolving.

He says he has learned not to look into the business account randomly to see how things are going given the fluctuations that happen with the timing of payments coming in and expenses going out.

Rather, he’s found drawing a reasonable regular wage and trusting in strength of their business processes has enabled him to concentrate on providing quality deliveries for his clients.

It’s helped too, that Tim has been able to draw on the experiences of his father and grandfather who both spent many years working in the transport industry, running their own trucks. His grandfather ran log trucks out of Leonards Hill in Victoria, and his father grew his business up to small fleet, after making a start many years ago delivering light freight between Bendigo and Ballarat in an old Isuzu.

As for what’s next for Tim McCarthy, he says he’ll try and make it to a few more truck shows this year, if time and work allows – to catch up with friends and see what other drivers put on show.

He’ll also be aiming to home at nights as much as possible to support his growing family.

MARCH 2024 17 ownerdriver.com.au
Opposite top: … and the winner is: McCarthy Trucking Opposite bottom: Tim McCarthy was presented with his Truck of the Year plaque at the BP Truck Stop at Officer, Victoria. Image: Geoff Crockett Left: Tim McCarthy and the Scania P320 travel all over Victoria, as well as up into NSW and across to South Australia. Image: Warren Aitken


18 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
road test
It was becoming easy to think Mercedes-Benz might have dropped the ball in the push for electric truck ascendancy, but nothing seemed further from the truth after a recent drive in an eActros rigid model in and around Melbourne. In short, this is a battery electric truck ideal for life in the ’burbs and more to the point, shows how and why the advent of electric trucks will go only one way. Ahead! Steve Brooks reports

Like their counterparts at Volvo Group Australia, and probably most other prominent brands with plans for battery electric models, those responsible for Mercedes-Benz electric trucks in this country visibly wince when discussion drifts to an electric truck fire on Melbourne’s Westgate Freeway last November.

Rightly, their concern is that the high-profile coverage of a Kenworth conventional fitted with a locally developed Janus battery package spectacularly burning to the ground on a busy city road may have a detrimental impact on the acceptance and future prospects of battery electric trucks generally.

It didn’t help, of course, that social media’s array of ‘expert’ commentators came catapulting out of the closet with frenzied cynicism, seemingly ignorant of the effort and expense being poured into battery electric technology by the world’s most advanced and powerful automotive brands.

But hey, in the social media world, it’s the clicks that count. Why let facts ruin a good rant?

Anyway, the mere mention of the Janus event was ample motivation for Benz’s boffins to push a few salient facts as they presented details of the eActros battery electric range prior to a revealing test drive on the suburban streets and arterial roads of outer Melbourne. Facts like, in case anyone has forgotten, Mercedes-Benz (and to be fair, its continental contemporaries) takes safety rather seriously and it would be naive in the extreme to think that its battery electric models aren’t well endowed with a vast suite of advanced safety measures and likewise, haven’t been subjected to the most exhaustive safety tests imaginable.

As Mercedes-Benz’s e-mobility group manager Romesh Rodrigo pointed out, eActros models have an integrated shutdown system which works in concert with the extensive range of standard safety functions to effectively cut all power if an incident occurs. Moreover, the high voltage system can be shutdown either manually or automatically and each battery has an integrated battery management system. Externally, batteries are protected on both sides of the truck by solid side impact barriers while in the cab, there’s a fire detection and alarm box, and prominent in the cab close to the driver’s left is a manual shutdown button.

In commercial terms, however, the job now is to get eActros into the market after a somewhat stalled introduction since the preview at last year’s Brisbane

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Truck Show of an eActros 300 rigid model and its waste industry counterpart, the eEconic.

The newly minted director and vice-president of sales and marketing at Daimler Truck Australia, Andrew Assimo, cites a booming market and subsequent delays at bodybuilders as a major reason for an apparently slow start but equally, emphasises that the transition to battery electric trucks demands a steady, carefully considered approach by both the supplier and the customer.

Asked if delays had caused MercedesBenz to lose marketing momentum to arch rival Volvo’s high energy push with electric trucks, a smiling Andrew Assimo said almost dismissively, “Daimler Truck plays the long game”.

It was, however, a distinctly upbeat Assimo who asserted that customer interest in electric trucks is “incredibly high” and while keeping details typically close to the chest, signalled a major order for eActros from a high profile customer. A customer, we believe, based in Western Australia but again, he would not be drawn into further detail except to add that it will be one of the single biggest orders for electric trucks outside Europe.

And speaking of Europe, giant Swiss building materials producer Holcim has announced plans to add 1000 Mercedes-Benz eActros 600 LongHaul models to its European fleet in a large scale move to implement a comprehensive sustainability strategy. The eActros 600 is essentially a prime mover model, launched in Europe last October and while Mercedes-Benz’s local leaders are quick to confirm it is also part of their future plans, no timing has been given for the model’s debut on the Australian market.

Right now, Mercedes-Benz’s immediate focus is on the introduction of the mediumduty eActros 300 and eEconic, with product

planning manager Noel Griffiths reiterating that the transition to battery electric trucks requires a carefully considered, even cautious approach. It is important, for instance, to realise that a battery electric truck won’t suit every application and accordingly, MercedesBenz will closely monitor all enquiries to ensure that the application suits the truck, and vice versa.

What’s more, at this stage of evolution, battery electric trucks don’t come cheap. Currently, price is around 2.5 times more than an equivalent diesel model and likewise, there’s the cost of recharging infrastructure for either a fixed fast charging system or a portable, considerably less expensive alternative which takes significantly longer to recharge.

electric trucks and associated infrastructure commercially available.

Electric trucks are, of course, nothing new to Daimler Truck Australia. Fuso’s light-duty eCanter has been available for several years and with the latest generation now ready to hit the market, there will be a renewed push to see the evergreen Canter charge deeper into local distribution duties.

Again though, it’s the introduction of eActros and eEconic to the stable which adds the biggest charge to Mercedes-Benz’s battery electric ambitions, so far!

Lots to like

During a short but intense visit to MercedesBenz headquarters in Germany in the second half of 2022, it was blatantly apparent that like

“Purchase price will come down as demand and volumes increase.”

Either way, an adamant Andrew Assimo insists recharging infrastructure is the key to the future for battery electric trucks and says it is incumbent on governments to ensure the electricity grid is up to the task of recharging the increasing multitude of electric vehicles of all types.

Yet despite the exceedingly high initial cost of an electric truck at the moment, he declares that like all new technologies, purchase price will come down as demand and volumes increase. Meanwhile, in the transition process both now and in the foreseeable future, the involvement of Daimler Truck Financial Services will play a vital role in making

others, Daimler Truck was pursuing a twotier strategy for its stated objective to make all its new trucks in Europe, the US and Japan, CO2 neutral by 2039. In effect, creating a dual technology portfolio with battery electric trucks for shorter roles and hydrogen fuel cell models for long distance duties.

Hydrogen, of course, is still a long way off but battery electric, well, it’s here now and have no doubt, in the form of an eActros 300 in a 4x2 rigid role, it has the ability to surprise and impress in a big way. Huge!

In 2022 I’d briefly driven a 4x2 eActros on the roads around Mercedes-Benz’s massive Worth factory in Germany and no question, that

20 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au

short stint created a reasonably positive opinion. It was, however, bland compared to the stunning, surprising and quite astonishing impressions that came from a recent drive of almost 100km in an eActros 300 along the streets and arterial roads of metropolitan Melbourne.

In fact, without hesitation or anxiety but with fingers crossed in due regard for risks to reputation, I will declare that the eActros 300 is the smartest and indeed, most impressive truck in the 4x2 rigid class I’ve ever driven. Bar none! True, eActros and its ilk won’t be for everyone and commercial viability remains a question without distinct answers, but in terms of performance, smoothness, simplicity, comfort, safety and efficiency, it has no equal among the multitude of medium-duty rigid trucks this backside has ever sat in.

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Top: Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 and its eEconic waste specialist sibling made their Australian debut at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show. It took a while but Benz is now charging ahead with its electric truck plans Above: Schematic of the main components in a 6x2 version of eActros. The e-axle arrangement at the rear is a major advance
“From behind the wheel, it was soon enough evident that Benz’s range claim was no hopeful exaggeration.”

Said to be on sale from the second quarter of this year, the eActros 300 and its eEconic sibling are the first cabs off the rank in Mercedes-Benz’s push beyond the lightduty limits of eCanter. Later in the year, 6x2 versions of both eActros 300 and eEconic will be added along with a 4x2 prime mover version.

Obviously, the graphics on the cabs and curtains of the two e300 demonstrators signalled that these weren’t your average ’round-town delivery trucks despite a somewhat

standard gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of 16 tonnes for a 4x2 medium-duty rigid workhorse. Nonetheless, while gross weight for the exercise was at least realistic at 15.2 tonnes, there was no escaping a significant payload cost with tare weight around 10 tonnes. The simple fact is that batteries are heavy and payload is another of the issues which some will find difficult to defend in ‘for and against’ deliberations on battery electric trucks.

Technically, of course, the trucks are also entirely different to their diesel counterparts. For starters, there’s no driveshaft or conventional transmission. Instead, three large lithium-ion batteries, each spanning almost the full allowable width of the truck, feed power through high voltage electrical cables – easily identified by their bright orange coating – into an inverter which in turn sends power into an e-axle with two integrated, liquid cooled motors and a two-speed gear assembly.

It is, in fact, an extremely neat rear-end arrangement and sure, totally outside the realm of current normality but best of all, out of this powertrain comes continuous output of 330kW (443hp) and at its peak, 400kW (536hp). Consequently, the standard of performance in a truck of this size is, quite simply, brilliantly brisk and phenomenally strong.

What’s more, there’s what Mercedes-Benz calls a recuperation braking system. In simple terms, it’s an electric retarder and just as simply, it is stunningly effective. To quote Mercedes-Benz, the ‘five-stage recuperation braking system works like an engine brake to both spare the service (disc) brakes and recoup significant amounts of electricity, which is fed back into the batteries’.

Operated through a wand on the right of the steering column, it takes little time and practice to realise the retarder has the ability to do almost all the braking in either suburban traffic or quickly washing off speed on a freeway. Truly impressive and in the process, vastly extending the life of service brakes and critically, extending driving range by feeding energy back into the batteries.

According to Mercedes-Benz, range of the eActros 300 is, logically enough, around 300km but as the company points out, ‘exact range may vary depending on geography of the area, driving method, outside temperature, load and body, among other factors’. What’s more, the company asserts, ‘In our local testing, we achieved 300km with 20 per cent battery left when fully loaded.’

From behind the wheel, it was soon enough evident that Benz’s range claim was no hopeful exaggeration. It seemed, in fact, somewhat modest, even understated.

With the digital dash showing 76 per cent battery

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Above: On freeways or in the ’burbs, the performance, simplicity and smoothness of eActros is remarkable for a rigid workhorse Right: On the inside. Comfort, convenience and overall simplicity rate at the top of the tree


Proudly manufactured locally, Hamelex White prides itself on designing the strongest equipment in the business to give owners an unbeatable combination of payload, capacity and durability.

We continue to lead the way in PBS combinations, which when combined with our exceptional tare weights, deliver maximum productivity.

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“Overall, eActros is easy to view as a milestone model in the evolution and ultimate acceptance of battery electric trucks.”

charge as the e300 glided quietly out of a Mercedes-Benz facility in Melbourne’s south-east, the truck was run for several hours through undulating ’burbs and backblocks before finishing with a freeway sprint. All up, 94.5km of stop/start traffic, suburban shuffling and freeway cruising before returning with 53 per cent of battery charge still available.

In short, more than enough to suggest that 300km driving range is easily achievable, aided and abetted by the effectiveness of a retarder which contributes so much to the electric Benz’s overall performance.

Most appreciably though, it’s the sheer simplicity and ease of driving an unquestionably advanced and efficient truck that most captures the imagination. Driving a medium-duty around-town workhorse just doesn’t come easier than this.

Sure, like a diesel truck, a heavy right foot and aggressive acceleration will have a detrimental influence on energy consumption but unlike a diesel truck, constant application of the retarder effectively puts fuel back in the tank.

Of course, with no mechanical mass pulsing under the cab, eActros is exceedingly quiet inside and out, making the standard inclusion of an ‘Acoustic Vehicle Alert System’ a smart move by Mercedes-Benz, providing an audible warning to pedestrians and the like at speeds up to 60km/h.

Likewise, it’s no surprise that Mercedes-Benz’s extensive suite of safety features includes provides further protection through its advanced emergency braking system along with twin ‘Side Guard Assist’ radar functions to detect cyclists, pedestrians and cars when the truck is making a left-hand turn.

Notably, the second generation of Mercedes-Benz’s MirrorCam system is standard in eActros and whereas the digital mirror’s suitability for longer combinations such as B-doubles is highly questionable, its suitability

for shorthaul roles on a rigid truck is far more appreciable.


Overall, eActros is easy to view as a milestone model in the evolution and ultimate acceptance of battery electric trucks.

Shorthaul suburban applications are typically the working sphere of light and medium-duty rigids and at this stage of its development, that’s exactly where eActros 300 fits.

Again though, battery electric trucks are not for everyone and despite the attraction of ultimately consigning fossil fuel costs and environmental impacts to oblivion, the practicality and expense of transitioning to battery electric models remain prohibitive.

It will, therefore, be a slow road to greater acceptance and more to the point, commercial viability.

Yet here’s the thing: No matter where you are or what you think, tomorrow is on the way.

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Above: MirrorCam is standard on eActros 300. Its practicality for longer combinations like B-doubles is highly questionable but this second generation version is well suited to shorthaul rigid work

Resetting road safety

Ending unrealistic deadlines a safer step forward

It’s an obvious statement to make but I’ll make it again and again because it’s glaringly true: We all want safer roads. It doesn’t matter if you’re a truck driver, motorist, emergency services first responder, nurse or doctor.

Australia had a horrific road safety outcome in 2023. For the full year, deaths rose seven per cent on 2022 levels to hit 1266. The last six months of 2023 proved the deadliest in 13 years. The National Road Safety Strategy aims to reduce annual deaths by at least 50 per cent by 2030.

We are not on track to meet that target. Instead, we’re going backwards.

The introduction of minimum standards for road freight operators – and ending practices that impose unrealistic deadlines on truck drivers at the expense of safety – will make a

profound difference. In the immediate term, there are other things that need to happen – now!

NatRoad has long called for the standardisation of the way road crash data is collated across the states and territories, and the sharing of it.

At the time of writing, we were heartened by Federal Transport Minister Catherine King flagging a national data sharing agreement that is finally being put in place. You can’t plan for what you can’t measure and having nationally consistent data will be a massive step in the right direction.

NatRoad is already engaging closely with key partners on the data, and causes of heavy vehicle related crashes, to ensure our own policy priorities and advocacy is evidence based.

NatRoad has repeatedly backed calls for no fault heavy vehicle crash

investigations to improve the data and understanding of underlying causes of crashes. This would not replace existing police crash investigations and only occur where there may be a safety lesson to be learnt.

This is already a critical part of the way the Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigates other transport modes.

