BIC National E-Bulletin 2021 July

National Update from the Bus Industry Confederation [July 2021 Edition]
As 10,000-plus athletes gather in Tokyo to represent their countries on the world stage, sadly at the opening of the Olympics, more than half of Australia’s population was in lock-down. As the home of the BIC secretariat is located in the protected inland island of Canberra, there is little to no ripple effect to ‘normal life’ here (we still have a peak hour!). The BIC team extends our well-wishes to all Aussies doing it tough out there. As covid is dominating so much of industry, it does feature strongly in this edition of the national bulletin. National Spotlight Your Industry, Your Workplace
National Spotlight
The BIC Team expands with a new Executive Director The BIC is pleased to announce that following an extensive recruitment process, Roz Chivers has been appointed to the role of Executive Director of the BIC. The position attracted nearly 40 applicants, the quality of which was very high providing the interview panel with a range of skills and experience to choose from. It was the unanimous view of the interview panel that Roz was the best fit for the BIC role. Roz was most recently employed as the Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director – Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Local Government Association based in Canberra. She also has an extensive background in both the public and private sectors in NSW and the ACT in areas closely aligned to the BIC agenda. It needs to be noted that Roz does have background and enthusiasm for passenger transport as evidenced by her past workplace experience in leading:
  • the transport planning team for the ACT Government at the time when the government shifted its focus to sustainable transport
  • the development of the Belconnen to City Busway project and a range of behaviour change projects to encourage people to use public or sustainable transport as part of their daily commute; this included a ‘walking school bus’ project
  • various initiatives with regional bus operators on projects to tempt regional commuters to use buses rather than cars on their daily commute to Canberra.
Roz will commence as the Executive Director of BIC on 2 August 2021. The new “new national plan” to combat Covid On 30 July, PM Scott Morrison came out of the weekly national cabinet meeting to announce a new national plan to manage Australia’s COVID-19 response, recent outbreaks of COVID-19 and the Australian COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy. The final component of the 4-phase plan endeavours to take Australia to pre-pandemic conditions. Underpinning the success of the new plan is the vaccination rollout – the PM was emphatic about all Australian’s committing to being vaccinated in order for the plan to succeed. To date 12,005,978 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia. This translates to 18% of Australia’s population being fully vaccinated. In the current Phase A, early, stringent and short lockdowns remain in place if outbreaks occur. In order to move to Phase B, a national average of ~70% fully vaccinated Australians is required. In this phase, lockdowns would rarely be needed, and it is reasonable to assume that fully vaccinated people would contribute to eased restrictions and minimal (or no) lockdowns/border closures in any outbreak. More international students and economic visitors will also be allowed in. Looking closely at this plan, we may not reach Phase B until the 1-st half of next year….a sobering thought. The Gaetjens Task Force (appointed by the PM’s Department in February 2021), is essentially charged to recalibrate policy settings for dealing with outbreaks to ensure responses are proportionate. The taskforce provided a comprehensive spreadsheet to the national cabinet ahead of their meeting on 30 July, offering a detailed view of what might, could or will happen based on a 4-phase plan. Download the Gaetjens report here. Download the summary from the PM’s Department here. Where does the LDTC sector sit in the “new national plan” It is BIC’s view (in the short term at least) that state/territory covid responses are likely to be juxtaposed to any ‘national policy’. So much will depend on how well Australian’s take-up the vaccination program and how efficient the government can be in ensuring vax stock and rollout. Lock-downs and border closures will continue to be subjective – but there appeared to be some agreement in National Cabinet that if lock-downs were to happen, these should be introduced early and be of short duration. Recent point in case is Qld locking down 11 LGAs at 4pm on 31 July for 3 days, due to 6 cases (now 9 at the time of compiling this bulletin). Qld also has closed borders to the whole of SA, Vic and NSW. Phase A does include a pilot program for the entry of student and economic visa holders, subject to quarantine arrangements and availability. Phase A also supports digital vaccination authentication to be recognised at international borders – this could be promising as a number of other countries are currently doing this or have made a start towards that goal (incl. US, UK, Europe, France, Singapore and China). Once a significant number of Australian’s are vaccinated during Phase A, 2-way quarantine free travel may get a green light with low-medium risk countries. National Moving People Conference and National Awards The BIC is continuing with our plans to provide a national forum for industry to come together face to face in Brisbane Nov 21 to 24. The plenary program is currently being finalised and will include:
  • The new now – preparing for the trends that will dominate a post-Covid world
  • Australian Bus Scene panel comprised of various operator representatives across all sectors, reflecting on ‘what happened in 2020 and 2021’ and the forward thinking
  • We will hear from a Chief Economist on Australia’s economic outlook
  • Chief of Policy and Research at Infrastructure Australia will also update delegates on their advice to government and recommendations for transport reforms for the next 5 years
  • a block-buster zero-emission session covering the technical aspects and options of the bus and delivery of services and also the transitioning imperatives for bus operators
  • We will hear from the NHVR, the NTC and the Commonwealth’s Road Safety Office and Department of Infrastructure & Transport on various regulation and reforms currently happening and in the pipeline
  • The evolution of Door to door services and micromobility and an update on the progress of On Demand and MaaS
  • The National Industrial Relations update will be a must-attend session in light of the current review of the Modern Award in the treatment of casuals and the pending Sexual Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Bill.
