BIC National E-Bulletin 2021 May

National Update from the Bus Industry Confederation [May 2021 Edition]

In this edition of the national bulletin, we provide a miniature overview of the federal budget including a snapshot for tourism.
We also provide an update on our progress with the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport and take a look at
recent government announcements relating to electric vehicles. The BIC team would like to extend commiserations to our mates
in Victoria in the repetitive mist of yet another lock-down. For 6 million-plus Australians, this is a lock-down expected to
dole out a heavy cost to the business economy – $2bil in just 7 days.
National Spotlight

Your Industry, Your Workplace

National Spotlight 


Federal budget – at a glance
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down his 2nd covid budget on 11 May 2021. A budget that has a plan to “secure Australia’s economic recovery” and to “keep Australians safe”. With an eye to the next federal election, the Treasurer has announced a ‘big-spending’ budget that focuses on lowering unemployment, infrastructure, women and aged care.

Headline measures announced in the Budget include a $15 billion increase to infrastructure spending, $20.7 billion in tax relief for businesses over the forward estimates by extending current schemes, $7.8 billion in tax relief for low and middle-income earners and a $1.7 billion package for childcare subsidy increases. The Treasurer believes that the budget will “guarantee the essential services Australians rely on” while also providing incentives to businesses to “unleash a further wave of investment”.

Infrastructure spending continues to feature prominently in this year’s Budget, with a sizeable $110 billion in funding promised over the next decade to build and upgrade roads, rails and bridges. This will include new funding of $2 billion for a new Intermodal Terminal in Melbourne and more than $2 billion to upgrade the Great Western Highway in NSW.

An additional $1.9 billion has been allocated to support the rollout of vaccines, taking the Government’s total spend on the vaccine rollout and health system response to $20 billion. The BIC is in the process of preparing a joint letter with the ARA to seek federal government support for frontline public transport staff to be included in phase 1a and 1b. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this initiative.

The key parameters for 2021-2022 include:

  • $161 billion deficit (this year, the deficit was $52.7 billion lower than was expected in last year’s Budget handed down in
    October. The deficit is expected to fall to $57 billion in 2024‑25)
  • $617.5 billion in net debt, equal to 30 per cent of GDP
  • Real GDP to grow by 4.25 per cent
  • Unemployment rate to fall to 5 per cent, from 5.6 per cent
  • $445.6 billion in total tax receipts
  • An additional $15.2 billion in spending on infrastructure
  • 250,000 jobs to be created by the end of next financial year.

The budget impacts for tourism

Of the $1.8 billion to support tourism, a staggering $1.2b is dedicated to the continuance of support programs for the tourism aviation network and domestic aviation network including flight ready crews and maintaining international aircraft (in preparation for border re-open). The budget also included the extension of $94.6m supporting Australia’s exhibiting zoos and aquariums, tourism support for the Great Barrier Reef and a travel subsidy extension for passenger vehicles crossing the Bass Strait.

The BIC acknowledges that the “Holiday Here This Year” is vital to the survival of tourism operators when our international borders still remain shut (aside from New Zealand). It is clear, however, from the BIC’s various correspondence to the Deputy PM, that the federal government takes the view that the coach tourism sector will be a flow-on beneficiary and will not be receiving any direct funding. It is also abundantly clear, that the National Cabinet struggles to find common ground on the treatment of Covid outbreaks and domestic border closure policy. The BIC will continue our work with the federal government and it is just as important that coach businesses knock louder on the doors of local government representatives and state parliamentarians.

School bus exemption from the new Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport

To regular readers of our national bulletin, you would be aware of the mammoth task currently being undertaken by the BIC in the Commonwealth’s review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (Transport Standards). The BIC is heavily engaged in the review of 21 reform areas and although the review process is colossal, the fact is, Australia enjoys a high quality fleet of buses and coaches on our roads and the current specification of a bus has long surpassed a range of outdated regulations in the Standards.

The BIC’s overall position is to support and propagate updates to the Standards to reflect current practices as well as address areas where: a) the Standards lacked detail or b) compliance could not be clearly proven or demonstrated.

A recent bugbear in the bureaucratic wrestling room is the review of the current exemption that applies to dedicated school buses – in short – whether such an exemption is still applicable; it is seen by some groups to not be in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disability (2006). At this stage of negotiations, the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport is fully understanding of the BIC’s position of ongoing exemption for school buses and the push-back coming from other stake holders is falling a little flat. The BIC will keep you informed of our progress.

Driver Control Survey from the National Transport Commission

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is undertaking a survey of commercial drivers to gain an understanding of drivers awareness of their obligations regarding the control of a vehicle. The NTC has requested assistance from the BIC to circulate the survey to all bus and coach drivers across Australia.

The survey is intended to be completed by drivers and should take less than 10 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. The survey can be completed online by going here.

The survey will be open until 4 June 2021.

The outcomes of this research will be used to assist the public, road transport industry and law enforcement agencies with their understanding of driver obligations regarding the control of a vehicle, as well as the intent and purpose of the Australian Road Rules in relation to the use of technology by drivers.

The state of affairs with electric vehicles
We felt that electric passenger vehicles was worth a mention in this bulletin considering that the SA and ACT governments both announced, in the last week, significant funding to support the take-up of private ‘zero emission vehicles’ (ZEVs) by the Australian consumer.

The ACT with its ambitious target of zero emissions by 2045, has seriously ramped up their zero-agenda. From the 27th of May, all newly purchased ZEVs will receive two years of free registration in the ACT. Eligible ACT residents and businesses can apply for the free registration for ZEVs purchased or acquired from 27 May 2021 until 30 June 2024.

Andrew Barr, Minister for Climate Change made this announcement as just one part of the zero emission program which also includes “encouraging active travel and improving public transport”. The ACT already operates with 100% renewable electricity supply – so perhaps it is not such a hard stretch for the government to ‘lead the world’ reaching net-zero by 2045.

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000kms to the west of the ACT, the Marshall Government announced a $13.4 million investment to end ‘range anxiety’ with the installation of 530 fast charging stations across the state. The outcome? –  “electric cars to be the preferred choice for households and businesses by 2030, and the default choice by 2035” – less than 9 years to reach their ‘preference target’. More than 600 sites have already registered including supermarkets, motels, holiday parks and petrol stations.

Your Industry, Your Workplace


The View from Canberra
In May’s edition of the View from Canberra, the BIC Secretariat takes a look at why we do the things we do. Advocacy and having a strong presence in Canberra is important because it drives growth in our industry and keeps away bad regulation that will make it harder to run your business. Above all else we do what we do to make our industry stronger and bus businesses more viable in the future. The more money invested in public transport the more that people use it, and this generates more demand for your bus services and your bus products. To get your copy of the latest View from Canberra go to the website.

The Latest News from APTIA
In this month’s edition of “Everybody Out”, APTIA takes a look at:

  • wage rates and where they are headed which will help you with negotiations for pay rises
  • answers to some of the tricky vaccination questions, such as: “Can I insist in my workforce being vaccinated?”
  • issues which Labor has been advocating in the lead up to the next Federal election.

Updated employment templates for casual employees
APTIA has posted on its website an update to the employment template documents including:

  • Template casual clause
  • Template casual conversion clause
  • Draft template letter not to offer conversion to a casual school bus driver
  • Draft letter of employment as a casual school bus driver
  • Draft letter of offer of conversion to a bus driver
  • Draft letter not to offer conversion to an existing bus driver
  • Draft letter not to accept a request from an employee to convert.

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

An Updated Casual Employment Information Statement can also be found on the APTIA website.