Governments need to take a long, hard look at the evidence about the causes of road crashes and reset our approach to road safety. Of course, preventing road trauma is more than just numbers.

NatRoad has long advocated that Australia needs a better on-road culture. Embedding greater respect for heavy vehicles and their place on the road is an integral part of this. Light vehicle drivers need better education and training in basic on-road behaviour. Things like leaving enough space for heavy vehicles to steer around obstacles and brake safely.

So, let’s make heavy vehicle awareness a mandatory part of license testing in every jurisdiction.

Let’s educate our kids in schools, before they go anywhere near a driving instructor, that they share the road with heavy vehicles and other road users.

In addition, improving road design is a no-brainer. Road safety for all Australians is why NatRoad continually calls for governments to build better roads and make infrastructure funding more effective.

MARCH 2024 25 ownerdriver.com.au
NATROAD Warren Clark
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. Melbourne (03) 9305 9400 Absolute Competence Genuine care of your business The Easiest process to obtain finance Free Assessment Available on our website at www.allfreightfinance.com.au Or call one of our qualified brokers for an assessment over the phone  Deal with one Broker, Simple! OVER 20 YEARS IN EXPERIENCE FINANCE PROUD SPONSORS OF 2023 AUSTRALIAN SUPER TRUCKS RACING SERIES • EQUIPMENT FINANCE • RAISING WORKING CAPITAL • OVERDRAFTS • PRIVATE SALE EXPERTS IS YOUR BANK GIVING YOU THE RUN AROUND? NOTE SURE WHO TO TURN TO? GIVE US A CALL. Ainsley Cutts 0413 111 511 Donella Cutts 0433 002 211 Patrick O’Keefe 0433 002 204 Richard O’Kee e 0410 667 523 Image: sirisakboakaew/Adobe Stock

Regulator expansion

As the NHVR moves north, will enforcement now tackle those further up the corporate ladder?

In breaking news, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is transitioning to enforcement operations in Queensland in the first half of 2024. Hold on to your hats Queenslanders, things are about to get real. The Regulator has been established in Newstead, Queensland since the commencement of The Law, so we suppose it is all about time they persuaded the home jurisdiction of the Law to take on their brand.

Those of you travelling through other participating jurisdictions will have had various experiences in some way or another of that particular brand of enforcement. Combine that with the various Police Forces and Services, the transport industry is subject to enforcement of some ferocity.

We also hear that The Regulator has established a new unit that is set to target businesses they believe are not complying with the broad responsibilities required under the various Safety Duty aspects of the law. We have been hearing about the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ ad nauseam for years now. The word around the traps is that it might start to get enforced in the spirit which was created.

Many of you who will have heard about a high-profile transport company manager being jailed for five years with a non-parole period of 12 months. We understand this decision as being appealed so we will leave it at that, however, the decision stands at this point in time.

Various prosecuting authorities also rely upon some recent decisions that add some considerable judicial authority to their enforcement policies. The NSW Supreme Court decision of Transport for New South Wales v De Paoli Transport Pty Ltd [2022] NSWSC 1678 in December 2022 has now become the ‘go to’ for The Regulator and other enforcement authorities. This was a decision where Transport for New South Wales appealed against the leniency of sentences imposed by a magistrate, in respect of the Company, a director and an employee for a breach of section 26 of the HVNL.

In his decision, His Honour stated at [76-77]: “It is an agreed fact that those failures exposed the drivers of the heavy vehicles and the public to a risk of death or serious injury as a result of drivers losing control of their heavy vehicles … The failures

were not minor or merely in relation to documentation. [77] Integral to the responsibility of an operator of a heavy vehicle is the obligation to take steps to ensure that its drivers are properly trained in managing driver fatigue. This does not merely involve training drivers how to fill out their logbooks but ensuring that drivers understand how to manage fatigue. Again, this necessarily must involve having adequate systems in place to ensure that drivers were both not speeding and were properly managing fatigue issues. Again, any such systems must ensure that drivers were not driving in breach of their work/rest hours”.

What this means in practical reality is that companies will now come increasingly into focus if their drivers breach provisions of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). At present, many transport companies have to wait for weeks before they see the yellow copies of the driver’s work diary pages. Much can happen in those ensuing weeks, and prosecuting authorities now believe this is simply not good enough.

God forbid that a driver had an accident or incident, as this will most probably initiate an investigation whereby the authorities will have

ROBERT BELL, together with his team of legal professionals, are Highway Advocates Pty Ltd, a legal practice focused on heavy vehicle drivers and operators. It is their unique ‘Industry Insider’ advantage that keeps them at the forefront of this area of law. Robert’s experience in the transport industry, coupled with his insight, is a guiding force for the team of legal professionals appearing in Courts all around Australia, achieving outcomes that consistently exceed expectations. Highway Advocates are lawyers to the heavy vehicle industry, keeping you on the road where you belong. Contact Highway Advocates on 1300 238 028 or send your court notices and enquires to info@ highwayadvocates.com.au

statutory power to turn everything ‘upside down’.

For most small to medium transport companies, there is a relatively simple solution that will allow transport company managers and owners to sleep comfortably, in their own beds, secure in the knowledge that their drivers are operating compliantly.


The solution … throw those paperwork diaries away. This does not mean throwing them out the window before you approach a weighbridge of course.

It is no secret Highway Advocates have partnered with Logmaster since our inception almost three years ago. We have stuck with them because, apart from the exceptional products, their customer service is second to none. If you or one of your drivers has a problem, they are only a phone call away.

A Regulator-approved Electronic Work Diary (EWD) takes the guesswork out of for drivers while giving them back the work and rest hours that traditional work diaries steal from them. Many of you will not realise that using an EWD also gives you an extra eight minutes of work time for every period of work. Add all that up, it gives you a working day that a traditional work diary cannot.

Logmaster also provides a Fatigue Compliance Module, which gives transport company owners and managers the ability to reduce their administrative burden while at the same time monitoring their drivers work and rest hours in real time.

Logmaster’s new Mass Compliance Module fulfils a similar function, preventing operators from being exposed to massive penalties, five times higher than those applied against individual drivers for the same offence.

“We have been hearing about the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ ad nauseam for years now.”
Image: bernardbodo/Adobe Stock

With just about every offence under the HVNL offering the opportunity to apply for an Enforceable Undertaking (EU), Highway Advocates, as an incorporated legal practice, is constantly evolving. Apart from our primary focus on court advocacy, we are now branching out to provide solutions for drivers and operators to ensure that they never have to set foot inside a courtroom.

Remember, the primary principles of the HVNL are to ensure public safety. Some of the other primary principles are to ensure The Law promotes industry productivity and efficiency in the road transport of goods and passengers by heavy vehicles; and encourages and promotes productive, efficient, innovative and safe business practices.

Highway Advocates, Lawyers to The Transport Industry, are helping to keep you on the road where you belong. With our partners, we are now helping you stay in business, to do what you do best compliantly.

Call us on 1300 ADV0C8 (1300 238 028) or 0488 01 01 01.

Remember, we are always busy or in court and may not be able to answer your call, so if you have a court notice or other legal issue, email us at info@ highwayadvocates.com.au

26 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
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Thousands of truck, tractor and car lovers rolled into the small coastal town of Tooradin on January 20 to celebrate engines, chrome and the first truck show of 2024. Geoff Crockett writes

Tis the sort of event you hear going on, even before you make it to the gate to see what’s happening inside. Born out of the sport of tractor pulling and held at the official Tractor Pull Stadium at Tooradin, the heart of the show involves heavily modified tractors and cars being strapped to a weighted sled on a long dirt track then travelling as far as possible in a straight line before the weight of dirt backed up against the sled’s blade forces them to stop. The vehicle that travels the longest distance – wins.

While the tractor pull contest sends local seabirds flying skywards startled by the roar of the V8s, the popular burnout sessions at the burnout pit see parents reaching for ear mufflers for their kids and fanning away clouds of rubber smoke with smiles all round as they try to catch a glimpse of the cars spinning wildly for everyone’s entertainment.

For the truck lovers, a third of the grounds for the event have been given over to a celebration of trucks and transport, bringing drivers and their vehicles from all over Victoria and beyond.

Committee member Danii Reeve, who also has a

More than 6,800 people attended this year’s 25th incarnation of the event, and Danii expects the committee will have more than $50,000 left after costs this year to donate to a range of local community groups who not only help out on the day, but also provide ongoing support to the local community each and every day.

Since 2016, the event has donated more than $100,000 to local organisations including the primary school, Koo Wee Rup Men’s Shed, and local sporting clubs.

“We are only getting bigger! And we’ve already started planning the 2025 event,” Danii says.

For the truck drivers and owners who made their way to this year’s event it was a chance to share the pride they have in their vehicles with other likeminded enthusiasts, to catch up with friends, and to put the names of their businesses out there in the local market.

Dean Notman, of Notman Transport, brought along

28 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
tractor in the competition with fellow committee member and tractor puller Matt Reeve, says the show continues to grow each year, increasing its ability to give back to the local west Gippsland community. he Tooradin Tractor Pull and Truck Show
truck events

his 1973 Atkinson hoping to attract potential buyers for the truck itself and also to be part of his local show.

A qualified baker, Notman says he had taken the long road back to the transport industry.

He grew up with his father and grandfather in the game and had opted to learn a different trade, only to find himself drawn back to trucks after years of early starts in the bakery game. He likes the older trucks and is looking for his next project to get stuck into.

Attending the show was a family affair for Courtney Cartage. With two trucks on show, Mick, Molly and Fiona Courtney were never too far away from the pride of their fleet, a 1997 Scania 450 with a big V8, custom bull bar and high shine on show.

Mick says the family tries to get along to three or four truck shows a year to support the organisers and bring something a bit different along for people to look at, “even though I cop it a bit for driving a Euro”.

For amateur truck photographers Melissa and Mark Eldridge and Craig Johnson, Tooradin offered plenty of subjects for their lenses.

The trio were taking their time checking out the hundred or so trucks on show, chatting to drivers they’ve met before and looking for new angles to shoot photos from, including some with Western Port Bay in the background. They showcase their work under the names Make a Mile Photography and Big Aussie Truck Vids (on YouTube).

Chrome dreams

Andrew Humble, who spends his days working on truck bodies, came along with his son Dylan, to check out the chrome and modification work on the trucks.

The duo, who were admiring the Blue Mule Kenworth when OwnerDriver dropped by, said they were enjoying the atmosphere of the event and the variety of trucks on show.

Among those trucks was a stunningly well-maintained 2001 Kenworth T404 driven by Stewart Turner for South East Organic Fertiliser.

While the truck may well be 23 years old, the shine on the paint and the chrome, and the absolutely immaculate condition of the interior have it looking like it’s just rolled off the showroom floor.

For Turner, who has returned to driving for the company after a couple of years away, the pride in his truck is palpable.

He says the business provides him with a truck to look after, and he takes that job seriously, to the point where there are no shoes allowed in the cab.

Hauling chicken poo and fertiliser all week across dusty farms and dirt roads sees the truck looking worse for wear pretty quickly – but Turner says he aims to always turn up on a Monday morning with a pristine truck, ready to represent the business well and to get working again.

Outside of checking out the trucks, visitors to this year’s event were spoilt for choice when it came to activities.

A local business had set up helicopter flights over Western Port Bay and the local coastline from a neighbouring paddock, and food vans offered all manner of tucker to keep the hunger pangs away.

Classic memorabilia, information on new trucks and all the gear from Kenworth’s range of retail products could be bought at the grounds, along with information about new trucks from local dealers.

The show kicked off at 10am and rolled on until 10pm, with the stands filling up later in the afternoon to watch the action on the tractor track as teams such as Russian Devil, Sledgehammer, Disorderly Conduct, Woteva, Flat Stick and Plum Crazy fight it out for glory in their categories.

An aerial performance by a local stunt plane group drew plenty of attention in the afternoon, and the kids’ corner, with rides and activities saw a constant stream of activity throughout the day.

MARCH 2024 29 ownerdriver.com.au
Clockwise from top left: Stewart Turner with the 2001 Kenworth T404 he drives for South East Organic Fertiliser; It was a case of bonnets up for Ashmore Excavations fleet of smart-looking Kenworths; Doolan’s Cummins-powered K200 looked very tidy; Modern Towing and Salvage brought along a few of its impressive recovery vehicles, just in case of breakdowns; Dylan Humble and Andrew Humble with the Blue Mule Kenworth; German engineering on show at Tooradin Opposite top: Despite the Tractor Pull causing much excitement, the crowds also flocked to admire the large display of the trucking industry’s finest Opposite bottom, left to right: It was a tight squeeze at Tooradin as far as parking was concerned; John Turner and son Billy Turner brought along a Turner Express 2020 Kenworth T909

The truck our office

During COVID, truckies were held in high esteem as they kept the country moving, but not now

The 17th National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) conference was held at Shepparton on Saturday, February 10 and was a resounding success with a large rollup of guests and excellent speakers. However, with the passing of the Closing Loopholes legislation in Parliament during the week, some of the serious debate, had it still been in process, wasn’t needed and some guests had changed plans.

Members of the NRFA executive who have been supportive of the bill and spent days in Canberra, not just this past week, but many times before involved in many meetings, were of course elated. I thank those who put in an enormous effort at great personal cost to see this get up and the rights of drivers and owner-drivers to get a fair go, be finally actioned.

This of course is just the start. There is much more work to be done to make the legislation effective and workable and to see it achieves the aims of all those who have supported it. Nothing is simple and there have of course been those who have opposed it. From where I sit, this is for those who are getting screwed by big companies wanting transport for little and not caring about those who actually do the work. If you have good work and get paid well for it, this legislation should not affect you, but if you are being asked to do work at below cost or told to cut your rates with everything else going up around you, there will be a mechanism to fight with.


Years ago, the industry came together, mostly at the owner-driver level and fought to get a fair go. Razorback did achieve some important changes but was eventually undermined by others. Since then, we have sought improvements in our lives on the road and as many of you have said, little has changed since. We are still trying to get the road recognised as our workplace and have those roads safe, not just for us but for the motoring public as well.

We have asked for decent rest areas and facilities and, at this point in time, we are going backwards. We were treated terribly during COVID, particularly by those in authority, punished and abused, and not allowed to eat a meal at times. Yet, when things ran out, all of a sudden we were important. Of course, as soon as the worst was over and we had kept working and delivering everything to everyone, we were then forgotten and ignored again.

We have roadhouses closing, kitchens closed down or shutting early and yet we are still expected to deliver it all. We have some new roads, some of which were flood affected, while staff shortages affected roadhouses. We have more

“We have lost more parking as towns were bypassed.”

trucks, cars and caravans on the road, yet we have lost more parking as towns were bypassed and many spots that were available have been replaced by just a few.

Many road ‘improvements’ took away shoulders, the wire rope end-to-end on the Hume in Victoria meant there were few places to stop if you needed to. Look at Rockhampton, spend a million and halve the truck parking – what a terrific way to spend money.

Go to the Territory. Nice bitumen bays with purple bins, no shade or a toilet in sight and you can’t even park on the shoulder in most to use the facilities for car and caravan drivers.