We intend to publish full details of the program, accommodation and registration in the coming weeks. Mark your diary for November 21-24. Due to the 2020 gap year for conferencing and events, the full suite of National Awards have not been held since 2018. This is a great opportunity for industry to recognise and reward excellence within every facet of the Australian bus and coach industry. And surely with the challenges over the past 18 months, there are a plethora of super-star organisations out there leading the way. Get onto your nominations by going to the conference website.
Your Industry, Your Workplace
The View from Canberra In this edition of the View, the BIC looks at the imperatives for public transport operators in the vax or no-vax question for Employees. The BIC has long advocated for public transport to be acknowledged as an essential service – a service that should be a basic fundamental right for all Australians. Interestingly, it seems to be lost on governments that PT in fact provides a service to other industries considered as essential services. It is our view that PT (an ‘essential service’) is part of the ‘front-line’ and therefore many employees in our industry are at-risk. There are a number of issues that will need to be considered as the vaccination program ramps-up:
  • providing paid leave to employees who get their two jabs
  • time off for dealing with side effects from the vaccinations
  • incentives, such as discounted buying, to encourage vaccinations
  • preference to vaccinated drivers in high-risk work, in line with recent decisions of the Fair Work Commission which have endorsed termination of aged and day care workers who have refused the vaccinations.
The Latest News from APTIA In this month’s edition of “Everybody Out”, APTIA takes a look at:
  • All you need to know about your rights as an employer during a lockdown.
  • Regulations which make sexual harassment a basis for serious misconduct.
  • The decision of the Fair Work Commission to vary all modern awards, following recent legislation, which defined casual employment and introduced a new NES of casual conversion.
  • The large payout against an employer for breaches of sexual harassment laws.
Go to the APTIA website to download the July edition of Everybody Out. Lockdowns – what does it mean for your workforce? Justice Iain Ross AM has convened meetings with employer and employee stakeholders to ascertain whether variations are needed to the modern awards, including the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2020 to enable employers to reduce an employees’ hours of work, require employees to take part annual leave and to offer to employees, other work to keep them employed. There may be circumstances, however, where none of the measures apply. Employers need to understand how the ‘stand-down’ provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 may apply to these circumstances. Go to the Industry News section on the APTIA website for more information. FWC hands down a draft determination on the review of modern awards The FWC had handed down a decision, as part of their review of modern awards, precipitated by the introduction of a legislative definition of ‘casual employment’ and the introduction of a new casual conversion clause into the National Employment Scheme. The FWC has reviewed 6 awards thus far and as the reviewed Pastoral Award 2020 most closely resembles the PVTA, we felt it was prudent that we alert you to where things are headed. The changes include:
  • A definition of casual employment in section 15A of the FWA will apply
  • The NES casual conversion provisions will replace the current conversion clause in the Award
  • All changes to commence by 27 September
We are obviously keeping a close eye on these developments as all Awards will be reviewed prior 27 September.