I have recently seen Loves in America, a chain of truck stops which will spend a billion dollars this year on upgrades and new sites. There is Federal money there too for truck rest areas, but few are willing to build them.


At the conference and, although unable to attend, we had a video from Assistant Minister Carol Brown who announced the approval of the first four rest area projects through the Heavy Vehicle Rest Area Steering Committee (HVRASC). One each in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. The Victorian one is for a number of highways and green reflector bays, but now we just need them done nationally to fill the gaps until we can get some more rest areas built. I am still pushing the use of stockpile sites.

Sal Petroccitto, CEO of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), following my approach, also announced at the conference that hopefully in April, the NHVR will start a trial of leaving NSW weighbridge sites open for us to check weight. Two sites will be trialled and, if successful and all goes well, it is hoped it will be extended to others.

I had raised the issue of Broadford currently being gated off and was told they are waiting for parts to do repairs to the bridge there. My concerns that every weighbridge upgrade in NSW had led to sites gated off when not in use, further loss of possible parking, even just as overflow, and that allowing us to check weigh loads in transit can only improve safety and compliance. You won’t be able to fix it there obviously, but you will know for next time, be able to inform and/or educate your customers if they have not given you correct info.

There will be surveillance cameras to deter any stupidity or vandalism, but they will not video you and send you a fine in the mail. Most of you would also know by now, Transport and Main Roads (Queensland) will be taken over in April, leaving the NHVR now running all states for heavy vehicle enforcement except for Western Australia and the Northern Territory, but they are still working together on some things. A new Tassie system for route approvals may be the next big thing from NVHR in the future. The NRFA AGM was held on the Friday night before the conference and Glyn Castanelli, who has been vice president, was voted in as president. I will remain on the board as immediate past president and continue to do what I can for those of us on the road.

30 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
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 past president of the NRFA. Contact Rod on 0428 120 560, e-mail
com or visit
Green reflectors on the Hume, Victoria. Image: Greg Bush

Watershed moment

The road transport industry is celebrating the landmark reform that passed through the Senate

It’s one to remember. It was the day transport reform passed the Senate in Federal Parliament.

Decades of work from thousands of people had led to that moment.

I had the immense privilege of sitting in the Senate gallery alongside transport workers and industry representatives who’ve spent years fighting for fairer, safer transport.

They’ve come to Canberra countless times to urge politicians to listen to their stories and the need for change. Many have lost workmates and friends to the industry. Finally, some said to me, now I can retire.

To spend years fighting for a better industry and know that you won’t see the benefits of it yourself – that’s the kind of passion people have for this reform, and it shows you the hope for what road transport can and will be. It shows you the resilience and the grit of the people in the road transport industry.

Last year I said it would take everything we had to get this over the line. And this industry has given everything it’s got.

It has taken years, and it has taken numerous setbacks. Those setbacks were not for nothing – they became opportunities to regroup, to come back stronger and more united. And that’s exactly what has happened.

It has taken courage and determination to sit down as an industry and figure out how to make this work for everyone. But ultimately it has brought us to the point where we can say: “Transport reform has now passed and will become law.”

It was a watershed moment for the transport industry in Australia – but also for the rest of the world. This legislation is world leading. It is a sophisticated approach that would not have been possible without contributions from the entirety of the industry.

This legislation will give us the tools to save lives and businesses, and we will be leading the way globally to do it. It will make this industry safer. It will make it more viable to be an owner-driver or operator. It will quell the threat of the gig economy which has been threatening the whole road transport industry as we know it.

It’s hugely important that gig workers –who don’t even receive a minimum wage, and can be deactivated at any time – are included in this legislation. Without them, wealthy clients like Amazon and Aldi would have found another loophole to exploit drivers and operators.

It’s legislation that gets the balance right.


Thousands of people have had a hand in this moment, but some have truly gone above and beyond to make this happen.

Senator Tony Sheldon has worked tirelessly to get this over line – those efforts span decades.

Senator Glenn Sterle’s Senate Inquiry into Road Transport has been a pivotal part in this. The Inquiry heard from 150 witnesses over two years, all while the Coalition was turning a blind eye to the decimation of the industry.

It has brought together the industry like never before. I want to congratulate the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation, the National Road Freighters Association, NatRoad, the state trucking associations, and the transport operators who have supported the calls for reform.

To have a delegation made up of all of these people, as well as workers from across the industry, is hugely powerful.

Transport clients like Woolworths and Coles, and even gig companies Uber, DoorDash and Menulog have also backed in this reform.

BELOW: Hi-viz vests and shirts recognised those who died in transport-related accidents during 2023.
Image: Transport Workers Union
“This legislation will give us the tools to save lives and businesses.”

I want to, of course, congratulate the workers – many of them owner-drivers –who have campaigned so hard to make this industry better. To the Transport Workers Union (TWU) members and delegates who have relentlessly pushed for this moment: we would not be here without you.


It’s sobering to remember that there are many who have been killed either working in this industry, or as casualties of the crisis which grows with every passing day. Two days before the passing of the legislation, we held a vigil to commemorate the 54 truck drivers, four gig workers, and 177 members of the public killed in truck crashes in 2023.

As we laid out hi-vis vests to remember truck drivers, and white shirts for others who were killed, it was dreadful to think of how many others have been affected by their loss. Over 200 people killed in one year – 200 people who had families, friends, communities. Multiply that by a similar amount every year and it’s not hard to see how almost everyone has been touched by the crisis in this industry.

I’ve heard workers who’ve been drivers for decades say they don’t want to go to any more workmates’ funerals. Not only that, they’re worried they might be the next.

It’s important for us to keep remembering those who have been killed on our roads. We’ve seen the most incredible courage of family members of those who’ve been killed, calling for reform so it doesn’t happen to someone else’s brother or sister or son or daughter. For grieving families, and for all those terrified for their loved ones on the road, this reform is a turning point for a safer future in transport.

Their stories remain with us because we know if this industry keeps on going down the same track, we will lose even more.

But just as important is the hope we have to keep for a better future for this industry. It’s that hope which has driven us forward and to this point, where soon we will be able to begin putting in place minimum standards for workers and operators around the country.

This legislation brings us a step closer to a safer, fairer, more sustainable industry.

It’s time to push on with the job of making that happen.

MARCH 2024 31 ownerdriver.com.au
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. twu@twu.com.au
TWU Michael Kaine


One quick test drive in an Outlaw Mack was enough to convince John Dufty that a stunning, spruced-up Super-Liner would not only fulfill its on-road and off-road duties but look like a million bucks as well. Warren Aitken checks out number five in the Outlaw Mack series

32 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au truck of the month
MARCH 2024 33 ownerdriver.com.au
“We just like to plod along and get the job done.”

We come o m e s c n s o s o . s s a of a c a en e fo me as m na a oc eans mo e o a s e co n ess a n . e fo s fea e s o am a em n o ee e s o an s ee . ns ea of m en ess am n am e n e o s of e . a na s famo s a e s n o e c e a n s a o san o s a e o e e s of s s o . on e me on sn e on a e an n o sa eca se o. mean s oo a e c a e me o s s o . s a a one of e coo es m e e on ac s a o n . en o a e e fam c n com an a ns s s nn n a ac e f fam . s a fam s ee e n c n s o an a fam a e om ses o sc oo a es an m . e a e a sma o n a en c s a an fam . e o fo e comm n e fam an fo e f n of . e s a a f om a en on an a o o na s s e me. nfo na e e sma fam com an as s one of e coo es ac e ne s on e oa an fo o af c ona os e me e s can e en e . e ea ma e o n f e man o s ee s o e

ne ac a an e fam ans o com an s a o foc s mo e on e c an e com an . e on no ma o s n of n m o n mo e fo o n a n an e s a osse o n s a es. e e no m c fo a en on e s e o o a on an e e o one. n e s of a a eemen e me s ne a e s o on o e o o s s nn n c . o n f e a o n c s ac o s an a n s co n . s ass on fo c n s a e a ac en e co a eac e e a s. o e s o an enco a emen of s a en s an e e of s fe o e

34 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
Top: In a rare photo opportunity, John Dufty takes a work break from piloting his stunning Outlaw Mack Super-Liner Above, right: The 685hp is more than enough for the big farm truck. It does get used though with John predominantly pulling double road trains the Mack uses all those horses Opposite, top: Not having a stick beside him was one of the things John Dufty was unsure of, but in the end, he has fallen in love with the Mack Auto box. With the extra crawler gear the truck is perfect for all applications Opposite, bottom: All the Outlaw Macks take the same cool lines and design, it’s only the colours that change

runs the company started by his dad many years before.

The family transport company is based in the small country village of Bellata, NSW. At the last census, this tiny town was home to less than 300 people and has been through every cliché Australian season over the years. I’m not talking winter, summer, autumn and spring, I’m talking dry, drier, drought and flood. Through all of that John’s parents, David and Kerrie, have stayed local, raising two kids and working however and wherever they needed to.

Farm life

In rural NSW, farming is just part of the DNA, as is trucking, and at the age of only 18, John’s dad David bought an old Commer and began carting cotton around the local area.

David worked several seasons with the Commer but, as he and Kerrie began their family, they chose to sell the truck and get back into farming. David spent about 10 years doing farm work as the kids were growing up, but trucking was always just sitting in the periphery for the Dufty family.

It made a return in the early ’90s, about the same time John was at an age where he moved from a typical annoying child into a highly motivated and

supportive youngster that could change tyres after school and have them ready for Dad as he came through town.

It was then that David and Kerrie formed Bellata Grainmoover and Contract Harvesting, the company that would eventually be working the stunning Mack Outlaw. It began with an old ACCO they purchased from David’s uncle. The purchase also included a flattop trailer and side delivery bins. The Duftys added some pumping gear and an Alcan tipper and began their story.

It wasn’t long before the workload necessitated an upgrade, the old ACCO making way for an R688 Mack, and then a White Road Boss.

“Dad bought the Road Boss in 1996, I think,” John explains. “That made him actually; that really put him on the grid.”

The old Road Boss, which is still in the shed by the way, used to tow a road train on cotton and a single on grain. Over the years there have been several other trucks in the company fleet, including the likes of a couple of G88 Volvos and even a classic N12.

The Road Boss served the family well for almost a decade, but like all truck operators there is always dreams of a new truck, and eventually the workload started catching up with the old White and it was

MARCH 2024 35 ownerdriver.com.au

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“It’s a workhorse, not a showpiece.”

time to look at an upgrade. With no more Road Boss’s around, the next obvious choice was to steer towards the Western Star badge.

“We bought a ’98 Western Star Heritage; it was a big truck,” John recalls. “It was 10 years old but we ran it for another five years. Then we sold that to make way for a brand new 4800 Western Star.”

The new 4800 was John’s truck, so when the company added another second-hand 4800 a little later John moved onto that one. When it was time to replace that Star with a new truck, there were plenty of discussions before the family landed on the current masterpiece you see on these pages before you.

To start with, the success the Duftys had had with the Western Star product meant that it was the first port of call when John went looking for a new truck.

“We love the Western Stars, they’ve been a good truck for us.” Unfortunately, timing was not on the Dufty side back in 2022 when they were looking to upgrade. Western Star was phasing out its old models and the new X model was on its way in. That meant there wasn’t a truck to suit the Dufty specs … well, there wasn’t one that didn’t come with a long waiting list. John took that opportunity to look at his dream truck.

“I’ve always loved the look of the Kenworth 659s,” John says. “I wasn’t interested at all in a 9-0, but always loved the 659s.” That’s where John directed his attention, only to find out the wait time for one of those was about as long as waiting on a Telstra help line.

Around that time, John Saint over at JT Fossey Trucks in Tamworth had Mack Outlaw #4 sitting in the depot and he invited John over for a test drive.

For those of you unaware of the Mack Outlaw range, allow me

Above: Outlaw Mack #5 shines bright from all angles, from the driver’s seat John gets to use the Narva Ultima to help him shine brightly

Below, left to right: The Outlaw branding pops up in a lot of the Bling HQ-added stainless; Probably the least used part of the truck, the spacious sleeper. What John loves about the family business is that he gets plenty of time at home with his family. But if he does need to be away. There is the room and comfort to do it

to give you a brief overview. Actually, seeing as this is the part of the story John wanted me to focus on, how about I make it a little less brief?

John Saint, the dealer principal at JT Fossey Trucks, is the man responsible for the Outlaw Macks. Prior to the COVID years, John had this vision of a custom series of Mack’s elite Super-Liners. The idea was to take the company’s flagship prime mover and send it to the next level, with a customised interior, custom exterior features and top-of-the-line custom paint work. The best in the business were called in to take an already stunning truck and make it legendary.

It started with the removal of the factory 58-inch bunk which got sent away to have the interior fully Outlaw personalised. All the mod cons were added to the living quarters – fridge/freezer, microwave, inverter … even a TV and DVD player. Custom shelving was fitted around all these added extras.

While all this was going on, the seats had been removed and sent to Hunter Valley Seats where they were retrofitted with custom stitching that encompassed the Outlaw badging as well as being colour matched to each truck. John had decided, while he wanted the Outlaw trucks to all be of the same style, he also wanted each one to be iconic on its own. This was done by using the same colour pattern over every Outlaw but changing the primary colour for each one.

Brisbane’s Bel-Air paints were responsible for the amazing finish. The first Outlaw has red as its theme colour, #2 had black, blue and then green for #3 and #4 respectively, and then, as you see on John’s truck, orange was the theme for #5.

I must admit I’ve seen a glimpse of Outlaw #6 and I won’t spoil it. Suffice to say, it is very ‘uplifting’.

King Bars also played an integral role in the truck’s design,

38 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
Top: Dusty dirty roads are the norm, yet John still loves keeping the truck looking the goods
“Dad still prefers to get behind the wheel of an old Super-Liner over any of the new stuff.”

with an outlaw-only FUPS bar for the series. Bling HQ in Brisbane created amazing Outlaw custom stainless features, adding not just the amazing lights and stainless but also laser cut Outlaw branding.

The other big player involved in the presentation of the Outlaw series was Showman Signs, where ‘Showie’ gets to share his skills and talents, adding lines and scrolls to each Outlaw. All the work is done by hand with the same theme running through every Outlaw Mack. It’s only the colours that change. This keeps all the trucks tied together yet maintains their standalone identities as well. Now that we have you up to date on the heritage of the Outlaw Macks, and how they are all colour-coded duplicates, let us discuss how and why Outlaw #5 is so different.

Outlaw attraction

Now where did we leave John? That’s right, he was visualising a 659 as he popped over to see John Saint and test drive Outlaw #4. “The truck was already sold but John took me for a test drive, and I must admit I really like it,” John says. (Writing a story with two Johns as the main protagonists is getting a little confusing, so I’ll start adding surname initials to help everyone keep track).

“I loved the way it drove, I love how it felt. I wasn’t too sure about the idea of the auto to start with but it was really good.” John Dufty was hooked, and John Saint was keen to get him signed up for Outlaw #5.

“The only problem was John was wanting all the Outlaws to be the same and we couldn’t go with a high roof,” John Dufty explains. “We do a lot of work around Augers and the low roof is much better for us.

“We also didn’t want a bull bar, so those were two big things. In the end though, John decided to spec out Outlaw #5 for us with the low roof and no bull bar”.

Top, L to R: The road ahead for John and his Outlaw Mack looks pretty good. With loyal customers and friendly family service, it’s a straight road to success

Above right: There is no bad angle of the big Mack, the first flat roof Outlaw looks perfect

Below: In order to suit John Dufty’s needs, John Saint replaced the Outlaws’ usual King bull bar with a custom front end. Still personalised with the Outlaw colour coded cutout

As big as the change was for John Saint and his Outlaw series, it was a bigger change for the small three-truck Dufty fleet. For a company that defines the idiom, ‘flying under the radar’, they were investing in a very big, very visual truck. That decision was motivated not just by the company’s needs, but also by John Dufty’s love of the job.

“I’ve always loved trucks, and I love doing what I do. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. In the end though it is just a truck, it’s a workhorse, not a showpiece.”

That workhorse mentality was another driving force behind the decision to get the Mack.

“We’ve had Macks before and Dad still prefers to get behind the wheel of an old Super-Liner over any of the new stuff. But we needed something that can do everything, from highway stuff to being out in the paddocks working hard.”

As John admits, they don’t really clock up the kays, but they do clock up the hours and so far the Outlaw has been doing exactly what has been asked of it.

“It is the flashiest truck we’ve ever bought,” John says, “but I’m really enjoying it. I love the view from it, once I got used to the visor, and I love the placement of the air intakes.

“Mum’s still not sold on the orange, but it has grown on me.”

In summation, I have failed to keep this as a ‘short story’ much the same as John and the Dufty family have failed to remain under the radar with such a stunning truck. The Duftys have been through as many good times as they have bad but continue to remain humble and modest.

Their motivating passion for the job cannot be described, it’s in their blood. Their loyal customers and great employees become part of the family. What is also extremely evident though is that even with all the eye-popping, jaw-dropping presence this Mack brings, it has not changed the down-to-earth demeanour of the family behind it.

I look forward to catching up with John in another 10 years when he is still happily plodding along, looking after all the same customers, and with an Outlaw Mack that still draws attention.

40 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au

The NHVR prosecution team has said working with industry to prevent breaches is one of its main goals.

One of the tools they wanted to use more was Enforceable Undertakings. This is where a person charged with a Heavy Vehicle National Law offence agrees to take steps that will reduce the risk of breaches, in return for the prosecution being discontinued.

Our experience in the early days was that the commitments required under Enforceable Undertakings were expensive and out of reach of most smaller operators. But recently we’ve seen a number of lower cost Enforceable Undertakings being approved by the NHVR. This is an interesting development because it opens Enforceable Undertakings as a realistic option for more people.

Firstly, it’s worth running over what an

Enforceable Undertaking is. The NHVR describes it as “a high-level statutory agreement that may be used as an alternative to prosecution where the alleged offender can demonstrate to the NHVR their ability and willingness to undertake organisational reform; and implement effective safety measures for transport activities.”

It means an agreement between the NHVR and someone who is alleged to have committed a heavy vehicle offence. The person puts forward various actions they will take. If the NHVR accepts the proposal then the prosecution is discontinued.

The agreement is enforceable. Not complying with the undertaking is an offence with a maximum penalty of more than $10,000. The NHVR can also apply to a court for an order forcing the person to comply with the undertaking, cancelling the

order or making them pay the NHVR’s costs to monitor compliance.

The NHVR publishes all the accepted Enforceable Undertakings on their website. This means we can see what sort of promises they’ve accepted. Most of the promises tend to focus on training and education, updating policies and procedures, publishing educational material, and making donations.

Helpfully, the NHVR website also includes the cost of the proposals. Early undertakings were as high as $250,000. The lower cost undertakings in the early days were still measured in the tens of thousands.

For many small operators, this made Enforceable Undertakings feel out of reach. They simply couldn’t afford it.

In the past 12 months NHVR’s website shows that they’ve accepted a number of more conservatively priced proposals. There have been several that cost less than $5,000 (admitted still amongst many proposals that cost tens of thousands). It shows that NHVR is open to matching the proposal to the size of the entity.

The NHVR will still only accept proposals that are proportionate to the breach and will make a real difference to compliance, both by the alleged offender and the broader industry.

But it does mean that it’s a real option now for operators who in the past would have been intimidated by the costs.

If you’ve been charged with a heavy vehicle offence and would like to consider an Enforceable Undertaking, our team at Ainsley Law is always happy to chat about your options.

MARCH 2024 41 ownerdriver.com.au THE LEGAL VIEW Sarah Marinovic SARAH MARINOVIC is a principal solicitor at Ainsley Law – a firm dedicated to traffic and heavy vehicle law. She has focused on this expertise for over a decade, having started her career prosecuting for the RMS, and then using that experience as a defence lawyer helping professional drivers and truck owners. For more information email Sarah at sarah@ainsleylaw. com.au or phone 0416 224 601 Prosecution alternative Enforceable undertakings a realistic option Spend more time doing the things you love No polishing alloys | Cleans in 41 seconds | Look good all year round Call Superchrome on 02 9060 1610 or visit us at www.superchrome.com.au Superchrome alloy wheels wash clean in just 41 seconds, and there's no polishing required. So, you can stop wasting time on wheel maintenance. Scan me



The Wolfe Brothers, Brad Cox and the duo of Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham shine bright at the Golden Guitar awards

The best of Australian country music was on show at the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) awards at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre on January 27, ringing in a changing of the guard in many categories.

The CMAA awards night, affectionately known as the Golden Guitar awards, was the culmination of another well-attended Tamworth Country Music Festival, this year running from January 19 to 28.

A well as the music, the festival raised $48,000 for Lifeline through the sale of Toyota hats and limited edition pins which Toyota donated.

For the 52nd running of the CMAA Awards, presented by Tamworth Regional Council, the qualifying period was for recordings released between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023, with 17 Golden Guitars presented celebrating the best of Australian country music.

The Wolfe Brothers took home three awards from their six nominations, including the highly coveted Toyota Album of the Year for their album Livin’ the Dream, Country Music Capital News Group or Duo of the Year, as well as Vocal Collaboration of the Year with Travis Collins for their single ‘Runnin’ the Country’.

Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham also claimed three Golden Guitar Awards, with their track ‘Size Up’ named Song of the Year and Single of the Year. The duo also took home Traditional Country Album of the Year for their album Birdsong

Brad Cox, who was unable to attend

the awards night, was named Male Artist of the Year, while his album Acres was awarded the Contemporary Country Album of the Year and Top Selling Country Album of the Year.

Kaylee Bell, a Golden Guitar Award winner in 2023, was crowned Female Artist of the Year, while 2022 Toyota Star Maker winner Max Jackson picked up her first ever Golden Guitar for New Talent of the Year.

Eight-time Golden Guitar and ARIA award winner Fanny Lumsden took home the Alternate Country Album of the Year for her album Hey Dawn, while Duncan Toombs picked up two gongs, including Heritage Song of the Year for his track ‘1861’ and CMT Video of the Year, which was co-directed by himself and The Filmery for his track ‘Steel on Steel’.

The newly formed duo Wicker Suite claimed their first ever Golden Guitar, picking up two awards, including Instrumental of the Year for their track ‘Ghost Train’ and Bluegrass Recording of the Year for their track ‘Old Pick-Up Line’, while family band Storer won the Bush Ballad trophy for the track ‘Dust Kids’.

While recognising and celebrating the success of the industry’s top artists and emerging talent, the Toyota 52nd Golden Guitar Awards was also a moment to honour and acknowledge one of Australia’s most

recorded songwriters, Allan Caswell, who was announced as the 2024 inductee into the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown – country music’s Hall of Fame. Caswell joins previous inductees Beccy Cole, Kasey Chambers, Lee Kernaghan, Slim Dusty and John Williamson. Caswell, who penned the theme song for the TV series Prisoner in 1979, has won a total of eight Golden Guitars, 14 Tamworth Songwriter awards, one ARIA, one APRA award and two gold singles over his 53-year musical career.

The Toyota 52nd Golden Guitar Awards also featured another special presentation with the Country Music Capital Award presented to long time radio presenter Ray Hadley OAM for his continued support and promotion of Australian Country Music. The Country Music Capital Award, first awarded in 1977, recognises individuals who are not singers, musicians, composers, or music producers and therefore not covered by the regular criteria for the Awards, but who have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the industry over a long period.

Shoba White, senior manager, regional operations attended on behalf of Toyota Australia and congratulated all the winners and finalists of the 2024 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards for their impressive musical achievements and contributions to the country music industry.

“For 32 years, Toyota Australia has been a proud partner of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and we are thrilled to continue supporting Australia’s country music industry and celebrate the talented musicians and artists seen at the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards,” White says.

Earlier in the festival, Wade Forster from Winton in outback Queensland, was crowned the 44th Toyota Star Maker winner, beating nine other talented finalists. Forster has already performed at gigs and rodeos around western Queensland, as well as performing at Winton’s Way-Out West festival and the 023 Savannah in The Round.

During its long existence, previous Star Maker winners have included Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban, James Blundell, Gina Jeffreys and Travis Collins.

The 53rd Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth is set to take place from January 17 to 26, 2025.

42 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
Above: Downtown Peel St during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Images: TCMF Right: Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham won three 2024 Golden Guitar awards at Tamworth Below, L to R: Wade Forster arrived from Winton, Qld to win the Toyota Star Maker award; The Wolfe Brothers won a trio of trophies, including Toyota Album of the Year

Taking it to the edge

A talented bunch of new and established artists


Benny Elder Independent


The acoustic guitar intro to ‘Break Free’, the opening track on Benny Elder’s debut album

From Now Until

Then, hooked this listener in from the word go. Elder, a Brisbane-based singer-songwriter and a mechanical engineer by trade, has previously worked in the mines while planning on a music career, offering him lyrical inspiration. ‘Longing For Change’ is one such track where Elder sings of hard work and fruitless dream chasing. The tempo lifts for ‘She’s Still Blowin In The Wind’ as he looks at past relationships, ‘Carry Me Home’ starts with a quiet acoustic guitar intro before Elder delivers the full gamut of his vocal range. ‘I Don’t Know’ is another wellwritten track, while ‘Coffee Don’t Taste The Same’ is a song about being on the road, far from home. An excellent firstup effort from Benny Elder.


The Vaccines

Thirty Tigers/Super Easy www.thevaccines.com

UK rockers The Vaccines have undergone a few line-up changes since debuting in 2011, the latest being the departure of guitarist Freddie Cowan in 2023. Just a blip in the radar for the band, which is led by founding member Justin Young, The Vaccines have continued on their productive way with Pick-Up Full Of Pink Carnations, their sixth studio album. There’s much to enjoy here: ‘Heartbreak Kid’ is a rapidpaced radio-friendly track with a very catchy chorus, and the band ventures into the US desert for ‘Lunar Eclipse’, an equally vibrant number. ‘Discount De Kooning (Last One Standing)’ is better still as the band sings of the Dutch artist and dancing. Other notable mentions go to ‘Sometimes, I Swear’, a serious poprock track with Young in fine voice, they maintain the pace and energy on ‘Love To Walk Away’, and there’s an unsettled relationship on ‘Another Nightmare’.


Claire Anne Taylor

Cheatin’ Hearts Records wclaireannetaylor.com

Tasmania’s Claire Anne Taylor received widespread acclaim for her first two albums, Elemental and All The Words, due to her songwriting talents and strong vocals. Now signed to Cheatin’ Hearts Records, Taylor celebrates the occasion with her third full length release, Giving It Away Tracks that immediately stand out include ‘Dance With Death’, its honkytonk piano a perfect backdrop for Taylor’s soulful, smoky voice. ‘Lay You Down In The Cold Hard Ground’ is a blues track with pounding percussion and soaring guitar solos, ‘Keep On Truckin’ wouldn’t be astray in a Cold Chisel catalogue, and ‘Swallowing Stones’ is a slow but forthright track that sees Taylor harmonising nicely with backing vocalists Hannah Czaban and Lilly Sideris.


The Last Dinner Party Island/Universal Music www.thelastdinnerparty.co.uk

Hailing from London, England, fivepiece pop-rock group The Last Dinner Party came into existence only three years ago, releasing the single ‘Nothing Matters’, a top 20 hit in the UK. That powerful expletive-ridden song is included on Prelude To Ecstasy, the allfemale band’s debut album. The opening track is also the title track, which is akin to an orchestral overture, before leading to the dramatic ‘Burn Alive’. ‘Caesar

On A TV Screen’ starts off in the same vein, before moving into theatrical pop territory. The ladies harmonise choirlike on ‘Sinner’, electric guitar solos giving that track extra impact. The Last Dinner Party introduces a dangerous wolf-like character on ‘Portrait Of A Dead Girl’, and there’s a hint of male envy on ‘Beautiful Boy’. Plus, there’s echoes of ’60s girl groups, particularly The Ronettes, on ’The Feminine Urge’, a victim song. Well worth checking out.


Lower Third/PIAS courtingband.com

British rockers Courting had some success with their debut album Guitar Music in 2022. New Last Name is the follow up, and it’s a mix of pop, electronica, indie rock and punk. However, despite Courting being founded in the English city of Liverpool, listeners would be fooled into thinking the quartet has emerged from the US college band scene. There’s an abundance of energy on ‘Throw’, the album’s opening track, although the “throw” front man Sean Murphy O’Neill refers to is more about a back injury. Crisp guitar chords are a highlight of ‘Emily G’, the lyrics referring to admiration for a magazine model, while O’Neill hints at a backseat encore on ‘Happy Endings’, a well-constructed rocker with edgy lead guitar. ‘We Look Good Together (Big Words)’, with its catchy chorus, is one of the album’s best.


Partison Records/Liberator Music www.idlesband.com

British rock band Idles has a lot to live up to with their fifth album Tangk, following the success of their last few albums, including Ultra Mono which hit number one of the UK charts, and the Grammynominated Crawler. Led by vocalist and lyricist Joe Talbot, Idles continues to deliver their distinctive post-punk rock sound on these 11 new tracks. ‘Dancer’, previously released as a single, boasts a pounding bass line behind unorthodox lyrics. ‘Grace’, in contrast, is slower but darker as Talbot sings of love, crowns and rings. Idles take their hard edge to ‘Gift Horse’, its incessant beat complemented by striking fuzzed-out guitar riffs, and there’s a mysteriously erotic tone to ‘Pop Pop Pop’. Still maintaining their hard edge, Idles name drop on ‘Hall & Oates’, and there’s menace and anger on ‘Gratitude’ as it moves from a slow tempo to full blown unadulterated rock.

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.

Country Corner


Harvey Russell

Heartland Music




Australian singer-songwriter

Harvey Russell served his musical apprenticeship in bands, both rock and country, as well as the duo Peasant Moon, before releasing his debut album Liquid Damage in 2019. For his follow-up album Pure As The Flame, Russell has embraced country music’s sub-genres, namely traditional, alternate country and Americana. ‘Honey Come Back To Me’ slots into the latter category in the style of John Hiatt. On ‘Last Dance’, a mid-paced track, he echoes John Mellencamp while maintaining his individual sound. With its lashings of steel guitar and fiddle, ’Look Me In The Eye’ heads towards traditional country, while ‘Mean Eyes’ is a smooth ride into western swing. Russell quietens the mood on ‘Batten Down The Hatches’, one of the album’s best tracks. In fact, it’s all quality on Pure As The Flame and, with Russell’s endearing vocal qualities, it could be a Golden Guitar candidate in 2025.


Colby T. Helms

Photo Finish Records


Twenty-one yearold Colby T. Helms, from the US state of Virginia, belies his age on Tales Of Misfortune, his debut album. Sounding like he’d spent a lifetime in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helms sings in the style of down-home country (meaning hillbilly). However, the eight tracks are all self-penned compositions. He dreams of the aforementioned mountains while delivering a medicinal solution for his ailing mother on ‘Mountain Brandy’. Helms prefers “southern melodies” and the country over the city while taking a swipe at Nashville on ‘Higher Ground’, and he delivers a simple country waltz on ‘Dove Song’. There’s duelling honkytonk piano and fiddle on the rollicking ‘First Snow’, and he sings of an unfaithful partner on ‘Dreaming Again’, that theme repeated on ‘Leanne’. Helms’ vocals are not unlike those of a young Jimmie Dale Gilmore, which is traditional country all the way.

MARCH 2024 43 ownerdriver.com.au

Making a difference

A look back at 50 years in the trucking industry and the rewards and pitfalls along the way

Chris Roe has furnished me with a copy of the document, Road Transport Industry Position

Statement: Closing Loopholes Road Transport Reform, dated September 23, 2023. I have major issues with parts of the document. Page three: ‘Operators and drivers are pushed to the limit with no safety net of industry standards to fall back on. In 2022 this led to 185 truck related fatalities, including 44 truck drivers’. I consider this a spurious claim at best.

Where are the studies that determine the causes of accidents? Driving is both a skill and an art. How many of these fatalities could have been averted had the truck driver been renumerated to a greater degree? Really, would renumeration have made a difference? I suspect not. All driving is speeding and unlike the advice my friend John the carpenter offered in relation to cutting timber, driving does not offer the choice of measuring twice and cutting once.

Get it right the first time or the penalty can be very injurious and sometimes even to the extent of being fatal.

The Australian attitude these days seems so much the reverse of Reg Chard’s (see below). Self first, second and, if there are thirds, I’ll have that too. Don’t get me wrong – I do not condone rip offs but that appears to be so much the Australian way currently.

My brother the dairy farmer has

struggled for years with bargain basement returns for his product. There is currently concern voiced in Queensland regarding prices being charged by supermarkets compared to what is being paid to supermarket suppliers. Despite the questionable tactics of supermarket management in this regard, customers still flock to them for bargains.

Getting back to Chris’s document. So much of it is couched in terms reminiscent of claims made in that recent referendum. Trust me, it’ll be right, although I do credit the authors for naming clauses in the proposed act for reference. It would be informative to have those included.

In relation to renumeration of drivers, I consider there to be an element of jealousy driving the demand for higher returns. I note recent reports of several Queensland bureaucrats being renumerated to the tune around one million dollars per annum. And most pundits would expect further perks at the end of contract. I suspect some truckies would like similar renumeration.


Should I be able to continue for a further six months as an owner-driver, I will have clocked up 50 years Please accept my apology for appearing to skite, but in that time I have circumnavigated the earth twice, once

by air and once by boat. In addition, we’ve had several international trips. I’ve slept on the Antarctic continent, been on the polar bear reserve Wrangle Island and sailed off Herald Island –both in the Arctic Ocean. In addition, I’ve made numerous flights in relation to being on the board of the National Transport Federation, NatRoad and, in later times, the National Road Freighters Association. On top of that we have sponsored two years of a secondary school to attend the Mount Cotton Driver training centre – sadly for but two days in total.

In addition, approximately half of my 50 years in road transport has been as a subcontractor.

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 ken@rwstransport.com.au

To continue, when this issue of OwnerDriver goes to print, we’ll have crossed Canada from west to east and return to west by train.

One simply cannot teach people to drive in one day. This was done with two ambitions. Firstly, in the hope some knowledge might save someone trauma or death. Secondly in the hope someone with better financial and more influence than me might be convinced that one way to improve this industry’s creditability would be by advocating the road safety benefits of comprehensive driver training at secondary school level.

Sadly, I consider it a reflection on the arrogance of industry leadership and a pointer to the driving ignorance of that leadership – that no lesson was taken from our initiative. The same ignorance gives rise to the flawed advice to simply slow down and the simplistic suggestion that ‘every K over is a killer’.

Don’t forget that we also provided the initial prime mover for the Truck Right Industry Vehicle effort at totally our expense; registration and insurance included. Rather than being seen as complementary to the Australian Trucking Association’s show piece, it’s been viewed more as competition. That prime mover was just one of six new vehicles we have purchased over the period.


“One simply cannot teach people to drive in one day.”

While this industry is no walk in the park, I consider viability is acceptable on safety grounds should people take due care – both professional and casual drivers. I’ve been through two major accidents. One a double fatality in which I consider myself to be a victim of another driver’s distraction. The second, I was responsible for – again this time, through my distraction. In both cases, action could have been taken through split second decision making to minimise the outcome. Had the driver that I’d involved in the accident been educated in the skills of driving, we could have gotten away with panel damage. As it was, his vehicle was written off. But for a strong inter directional traffic flow barrier, I’m confident severe injury would have resulted – if no fatality.

An honest informed response to road trauma is long overdue.

Your reading this month: The Digger of Kokoda, The Official Biography of Reg Chard by Daniel Lane. After the horrors of New Guinea, Reg spent considerable time driving trucks interstate.

44 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au

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Trucks aplenty headed into the Victorian rural town of Koroit in late January for the annual Koroit Truck Show, surpassing previous years’ attendances as the big rigs rolled in from across the state. Warren Aitken writes

truck events

Just in case there are those out there that think my life is all rainbows, I would like to invite you into my Saturday night, January 27. As I write this story, I am sitting in a tiny 1970s-decorated motel room in the Victorian town of Colac. I have a half-eaten microwave dinner beside me, one can left in the fridge, I have half a bottle of Banana Boat after-sun aloe vera gel already been plastered across my sunburnt neck, ears and nose. The other half of the bottle has been liberally applied to my wind burnt forehead.

Above: It is very hard to disagree with the ‘King Rig’ decision as Andrew Derham’s beautiful 1989 Valueliner is absolutely mint

Opposite top: The well-presented line-up of trucks plus the many activities on hand kept a steady stream of patrons entertained

My shoulders are scarred and bruised, for reasons I’ll explain soon, I have the world’s smallest TV currently playing SBS as it only gets four channels and three of them have subtitles. To top it all off I have run out of electrical sockets needed to charge all my extremely deflated camera batteries. (PS: I only have three chargers, so do the maths on how many outlets my room has).

Opposite middle: One of the busiest volunteers was Philip Keane, the roadside director in charge of keeping the long line of trucks rolling into this year’s show

Opposite bottom, left to right:



On the other hand, I have just spent the entire day at Victoria Park, Koroit surrounded by hundreds of perfectly polished, decadently dressed big rigs. I’ve revelled in an action-packed truck nut’s dream day out, along with thousands of like-minded truck enthusiasts, all happy to endure the sunburn and heat stroke just to enjoy an excess of impressive iron ponies.

I guess you weigh up the pros and cons. The cons being the fact I am tired and sore and look like a roasted lobster that’s been vandalised by a graffiti artist who works solely in red. The pros being that I got to enjoy my second-ever Koroit Truck show. Verdict: Worth it!

While I am eager to share my adventure with everyone, I am also going to be very careful with how I summarise this year’s show. Last year I wrote a pretty positive summation of my day in the tiny west Victorian town. I had a ball and happily reported that. This year the quantity and quality of the entrants didn’t just skyrocket, it practically went Marvel multiverse mad. I’m not saying that my review of the

MARCH 2024 47
There was shortage stunning Kenworths on display, including the GT bobcat tippers and Whitehead transport trucks; The stunning convoy rolling into the town of Koroit
“It was fantastic to see all the gleaming gear rolling through the gates.”

a couple of years and its return last year was record-setting, easily clearing the triple figures for entrants. Hence, it is no surprise that this year was going to be even bigger as the entry list blew past 2023’s totals and started climbing up closer to the 200 mark.

It was fantastic to see all the gleaming gear rolling through the gates on Friday arvo and Saturday morning. Unless of course you were one of the volunteers who had been assigned the task of parking the entrants. Those volunteers were under the pump from very early in the day and deserved a nice cold beverage for their hard work. I’m pretty sure they’ll be avoiding that role next year.

About now I would normally like to invite you all to share in a bit of a show history lesson. Last year I was lucky enough to sit down with one of the main men behind the show, Richard Allen and he filled me in on the growing legacy of the Koroit Show. However, with the growing popularity of the show, the increase in attendance led to Richard this year grabbing himself a golf cart to get around and put out all the spot fires you expect at such a big event.

Although I wasn’t able to pin him down long enough to get his feel and reaction on the show, I do remember a bit of what he had told me last year. So let’s make it brief and we can get onto the rundown on this year’s extraordinary event.

MARCH 2024 49 ownerdriver.com.au
Top, left to right: Last year’s show saw Morris Transport sharing their stunning DAF stock truck, but this year they brought much more of its fleet; I caught up Lenny Clissold as he wiped down all the marks of his T900 Legend, which usually hauls a bitumen tanker around the country; The stunning Cleveland Mack Muncher was another popular showpiece with the truckies Above, left to right: Ryley Dridan found his favourite for the show after his carer Teghan brought him over from Ballarat for a look at this year’s event; Dylan and Ang Campbell, with their daughter Jessie, brought along Waycon Haulage’s shiny Kenworth for their fourth appearance at the show; You would need at least a day inspecting the gleaming Cornwill Transport trucks to find an ounce of dirt – and they’re all working trucks; Damian Reed gets the shiny stuff out to finish off the Whitehead Transport T909 Left: Duells Furniture Removalists brought a few of their stunning purple trucks all the way from Mt Gambier, as well as the team of Sandra Duell, Allan Duell, Chanse Parkes, Kayla Knox, Jason Duell, Mick Dedman and Brendan Marslen

The history of the Koroit Show dates back to the equine influenza epidemic back in 2007. Horses had been a big part of the annual Koroit Agricultural Show and when the horse flu issues curtailed their transportation in Victoria, it left a huge hole in the annual Koroit Agricultural Show. Hence the idea of replacing horses with horsepower was floated. What started with 20 local trucks turning up as a substitute and fillin soon took on a life of its own. After a couple of years the horse returned, and the growing popularity of the truck show ensured that it became a stand-alone event.

Jump ahead 14 years and the show is fast becoming a mustsee on the Australian truck show calendar. Koroit itself is a town of two pubs, two op shops and a couple of thousand people, all of whom happily exchange friendly greetings as you pass them in the street. Despite this small country town being off the beaten track, the success of this volunteer-run show just keeps growing while still retaining the small-town community feel. That atmosphere is a huge part of what makes this show so much fun.

Festival atmosphere

This year saw the entry list expand and it wasn’t just the numbers that went up, the quality of the trucks that rolled in were next level.

This show is no longer just for the sensational local lorries, there were plenty that had made the three-and-a-half-hour journey from Melbourne, as well as many from places like Warrnambool, Mt Gambier and Ballarat

In between my time spent ogling all the shiny stuff, I did manage to indulge in all the other festivities available on the day. See the Koroit Truck Show packs a lot more punch than a standard truck show. It also manages to slip in a car show, a motorbike show, trade stalls, a woodchopping competition, a stunt bike show, and even a tug-of-war challenge (which is where I managed to get those scarred and bruised shoulders I mentioned earlier).

Being the jovial mischief maker, I thought it would be a great idea to talk Jason Duell and his team of furniture removalists into entering themselves into the tug-of-war competition. Jason, a former Truck of the Month winner with

50 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
Top, left to right: The trophy winners were all smiles at the end of the day; Everywhere you looked there were stunning trucks getting parked and polished Above, left to right: Some of the classics on display were just as impressive as the new trucks, like this beautifully restored Atkinson; Apprentice mechanic Travis Beasley was putting all the effort into the Morris Transport Kenworth – “It’ll be mine one day”, he reports; The Whitehead workers enjoying the sun: Ella Whitehead and Oliva Magarey along with young Jodie and Teagan, and of course local driver ‘Mattress’ Brown and Anna Whitehead; I didn’t envy the committee members in charge of parking, the trucks kept rolling in and the parking spots quickly disappeared
“The success of this volunteer-run show just keeps growing.”
MARCH 2024 51 ownerdriver.com.au www.mooretrailers.com.au 07 4693 1088 Find us on Facebook and Instagram

his stunning K200 furniture truck, was happy to sign his team up for a shot at the $1000 prize. Just two problems arose. Firstly, the Duell’s team drew the defending champs, the Wilsons Warriors, in the knockout round. Secondly, I didn’t realise you needed five people to sign up. Jason only had four, hence I got talked into it being number five.

Needless to say, the champs are the champs for a reason and, as hard as we tried, we were not the team to dethrone Koroit’s biggest tuggers.

It felt like hours to get into the medieval-style machine and it felt like it took milli-seconds before they pulled the pin to start. Then it felt like my shoulders and legs were tortured for days once the pulling started. Truth be told it was all over in a matter of minutes. We fought bravely, or as bravely as five grown men can while in absolute agony, but credit where credit is due as Wilsons Warriors went on to retain their title.

Thankfully after tormenting my body, I was able to sit and enjoy a drink as the prize-giving began. There is a huge array of prizes at the Koroit show and a lot of entertainment to be gained by just watching people try and carry everything back from the stage.

The big award of course is the King Rig and 2024 saw the first-ever back-to-back winner with Andrew Derham’s immaculate Mack Valueliner retaining the trophy he had previously picked up in 2023.

“I really don’t get it, I was not expecting that,” was Andrew’s response as he acknowledged all the amazing rigs that had rocked up, reiterating his surprise at retaining the title. It is an impressive truck and deserves all the accolades it gets. The big question now is, can he go for the three-peat? I’ll definitely be back next year to find out, I strongly recommend you book your accommodation early.

From top clockwise: It was a case of shows within the show, including this display of historic trucks and cars; I managed to get a few of the Boyle’s Livestock Transport team together for a quick photo; Another crowd favourite was the ATS Karma Kenworth which took out the Best Customised award; This old inter was far from “Fugly”


to fill the gap

Sydney Truckfest, the first event of its kind in many years, is set to satisfy the thirst of road transport personal and devotees in the NSW capital and surrounds on May 3 to 5 this year.

The event is the brainchild of Brendon Ryan and Bruce Gunter, the duo behind the Copy Southbound Podcast. Both have had their hands in numerous successful events in the past, so it’s no surprise that they’ve come to the decision to try and reinvent Sydney’s iconic truck show scene.

Sydney Truckfest will predominantly be a show for new vehicles, trailing equipment and services dedicated to the road transport industry, filling a void in the area.

According to Brendon and Bruce, there hasn’t been a show in the area dedicated to new equipment in nearly 20 years.

“We want to support the local dealers, manufacturers, body builders and services associated with the road transport industry,” they state.

“We want to see the producers and suppliers of accessories and equipment given a chance to showcase their wares.

“For businesses based in NSW, the only way to show their products is to travel interstate and for the potential buyers, they’ve been left with the same option. So we decided to put our event and marketing skills to the test

The inaugural Truckfest will be held at the Hawkesbury Showgrounds in Clarendon, between Windsor and Richmond in Sydney’s north-west. The town sits on the Hawkesbury River, enveloped by farmland and Australian bush. Many of the oldest surviving European buildings in Australia are located in the Windsor and Richmond area.

The Hawkesbury Showgrounds is also the regular venue for the annual Clarendon Classic Rally and the Kenworth Klassic.

However, the main reason for the holding Truckfest at the Hawkesbury Showgrounds was said to be the relaxed, country atmosphere and the hope of it being an event that is a cross between successful shows such as Ag-Quip, Casino and the Brisbane Truck Shows.

During the May weekend, local vendors will be offering an array of food and beverages, including a fully functional licenced bar.

Entertainment will come from country music duo Baylou, singer-songwriter Divinia Jean and country rockers The James Brothers, among others.

Elsewhere, truck rides will offer a chance for attendees to hop into the passenger seat of a classic truck. There will also be a model truck display and a show and shine, minus the judging and trophies.

For further information see e  c fes e s e a www.sydneytruckfest.com.au.


March 10, 2024. Clunes, Victoria

Organised by the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Australia (Ballarat branch) and held at the Clunes Showgrounds from 9am to 4pm. Open to vehicles over 25 years old. Entry $10 adults, children under 16 free. Set up on Saturday, camping available, sales stands and food stalls. For further information contact Murray on 0429 434 306 or see the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HCVCBallaratbranch


March 16-17, 2024. Kyabram Showgrounds, Vic.

Featuring all Mack models and associated brands. Also open to all truck makes. Free entry for exhibitors. Friday night barbecue offered at showgrounds and Saturday night meal available at the Kyabram Club with guest speaker.

For further details see the Facebook page or phone Dave Willis on 0428 692 753, John Laffan 0427 484 247 or Tim Daws 0458 868 988.


March 16 to 17, 2024. Oaklands, NSW

Held at the Oaklands Recreation Reserve, the show will have presentations to car, ute and bike owners on Saturday, and truck presentations on Sunday at 11am. Truck registration $20 (trucks must be registered by 9am on March 17). Public entry $15, kids under 16 free. Includes kids activities, food, bar (strictly no BYO), market stalls, raffles and entertainment. For further info see the Facebook page, email oaklandsts@hotmail.com or phone Jimmy on 0428 570 325.


March 21-23, 2024. Toowoomba, Qld

Held at The Goods Shed, Toowoomba. The Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Queensland (LRTAQ) will be hosting its annual conference in partnership with national body, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA). Sessions include Decarbonising and Redefining Rural Transport, Workfoce and Diversity, and Incident and Emergency Management and Preparedness. The Young Person in Transport Award will be presented at the Bull Carters Ball. For further information, email tammie@lrtaq.com.au or see the website www.lrtaq. com.au/annual-conference


March 21-23, 2024. Louisville, Kentucky, USA

The Mid America Trucking Show (MATS) is arguably the largest annual heavy-duty trucking industry event in the world. Held each year at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, KY, the show attracts 70,000-plus attendees and 1,000-plus exhibitors from throughout the United States and abroad. Includes the PKY Truck Beauty Championship.

For further info see the website at www.truckingshow.com


March 24, 2024. Byford, Western Australia

Held at Quarry Farm, Byford, the WA Mack Muster and Truck Show is a grassroots family friendly muster experience that promises to be a fun day out with a bunch of Macks and other makes and models on display. Food trucks and licensed bar, kids zone, competitions, exhibits, local trucking celebrities and more. Raising money for cancer research. For further info see the website at www.mackmuster.com.au or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wamackmuster or email mackmuster@quarryfarm.com


April 6, 2024

Campbellfield, Victoria

Relive the old route from Campbellfield to Albury and see some fantastic vintage trucks as they make their way up the Hume. This event is free for the public to come and watch these magnificent trucks as they travel on their journey up the Hume. Entry is $50 per vehicle or $60 includes the Saturday night dinner at Albury Race Club. Sunday morning presentation. Entries close March 22. All vehicles must be over 25 years old.

For more info and entry forms go to the Crawlin’ The Hume 2020 Facebook page or email crawlinthehume@myyahoo.com, phone Robert French on 0409 380 090 or Scott Hough 0417 305 192.


April 17-19, 2024. Canberra, ACT

MARCH 2024 53 ownerdriver.com.au
Held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra, this event will feature presentations from leading industry practitioners, government agencies and peak/regulatory bodies to help shape solutions to the road transport industry’s most pressing challenges!. Includes the National Trucking Industry Awards, plus Kenworth Legends Lunch, Daimler Truck Local Showcase Dinner, and ATA Foundation Sponsors Gala Awards Dinner. For further details see the website new.truck.net.au/ta or phone 02 6253 6900. WHAT’S ON upcoming events Above: Sydney Truckfest will light up Hawkesbury Showgrounds in May. Image: Warren Aitken Left: Truckfest co-organiser Bruce Gunter
aim to
biennial event.”
Latest industry equipment and technology to be
show to try and reignite the local truck
scene and
produce a
To have an event listed free, phone 0408 780 302 or e-mail greg.bush@primecreative.com.au


Bentley Quarry has taken delivery of a new Hamelex White truck body and dog tipper combination from MaxiTRANS, which, due to its Performance-Based Standards specifications, has delivered a significant boost to the fleet’s operating capabilities

Bentley Quarry is a local New South Wales family-operated business specialising in basalt products. Run by Rob and Sarah McKenzie, it offers a range of gravel supplies, including weathered basalt, which meets all level one compaction requirements.

In addition to quarry products, the business also provides a series of vehicle hiring options, which include a reliable and modern fleet of truck and dogs for wet and dry hire, 24-tonne

excavators and loaders with trade-approved scales available for wet and dry conditions.

To keep up with industry demand within the region, Bentley Quarry turned to MaxiTRANS and its Hamelex White range.

For maximum payload, low tare weight and a total commitment to customer satisfaction, MaxiTRANS claims the industry can depend on Hamelex White tippers to deliver. The Hamelex White range includes specific models tailored for the haulage of construction

and quarry materials, ranging from rigid truck bodies, coupled with three to six-axle dog trailers, to A-doubles and road train applications.

To suit the needs of their freight task, Bentley Quarry opted for a Hamelex White truck body with a four-axle dog trailer. The unit has already been deployed in the fleet and is now supplying the Northern Rivers with quarry products throughout NSW between Tweed Heads, Tamworth and Warriewood.

54 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
industry focus

While this is the fleet’s first experience with a Hamelex White dog trailer, Rob knew from past experiences with the OEM that it would be a good choice.

“We went out to purchase two new Mack Tridents and needed bins, and MaxiTRANS could get the job done in the timeframe that we needed it done,” he says. “We’ve been using their Hamelex White rigid bodies for over two years, and they’ve always supplied a good product.”

In addition to the already impressive list of standard inclusions featured in the Hamelex White range, Bentley Quarry took the extra step by venturing into the field of Performance-Based Standards (PBS). The truck and dog trailer has been set up as a 19-metre combination under PBS guidelines and also comes with a series of extra features. These include rock sheeting on the sides and tailgate, a retractable tarp and Hendrickson airbag suspension on the dog trailer.

“It’s a good, neat, tidy unit,” Rob says. “It’s performed great in its operations so far.”

MaxiTRANS’ in-house PBS specialists worked very closely with Bentley Quarry to design the combination with the aim of maximising the total payload and delivering the greatest efficiency for the whole combination, all while ensuring access requirements

were met. As specialists in PBS and proven success in this area, Hamelex White delivered – unlocking greater productivity benefits and efficiency for Bentley Quarry in its northern NSW operation.

To take delivery of the new truck and dog combination, Bentley Quarry engaged with MaxiTRANS’ local dealer, Trailer Sales, which Rob says was a great help.

“Trailer Sales were great with this purchase, which is our second rigid body through them,” he says. “It was a teamed-up effort between them and Southside Truck Centre in Lismore, and it just made the whole process much easier.”

Roger Miller, Bulk Equipment Sales Specialist at Trailer Sales has been Rob’s main point on contact throughout the process. He says Rob was great to deal with, getting to know his company’s needs, we learned quickly that PBS was going to deliver the best returns for their freight task.

“Our business prides itself on truly understanding our customer’s needs first before recommending a solution that’s going to deliver the best returns suited to their specific freight task,” Roger says.

“With local parts and servicing support, we believe in building long term partnerships with customers. As a partner to the transport industry, we want to help ensure our customers are getting the best returns from their equipment and that we are here to deliver ongoing support whenever it’s needed,” Roger adds.

The Hamelex White truck body and dog tipper combination is mainly purpose-built for quarry and construction applications, and by bringing PBS into the mix, Rob says everything has worked out perfectly for Bentley Quarry.

“We’ve had a great experience with the Hamelex White product,” Rob says. “I’m sure we will look at purchasing another one in the future.”


ABOVE: The Hamelex White truck body and four-axle dog trailer have proved perfect for Bentley Quarry’s requirements

BELOW: Speciaists in PBS, Hamelex White has unlocked greater productivity benefits for Bentley Quarry

Images: MaxiTRANS

MARCH 2024 55 ownerdriver.com.au


On a global scale, the last few months have been a frantic time for Volvo. First, the launch in the US of the all-new VNL conventional and most recently, the debut in Sweden of the slippery FH Aero and a big bore D17 engine taking Volvo to the top of the power parade. But how might all this ultimately impact the Australian market? Well, as Steve Brooks reports from Sweden, we might all be in for a few surprises, eventually!

56 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
new model report

As you’d expect from someone inhabiting the executive stratosphere, Roger Alm is a consummate corporate performer.

One-on-one interviews hold no horrors for a man who started on the workshop floor and now carries the lofty titles of executive vice-president of Volvo Group and president of Volvo Trucks. Simply, he’s a big cog in a big outfit and given Volvo’s growth and vast volumes across the globe – Volvo produced around 145,000 trucks in 2023 –there’s a quiet confidence which marks a man content in crafting the big picture.

We’re in Sweden for a few reasons, among them the European launch of Volvo’s new FH Aero model, a revamped big bore engine, and an interview with Roger Alm to talk about, well, lots of things. Actually, it’s an interview almost a year in the making after a candid dinner conversation in Brisbane provoked the prospect of a second course somewhere, some day.

We’ll get to specific details on the FH Aero soon enough and likewise, the rebored engine called the D17 which, with up to 780hp and 3800Nm (2803lb-ft) of torque, ends the reign of Scania’s 770hp V8 as the western world’s most powerful production truck. Or at least ends it until Scania stokes the fire with yet another nudge of Nordic brawn.

But first, Roger Alm: Much like the meeting in Brisbane in 2023, there’s again something in his persona which hints of a fundamental, even reserved integrity rarely apparent among the corporate elite. There’s no aloofness, just the calm, rock solid certainty of a man in charge. Sure, it would be totally naïve to think any discussion or meeting, no matter how convivial or affable, might divulge detailed plans for the future. That said though, there are some topics that provoke an innate passion. Electric trucks, for instance, and for that matter, alternative energy sources generally.

Make no mistake, this is a man committed to a carbon-free future and more to the point, intent on realising Volvo’s stated goal of net zero emissions in all its products by 2040. On the other hand, he’s equally a commercial realist and asserts the ongoing development of diesel and alternative fuels as vital elements in not only achieving greater efficiencies and lower CO2 outputs, but also meeting the wildly diverse demands of trucking operators around the globe. There is, as he states, no single solution or ‘silver bullet’ on the path to a carbon-free future.

MARCH 2024 57 ownerdriver.com.au
Above: Volvo Trucks global supremo Roger Alm. On emissions, “it’s not just about electrification … it’s also about combustion engines running on different fuels and different powertrains.”

However, with relatively slow sales of battery-electric trucks after several years of hype and vigour in Volvo’s climb up the green tree, is Roger Alm disappointed with uptake of electric trucks to date, typified perhaps by production currently running at a modest 12 to 15 units a day? In effect, has the electric truck bubble burst?

‘No’ is the short answer. But then, “We are in the early stages. We have been doing electric trucks for four years but we have been doing diesel trucks for 100 years, so we are still very much in the starting phase of the electrification journey.

“Even so, we have summarised commercial operations and found that our (electric) trucks have travelled around 35 million kilometres, equal to 900 laps around the world, in 45 countries around the world, all in four years.

“Yes, the volumes are still very small compared to diesels but it’s growing and we are taking steps to be in more segments, more applications and this is something we will continue to do.”

In fact, with the introduction of an electric version of the FH Aero and a low-entry FM Electric, there are now eight models in Volvo’s battery electric range.

Moreover, there’s little doubt the significantly refashioned Aero cab will enhance Volvo’s electric ambitions across a range

58 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au

of applications. Sure, the European market will see the model offer both diesel (including the new D17 engine) and electric powertrains but Volvo insiders are unequivocal in citing the Aero’s 11 per cent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency as particularly beneficial to a battery electric truck’s performance and range.

Compared to a standard FH, the cab has been extended by 240mm to allow for a heavily rounded frontal area and along with the standard inclusion of Volvo’s new Camera Monitor System (CMS), the company claims the FH Aero ‘… can cut up to five per cent in energy consumption and emissions’.

Yet despite Roger Alm declaring the FH Aero “our most efficient truck ever”, the extended front is likely to restrict its Australian potential to battery electric roles.

Nonetheless, electrification is “… a journey that will take time and we are proud of every electric truck we put into the market,” Alm says firmly. In short, the passion and commitment to promote the creation of more infrastructure and more opportunities for battery electric trucks is unwavering.

“But it’s not just about electrification,” he emphasises, referring to the new D17 engine then doing demonstration laps at Volvo’s Experience Centre on the outskirts of corporate

headquarters in Gothenburg. “It’s also about combustion engines running on different fuels and different powertrains all to bring down CO2 in different markets and in different applications.” Simply, more efficient powertrains means burning less fuel and therefore, less CO2.

However, when asked if acceptance of electric trucks in the Australian market is proving particularly difficult despite Volvo’s concerted efforts to push the carbon-neutral message, Roger Alm appears to choose his words carefully. Even so, the point comes through loud and clear, citing the absence of even modest government subsidies as an ongoing stumbling block to the wider use of battery electric models.

“All parties need to come together to make the transformation happen and reduce CO2,” he remarked, soon after confirming that he will again visit Australia in March this year as part of a whirlwind tour alongside Volvo Group chief executive Martin Lundstedt and senior vice-president of Volvo Trucks International, Per-Erik Lindstrom.

Are meetings with our political leaders on the agenda? “We hope so,” he replied. “Whatever we can do, we will do.”

More recently, it has been announced their visit will coincide with a world-leading trial of 60 battery electric light and mediumduty trucks by Team Global Express (formerly Toll) at its specially constructed depot in western Sydney.

Yet as an executive who is plainly one of the trucking world’s strongest advocates for electric trucks and overall carbon neutrality, it’s an upbeat Roger Alm who insists that despite “CO2 reduction happening too slowly in some markets”, he now finds far less cynicism from operators towards electric trucks.

“There are many benefits for customers in reducing carbon emissions and these benefits are being recognised,” he asserts, further stating that up to 40 per cent of freight tasks can be done by battery electric models, and even more as developments such as an e-axle come on stream over the next few years to extend driving range.

Likewise, when asked if battery technology is progressing fast enough, his response was immediate and emphatic. “Battery technology will continue to improve (and) there will be many, many more innovations. I am sure of that.”

As for anyone still questioning Volvo Group’s commitment to battery electric technology, it’s worth noting the company’s recent winning bid to purchase financially stricken US battery specialist Proterra for US$210 million. The acquisition includes a new development centre for battery packs in California and an assembly factory in South Carolina.

Yet despite these developments, there appeared a subtle sense of frustration in Roger Alm’s response when it was suggested that the vast sums and technical expertise being applied to carbon reduction measures by global giants such as Volvo aren’t being matched by similar levels of initiative and effort by some governments.

“We cannot wait,” he said seriously. “At Volvo, we are extremely focussed on zero emissions. Our children and grandchildren require it.” The passion is profound.

“We have been doing electric trucks for four years but we have been doing diesel trucks for 100 years.”

Above: Volvo’s big bore D17 engine. Effectively a rebored version of the current D16. Top rating is a thumping 780hp with 3800Nm (2802lb-ft) of torque

Opposite top: Volvo’s new FH Aero offers both diesel and electric powertrains but an 11 per cent gain in aerodynamic efficiency is particularly beneficial to electric models

Opposite bottom: For our market, the 780hp D17 is more likely to find a home under a Mack SuperLiner snout rather than a Volvo FH16. Australia’s hot and heavy workloads place big demands on cooling

MARCH 2024 59 ownerdriver.com.au
“If the 750 couldn’t be adequately cooled under a Volvo in Australian conditions, isn’t the 780 more likely to be applied to Mack?”

Still, a cynic might question Volvo’s environmental sincerity given the launch of the D17 engine, a big bore high horsepower diesel seemingly certain to spur on the horsepower race with Scania.

In a heartbeat, the commercial realist came to the fore. “As I’ve said before, there is no one solution,” an adamant Roger Alm fired back. “We are a global company and we need to supply trucks for all our customers and for all applications.

“Yes, we’ve gone from 750hp (in the D16 engine) to 780hp but we’re talking about a five per cent decrease in fuel consumption and therefore, less CO2. We are reducing carbon emissions all over the globe.”

Seated alongside, Per-Erik Lindstrom quickly added, “The horsepower race is not for its own sake,” explaining that with more power and torque, a taller final drive ratio can be employed to further bring down engine speed and subsequently reduce emissions.

It was, perhaps, a case of splitting hairs on emissions but as Per-Erik also enthused, politicians in Sweden and some parts of Europe are now realising an effective way to bring down emissions is to have fewer trucks on the road, leading in some jurisdictions to the use of bigger trucks hauling higher weights.

Fair enough, but was the main motivation in moving to a 780hp rating simply to give Volvo’s flagship FH the mantle of the western world’s most powerful production truck? Or as the question was more bluntly put, ‘to piss off Scania?’ in what will probably amount to an escalation of the increasingly historic horsepower head-butt between the two Swedish bulls.

Both men chuckled but it was Roger Alm who said seriously, “We respect our competition but what we do is for our customers.”

Aussie angles

Technically, the D17 is a Euro 6 engine and effectively a rebored version of the D16, with bore diameter increased to 149mm compared to the 16 litre engine’s 144mm, using the same crankshaft, rods and stroke length.

Changes have, however, been made to enhance overall efficiency. According to a surprisingly brief press statement from Volvo, ‘the D17 is equipped with a single efficient turbocharger that boosts engine responsiveness (and) retains Volvo’s patented wave piston design to optimise combustion and reduce emissions, while the new injection system ensures the best fuel economy and increased peak cylinder pressure enables high power output.’

Importantly, Volvo adds that ‘engine brake power is increased across the entire speed range in the D17.’ There is, the company states, up to 520kW of braking horsepower now available while the engine is also said to weigh 70kg less than its predecessor.

Horsepower ratings range from 600 to 700 and 780hp with respective torque peaks of 3000Nm, 3400Nm and a stump ripping 3800Nm. Again, Volvo says, ‘The higher power and torque levels translate into faster engine response (and) improved fuel efficiency.’

Vitally, Volvo’s benchmark I-shift automated transmission ‘has been updated to handle up to 3800Nm, and internal gearbox

60 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
Top, left to right: Upgraded FH Globetrotter cab doing demo laps in Sweden. Volvo’s new CMS – camera monitor system – is optional on all models but standard on the FH Aero; A 780hp D17 under Volvo’s new FH Aero in a top-weight Swedish combination Opposite middle: Side view of FH Aero. The heavily rounded frontal area extends the cab by 240 mm and for Australia, it’s likely to be only used in electric models Right: Volvo’s mildly upgraded range of FM, FMX and FH models. After 30 years, we wonder is this the last evolution of the supremely successful FH family?

efficiency has been further improved on the 3000Nm and 3400Nm versions’.

What’s more, the company says ‘the D17 is certified to run on HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) in all power ratings. The 700hp version is also certified to run on 100 per cent biodiesel (B100).’

For the European market, the D17 in all three power ratings will go on sale in mid-2024 and be available under the new FH16 Aero cab and a mildly updated FH16. However, there will be no change to the FH16 model name, to FH17 for example. Bigger engine or not, FH16 is a well-regarded model in its own right and, according to several Volvo insiders, it’s simply a title too popular to replace.

But is this mildly refreshed FH (and FM) cab the last evolution of one of the most successful cab-over heavy-duty trucks ever built? After all, Volvo’s flagship model has now been in production for 30 years with more than 1.4 million units sold around the world, suggesting a new generation will break cover within the next few years.

From Roger Alm down, Volvo insiders could not be drawn into discussions on the FH’s future. Asked directly, Roger Alm’s only response was, “We love the

FH and it will continue for some time.”

Meanwhile, it came as no surprise to hear Australia played a significant role in the D17’s engine’s testing regime, said to be at gross weights up to 130 tonnes. More to the point though, while there’s little doubt the D17’s 600 and 700hp settings will be soon enough offered here under Volvo’s FH cab, it’s hard to imagine the 780 version finding a home under a Volvo in our part of the world.

Simply put, if the previous 750hp D16 rating couldn’t be adequately cooled under a Volvo cab in Australia’s hot and heavy conditions, there’s probably less likelihood of the 780hp D17 coping with big weights in big temperatures under the Swedish cabover.

Here’s the thing though, it’s now apparent that Volvo’s clandestine GTT (Global Truck Technology) division has been for some time testing the bigger engine in the Mack Super-Liner of a high-profile Queensland roadtrain fleet.

So, it seemed more than reasonable to ask Roger Alm, ‘If the 750 couldn’t be adequately cooled under a Volvo in Australian conditions, isn’t the 780 more likely to be applied to Mack?’

It was hard to tell if the answer came with a smile or a smirk but either way, Roger Alm said shrewdly, “We have parked that question for a time. Maybe we will have some good things for later (but) if we do it for Australia, we will be sure it’s right for Australia.”

The next question was a long shot but given that Mack had already slid into the conversation: ‘Okay, but while we’re on Mack, is the new Volvo VNL conventional recently launched in America ultimately the platform for an entirely new Mack cab?’

A few seconds of silence, a sharp stare and finally a wry grin. “We will have to leave that to our Mack colleagues to answer.” Like I said, it was a long shot but even so, maybe not too far off the money.

Time was almost up but not before a final question excited a resolute response from both Roger Alm and Per-Erik Lindstrom. Both men are openly staunch supporters of Volvo Group Australia (VGA) and specifically, local assembly at Brisbane’s Wacol production plant.

However, it’s not so long ago that Wacol endured supply shortfalls that led to the short-term importation of some fully built-up models and consequently, concerns about the factory’s long-term prospects. Quashing those concerns was, it appeared,

a major imperative when they were asked why Wacol remains so important to Volvo when Australia is, by any measure, such a fiercely demanding, hugely cost-competitive yet in volume terms, relatively small market?

Per-Erik started the ball rolling, succinctly stating, “We like competition and Australia has taught us a lot.”

But it was his boss who appeared to revel in the opportunity. “Volvo last year had a record market share in Australia and we are very happy with what has been achieved,” an earnest Roger Alm remarked. “More than 4000 units (Mack and Volvo) makes Australia a solid and important business for Volvo and Wacol is a critical part of Volvo’s future. Its viability is very strong.”

As he has previously, he was also quick to confirm that electric trucks will be built in Wacol, though there’s still no timeline on when production might start.

Nonetheless, “Australia is a good market for us,” he concluded. “We like being there.”


MARCH 2024 61 ownerdriver.com.au


Isuzu Truck’s N-Series Readyto-Work range is quickly changing the mindset of ute owners across Australia

The year has been off to a busy start with trades and services back in the swing of things in spite of some wild weather and soaring temperatures.

Isuzu Trucks is ready to help crews and their tools get down to business with Ready-to-Work models suited to just about any Aussie trade or application: with a range of industry-specified and factory-built trucks set to go from saleyard to job site without any extra wait on build times.

And one of the best things about Isuzu’s Ready-to-Work range? It’s jam-packed with light-duty manual and AMT models sitting at the 4,500kg GVM mark – meaning any team member with a standard driver’s licence can lend a hand behind the wheel.

Ready, set, brew

The brothers of Outback Brewing Co, Adam and Peter Watts, are on a mission to ‘quench the thirst of every Australian’ with a line-up of delightful beers, craft ciders and alcoholic tipples.

They have some unusual products such a popular bubblegum cider (by Adam’s own account a ‘2am idea’) and an alcoholic lemon squash made with locally sourced fruit.

Business is bubbling along so well that Adam and Peter needed help to tackle the enviable problem of customer demand outpacing production (a familiar tale for many successful small business owners), leading them to the Isuzu dealership at Major Motors Isuzu in Forrestfield and the Ready-to-Work NLR 45-150 AMT Traypack.



With their new Isuzu Traypack, they’ve had no trouble delivering kegs of their handcrafted brews in the picturesque town of Chittering, which is burrowed into the northern hills of the Darling Range in Western Australia.

In a short wheelbase option, Isuzu’s NLR 45-150 AMT Traypack comes stacked with a nominal payload of just over 2,000kg, a 4,500kg GVM and 8,000kg GCM, which provides sufficient weight for the brothers, who don’t have to worry about overloading the tray with kegs for delivery.

Kitted out with a mobile cool room unit to keep kegs icy cold in the heat, the new truck has helped the brothers increase their productivity while doubling as an on-road advertising board.

“Everything the ute could do, it does better,” noted Adam.

“I used to tow a trailer with the ute, but now I don’t need a trailer. I can rock up to a beer fest with everything on

62 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
RIGHT: It’s all smiles for Isuzu customers Adam and Peter Watts of Outback Brewing Co OPPOSITE TOP: Outback Brewing Co’s Isuzu NLR 45-150 AMT Traypack; HRD Earthworks’ 4.5tonne GVM NMR 45-150 Tipper, ideal for tight worksites BOTTOM: HRD’s NPR 55-155 Tradepack boasts 5,500kg GVM and 9,000kg GCM Isuzu

the back and unload.

“This means one trip, not two or three, which we love.”

HRD jobs made easy

HRD Builders and HRD Earthworks are also big fans of Isuzu’s Ready-to-Work range, with owneroperator Reilly Hutchinson wanting turnkey transport that would take the team straight to site without any hassle.

Reilly acquired a 4.5-tonne GVM model NMR 45-150 Tipper, which features a robust tipper tray with an auto-release tailgate and quick 20-second raise-and-lower time.

The NMR Tipper’s size is tailored for navigating tight worksites, measuring in with a 2,490 mm wheelbase (SWB model) and a compact 1,815mm cab width.

While this light-duty Tipper is bolstering HRD’s ability to cart away rubble using a standard car driver’s licence, Reilly also wanted to balance his fleet with a medium-duty truck for larger works.

He decided on the NPR 55-155 Tradepack which delivers a 5,500kg GVM and 9,000kg GCM, plus a big 4.5-tonne towing capacity. Reilly also utilises the generous cab of the NPR Tradepack as an allin-one office for business meetings and important paperwork on the job site.

“Both our new Isuzu trucks have made things easier, reducing the amount of time that we need to tow a trailer because they’ve got so much tray space,” Reilly said.

“This matters when you’re driving through the inner city of Brisbane, when parking and getting in and out of a job is easier because you don’t have

a big trailer behind you.

“Especially with the NMR Tipper, it fits into backyards, car parks … anywhere you could expect to fit a car, you can fit this truck.

“I went with the Ready-to-Work NPR Tradepack specifically to cater for my building needs as I found there’s not many utes on the market that can tow and carry heavy loads at the same time.”

Isuzu Traypack deal

From January 1 through to March 31, 2024, Isuzu Trucks is giving trades and Aussie operators the opportunity to get down to business with minimal fuss and maximum payload with the NLR 45-150

SWB Traypack at a drive-away price of $57,990.*

The Traypack is packaged up with a threeyear Isuzu Essentials Service Agreement which offers the benefit of a streamlined maintenance experience plus the peace of mind that the truck will be kept in tip-top shape, no matter what is thrown at it.

There’s still time to take advantage of Isuzu Trucks’ Traypack deal, so visit your local Isuzu dealership or isuzu.com.au today.

*Terms & conditions apply, visit isuzu.com.au or your local Isuzu dealership for full details of the NLR 45-150 SWB Traypack Truck Drive away promotion

MARCH 2024 63 ownerdriver.com.au
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Foster the people

Rather than nurture professional operators, there’s a mindset to destroy simple training procedures

What does the good old ‘Tick and Flick’ Pre Trip Safety Check (PTSC) and those ugly little yellow pointers you see on the wheel nuts of an alarmingly growing number of heavy vehicles have in common? They are both the brainchild and designed to protect the butts of ‘the office dwelling, “I’ve never done your job, but my clipboard says you’re doing it wrong” keyboard pilots’. The other thing they have in common is that neither will ever contribute to the safety of a single driver.

You see the PTSC is just the simplest way to pass the buck from the dispatching party to the driver.

We all know the story – freight forwarders don’t care if you have been waiting to unload or reload all day. They know you have a job to do and they know because they have, in most cases, no monetary commitment to how long a driver and many hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment sit around waiting to be loaded/unloaded. They assume the driver has a family to feed and will do the trips they had planned no matter what. They realise the owner of the equipment has payments to make, wages to pay, fixed costs. They have no sympathy for third parties who show no respect for the people who carry their freight.

A driver has no option but to sign a PTSC – no sign, no load.

The correct torquing of a wheel nut can only be achieved by turning said nut until a torque measuring device indicates the desired torque has been reached. Not getting a three-quarter inch rattle gun on the end of said wheel nut and holding the trigger depressed until the holder of the gun starts to lose consciousness and the feeling in their hands does not achieve the correct torque.

But let’s assume the tyre fitter actually did the procedure correctly and then puts the little yellow pointers on properly, pointing to each other. What happens if, like in the case of off-road heavy vehicles, the mounting faces of the wheels and or hub are often contaminated with debris? I’ll tell you what happens, the nuts stay pointing to each other while actually possibly becoming loose due to the debris being ground to a powder and therefore allowing a gap to form between rims and hub.

So, what does all this mean? And what can we do about it?

Well, we need to start developing ‘operators’ like we used to do, and not simply license people who can pass a driving course. By this I mean, educate the

people who will be steering these trucks on how to conduct a proper pre, mid and post trip inspection.

During these inspections operators should be looking for signs of loose fittings and movement that do not require a torque wrench, but an educated observation.


The skills of so many good operators who are leaving the industry now through retirement, death or just plain being fed up with the current state of play, were often learned by mentoring from a young age. Either going to work with family or friends and observing, asking questions, witnessing things that went wrong, things that went well and building up a knowledge base that was the foundation of a great operator, the likes you see only rarely nowadays.

The very companies that stand on their soapbox and proclaim with absolute conviction that the way they suck eggs is the only way to do it, and ‘if you would just take this online course, unpaid and in your own time obviously, you will be a qualified egg sucker too’.

“Freight forwarders don’t care if you have been waiting to unload or reload all day.”

These are the companies that have single-handedly destroyed the simplest, yet best training system the transport industry has ever known. It will come as no surprise that they too have been the architects of the ‘Yellow Pointer’ era. The yellow pointers, PTSC forms and fluoro shirts go hand in hand and were only a knee jerk reaction by the large companies that incubated the problems that they then sought this pathetic ‘solution’ for.


In my town there is a young fellow I have had work with me on fleet maintenance at one of our local transport companies as part of his work experience program. He is absolutely obsessed with trucks. His spare time is spent at the local truck stop photographing trucks, speaking to drivers and generally feeding his passion for trucks. He is 16. He wants to come with me in a truck that I drive casually, yet corporate policy will not allow this.

The irony of this is that there is a mild driver shortage at this company. So, the pencil pilots have worked out another way. Rather than foster this passion, we should wait until he is 19, worked out the opposite sex are interesting, school has been over for one to three years and an income stream has begun to ‘allow’ him the ‘privilege’ of now getting a truck licence and, with absolutely no experience, start driving a heavy vehicle on public roads.

So, what does all this mean? Well simply, it means that we as an industry have let organisations run by people that are not capable of, or qualified to do our job, dictate the demise of our workforce and training system. There are still companies around that actually nurture professional operators, maintain vehicles properly, put in place real policies that come from experience from being on the ground. These companies do not add ineffective gimmicks to vehicles to pass the buck, rather they work with staff to cultivate staff and harvest good operators.

My suggestion is, you go find one of these companies that will nurture your skills to determine such things like if your wheels are falling off, rather than have you signed something that suggests they do not care if they do fall off because the driver signed a PTSC accepting all responsibility.

May your trucking be safe and profitable.

MARCH 2024 65 ownerdriver.com.au NRFA Gordo Mackinlay GORDO MACKINLAY is a former president and current board member of the National Road Freighters Association. To contact the NRFA see the website at www.nrfa.com. au, email info@nrfa.com. au or phone 0493 564 467.
Image: Siwakorn1933/Adobe Stock



Sales of Iveco’s Daily light truck cab chassis range continued their upward trajectory in 2023, with the model cementing its position as Australia’s favourite European manufacturer within the segment.

According to Truck Industry Council full year data for 2023, the Iveco Daily achieved 1,199 sales for the year, up 319 units or 36.25 per cent on the previous year in a segment that contracted by 1.6 per cent in 2023.

The data includes sales of Iveco’s 70C cab chassis; with a 7 tonne GVM boasting a 4 tonne payload.

Iveco says the Daily light truck cab chassis range cements its position as Australia’s favourite European manufacturer within the segment.

The strong overall performance was in part due to a model refresh last year that saw Daily provide additional safety and comfort features for prospective owners, along with revised styling.

Given its configuration where

the driver and front passengers are seated behind the front wheels rather than directly on top – as is the case in traditional cab-over light trucks – Iveco says the Daily offers a more supple and compliant ride, and car-like driving experience.

It is benefits such as this, along with robust truck underpinnings and a full suite of safety equipment that is seeing more buyers than ever consider the Daily range, according to Iveco national manager – light sales, Ben Osborn.

“There’s a growing awareness in the market about the advantages that Daily provides owners compared to many of its competitors,” Osborn says.

“Along with having the right specifications for a range of demanding applications – including availability of features such as rear differential lock and rear airbag suspension – the Iveco Daily is also extremely comfortable, ensuring less fatigue for owners who spend long hours behind the wheel either as part of their vocation, or simply getting to and from the work site each day.

“Variants such as the workready single and dual cab TradieMade models which come with fully built aluminium trays straight from the dealership, are also providing flexibility and extra convenience for buyers.”

Osborn says that increasing range of support offerings were also available for the Daily, helping to provide lower total cost of ownership benefits and additional peace of mind for owners.

These services include optional extended warranties, Iveco Maintenance Agreements and in-house financing.

“Many customers are now looking for complete solutions from their commercial vehicle purchases, allowing them to concentrate on their core businesses while letting IVECO manage and support their truck through its lifecycle,” Osborn continues.

“This interest in a hassle-free ownership experience extends to the way they’re purchasing their vehicles – customers who don’t require a specialist body are increasingly opting for the efficiency of a completely built truck. Iveco is looking to do more in the ‘work ready’ space in 2024.”

Iveco will also add to the Daily line-up in the coming months with the release of its new 7 tonne 4x4 range, while a preliminary allocation of its electric eDaily range which previewed at last year’s Brisbane Truck Show, will also begin work with selected customers.

Fuso has confirmed the next generation eCanter will come standard with a class-leading active safety package.

To be launched in May, the new vehicle will feature advanced emergency braking system (AEBS) technology, including the active side guard assist feature that can detect hazards down the side of the truck, such as moving pedestrians and cyclists, when turning left.

Fuso says the active side guard assist system is so advanced that after issuing an initial warning, the eCanter can automatically brake to avoid an impact in the event the driver does not respond.

Previously, the Fuso eCanter with active safety features was designed to keep the vehicle occupants and pedestrians safe, but the next generation truck is even safer again.

“Near silent electric trucks usually operate in high density areas with a lot of pedestrians and other road users, so active safety features are critically important,” says Daimler Truck Australia Pacific sales and marketing vice president, Andrew Assimo.

“The eCanter has a clear safety advantage with the most advanced active safety features that are fully integrated and, importantly, standard.”

Daimler Truck has had a long history of fitting advanced safety features as standard to its vehicles, including the introduction of radarbased active emergency braking in Australia back in 2012 on the Actros from Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

Daimler Truck Australia Pacific president and CEO, Daniel Whitehead, says safety is something that should be front of mind during the truck selection process.

“We always encourage customers to think about safety when they buy any kind of truck; electric or not. It does make sense that a company or person motivated to look after the environment and buy a battery electric vehicle would also want to look after whoever is driving the truck, other road users and pedestrians,” he says. “When safety is considered, the eCanter is the only choice in the class.”

The Next Generation eCanter is also fitted with the acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS), which generates artificial vehicle sounds at low speeds to warn other road users, as well as lane departure warning system (LDWS), an electric park brake, automatic headlights and electronic stability program (ESP).

Also standard are LED daytime running lights (DRLs), LED headlights and LED taillights, which Fuso says are 30 per cent brighter than equivalent halogen lights and also use less energy.

66 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au tech briefs
The Daily 70C cab chassis. Image: Iveco The Next Generation eCanter will be released in May. Image: Daimler Truck Australia



Hyundai Motor Company and Iveco Group have announced the signing of a supply agreement of an Iveco-badged all-electric light commercial vehicle for Europe, based on Hyundai’s Global eLCV platform. The new vehicle will join Iveco Group’s electric light commercial vehicle lineup, enhancing the Group’s LCV portfolio alongside the Iveco Daily.

The supply agreement signing ceremony, which took place at Hyundai Motor Company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on February 1, was attended by Jaehoon Chang, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company; Ken Ramírez, executive vice president and head of Global Commercial Vehicle & Hydrogen Business at Hyundai Motor Company; Gerrit Marx, CEO of Iveco Group; and Luca Sra, president, Truck Business Unit, Iveco Group.

Hyundai Motor and Iveco Group initiated their partnership in March 2022 and have since generated concrete results related to hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, including the co-development of the eDaily FCEV and the launch of the E-Way FCEV city bus.

The new agreement not only signifies an extension of their partnership to encompass a broader array of eco-friendly lineups, but also underscores the shared commitment of both companies to accelerate the transition toward carbon-neutral mobility and transport.

The Iveco-badged vehicle will be the first export model to apply Hyundai’s new Global all-electric Light Commercial Vehicle (eLCV) platform, a dedicated global EV platform made for commercial vehicles ranging from GVW 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes. The innovative platform features Hyundai’s latest technology for next generation BEVs with a low-floor design that

When it comes to managing emissions, replacing the DPF filter is expensive! It not only involves the cost of parts and labour but also results in vehicle downtime, which can lead to a loss of income.

When DPF regenerations start taking longer to complete, it’s only a matter of time before the forced regeneration fails, causing the DPF to block and necessitating an external clean or replacement.

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all carbon deposits from the DPFs, even while the vehicle is driven n e no ma o e a n con ons.

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FTC Decarbonizer can be added directly to the fuel supply of the affected vehicle or added to bulk fuel storage. Reducing emission control problems does not need to be a costly exercise and can be achieved at minimal expense.

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allows enhanced usability for cargo loading and carrying, designed to fit the emerging needs of future electrified Purpose Built Vehicles in the market.

Under the partnership, Hyundai will manufacture and supply the Iveco-badged chassis cab for the European market and Iveco Group will locally customise and distribute the complete vehicles exclusively through its sales channels.

Iveco Group’s new product based on Hyundai’s Global eLCV platform will have its launch at this year’s IAA Transportation 2024, planned to be held from September 16 to 22, in Hanover, Germany.


partnership between Iveco Group and Hyundai Motor Company is making another significant step forward.

“The introduction of this new all-electric vehicle is particularly exciting for the European market, where urban and suburban distribution and delivery are crucial missions for logistics operators.

“We are confident that this agreement will not only strengthen our product offering but will also deepen our relationship with Hyundai, paving the way for continued collaborative projects that advance a more sustainable society.”

MARCH 2024 67 ownerdriver.com.au
Luca says the unique Hyundai and Iveco in EV partnership. From left: Jaehoon Chang, Ken Ramirez, Luca Sra and Gerrit Marx. Image: Hyundai
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View from the gallery

New legislation gives owner-drivers the power to control how and when they work

After 20 years of campaigning, reform to set minimum standards in transport has finally passed the Parliament. I sat in the gallery with other truckies and transport gig workers as the Senators voted. Two decades of a fight for legislation that was at times extremely tough – and at other times extremely heartening –concluded with a bang.

Sitting up in the gallery of the Senate chamber was like being at a football match and cheering on your team. As the vote passed, the Senators that voted with us all stood up and cheered us on too.

It’s surreal to think back over the last 20 years of struggle now that the battle for legislation is won, and the industry has united behind it. Even those like the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) that trashed the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and helped bring the whole tribunal down – rather than working together to fix errors in the system – eventually

backed in the legislation to set minimum standards for our industry.

At the end of the day, industry unity was the key to this success. Back in 2003, it never seemed possible that we’d be fighting for this together. But as the industry has gotten worse and worse, with more going broke, more deaths on the roads, and the threat of gig economy exploitation ending our careers, we’ve come together to fight for the solution to the problem.


It’s hard not to reflect on the journey to get to this point.

Twenty years ago, in my old truck, I did a road trip from Townsville to Canberra, visiting all the local mayors of all the towns. I reminded them that truck drivers having safe conditions and fair pay was essential for road safety in their communities – even if we were just passing through. I was accompanied by Transport Workers Union officials who tag-teamed with stints from Townsville to Brisbane,

Brisbane to Newcastle, and Newcastle to Canberra. At Parliament House, my open trailer became the stage for a protest calling on the Federal Government to act.

Another time, we blockaded the Ipswich Road – a notorious road for bad accidents. As truck drivers always racing to meet tight deadlines, it feels unnatural to block a road and hold up traffic. We didn’t want to disrupt people but we did need to make a point. I think the point was well made – considering the cops showed up to arrest us!

“We didn’t want to disrupt people but we did need to make a point.”

Over the years, I’ve joined half a dozen convoys with truckies right across the country clogging up roads to draw attention to our fight for a safer industry. I’ve spoken to dozens upon dozens of politicians about why we need regulation to help us earn a sustainable wage.

There’s no point regulating standards in trucking unless the top of the supply chain is held to account. Over the years, we protested Woolworths, Coles and Aldi over their role in cost-cutting that pushes us to take dangerous risks to stay afloat.

This legislation is the answer to many problems faced by ownerdrivers. Standards will apply to the whole industry, including the gig economy. It will capture the whole supply chain from top to bottom.

When the gig economy came on the scene, it took a lot of us some time to realise what a threat it was to our livelihoods. I’ve met a lot of the gig workers in transport and heard their stories. The more I heard about rates being slashed, companies taking no responsibility for pressuring workers to rush and then washing their hands of responsibility when accidents happened, the more I identified with them and understood what the gig economy could do to transport.

It was heart-warming to see the faces of the gig workers beside me in the gallery light up as the Senate passed the reform.

There are similarities for gig workers and owner-drivers, except for them things are even worse. Rather than operating as an independent business, they are cogs in a machine, controlled by apps – not even having a human to talk to or negotiate with. It wouldn’t take much for transport operators to move to an app-based or piece-rate system to hand out work. And that would be the end of the limited autonomy we do have.

This system gives us all power to take back control over how and when we work. With minimum standards, we won’t have to argue for a sustainable rate or safe conditions on every job.

But having the system isn’t enough – it’s about how we use it. We have to continue working together to get standards in place as soon as possible. The years of fighting should be behind us. We won’t always see eye to eye, and we’ll always be looking after our own interests, but we’ve found common ground to fight for this and we should build on that to use it properly.

70 MARCH 2024 ownerdriver.com.au
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. Image: Prime Creative Media
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