Transcript - Electronic Work Diaries press conference

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, it’s fantastic to be here this morning with my Minister for Road Safety and Roads, Scott Buchholz from Queensland - still smarting over last night’s State of Origin result but never mind. And I’ve also got the Chairman of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator office, that’s Duncan Gay. And Sal Petroccitto, who is the CEO of that fine organisation. 

I can remember growing up as a kid and being in the front seat of Dad’s old Dodge. And Dad would be sitting there behind the driver’s wheel, pulled over on the side of the road, filling out his heavy vehicle forms, filling out all that paperwork that needed to be done. And today we’re moving on from that. That was many years ago. Today, it’s 2020 and we need to get the electronic work diaries into the 21st century and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the help of two fabulous Australian companies – Step Global and Teletrac Navman. We’re making sure that we’re getting the electronic work diaries into the 21st century. If you counted up all the paperwork that is filled out by truckies across this nation – and they do a fantastic job – if you counted up all the paperwork they do, it would account to 14 B-doubles worth of paperwork. Now the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and other officials, have to go through that paperwork. When the truckie is pulled up on the side of the road the police officer or some state official has to also look at that and it’s hard work. It’s productivity that is lost. It’s efficiency that’s being lost. So, we’re getting into the 21st century. We’re making sure that with the help of these two fabulous Australian companies that we’re getting the technology where it needs to be. And this is going to cut through the paperwork. It’s going to cut through the time. It’s going to make it easier for all concerned. Whether it’s the truckie, whether it’s the owner-operator, whether it’s, indeed, the person on the side of the road or back in the office somewhere in a capital city or a regional headquarters checking through that material to make sure that everything is as it should be with fatigue and whatnot, that it is being done properly. So, I commend the two companies. I commend the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, a great organisation, making sure that we get those efficiency and productivity operations happening. Today is a really, really good day as far as this is concerned. Electronic work diaries, now it’s going to be technology plus. 

SCOTT BUCHHOLZ

Well thanks, Deputy Prime Minister. It’s great to be here this morning on such a significant announcement for the transport industry. It seems bizarre that for 50 years we’ve been using logbooks that are still reliant on the basic technology or principles of carbon paper. Now, the new announcements that we’re making today in conjunction with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator does away with the logbook. It does away with it. Any tablet that they’re trialling – the Samsungs, some of the other products that are available on the market – you’ll simply be able to download this technology as an operator. No longer will you be haunted by hundreds and hundreds of dollars of fines for misspelling a destination, for incorrectly putting a time, for a comma or a dot being misplaced on a logbook. All of that’s behind you if you take up the voluntary technology that we’re introducing today. 

The other additional benefits is when you get to the end of your trip with an electronic work diary, the capacity to raise an invoice to your client straight away and hopefully by the time you do your return trip the money’s sitting in your account when you get home, depending on how your operation and your administration is set up. But these advancements have been called for by the industry for some years. And I want to acknowledge the good work done by Sal and Duncan Gay from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for progressing, for listening to the industry, for engaging with them in consultation and taking those ideas to the market, to maturing them to what we have today – two international partners, partnering with Australian transport sector. It’s a tablet phone or an iPhone or a phone-type technology, download it, or you can by their tablets, whatever and if you’re challenged by a law enforcement officer you just simply give them the tablet where you’ve captured your information. They stick it into a compliance mode, they download it, hopefully you are fine-free and away you go. Now, of course, there will be those opponents who say that this technology shouldn’t be taken up. Those people are people who probably run two or three logbooks and may not be running as honestly as they should. But these advancements are absolutely welcomed by the Morrison-McCormack Government. They’re welcomed by the majority of the industry and I’d now like to call on Duncan to say a few words on behalf of the work they’ve done. Thank you, Duncan.  

DUNCAN GAY

Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister. These things (holding the paper work log) have been around since the 1970s. When I first started driving a truck in 1970 I was filling one of these in. We can remember the ‘70s. We can remember safari suits and we can remember Don Dunstan, and they’re about as relevant today and as useful today as Don Dunstan or a safari suit. So, we need to get rid of them. We need to get the technology. I’ve been doing road safety for about a decade now, firstly as a Minister in New South Wales and now as Chairman of the NHVR. This has taken longer than we wanted it to do. We were hoping to have this a couple of years ago, but we’ve finally got this new technology and it will make such a difference. I rate it nearly up there with RBT and flashing lights at schools, as far as safety is concerned because it addresses the biggest issue for heavy vehicles and that is, fatigue. 

The second thing it does, it allows productivity. It allows people to work to the maximum that they’re safely able to do. It removes that nuance where people weren’t sure what their hours were and what they needed to do. It removes the situation where a compliance officer could pull you up on the side of the road with a full load and everything done and everything in order and give you a ‘bluey’ because the spelling wasn’t correct. And they were the rules under these archaic old things.

So finally, we’ve got something new that fixes that up. And we think it’s a huge step forward and we congratulate the two companies – one in New South Wales and one in Victoria. And we are hopeful that there’ll be more competition in the marketplace before Christmas with extra people coming in. 

It’s a great day for the industry. And you’ve got to remember that some of the best operators of our heavy vehicles across this country haven’t got the literacy of people in other industries. And their problems with spelling mistakes and things like that, they’re probably some of the best drivers, that are the safest drivers and look after the equipment better than anyone else, yet they’ve been hamstrung because of an archaic system. This new system will help make them safer and more efficient.

So, thank you, Duncan and to those two companies – Teletrac Navman and to Step Global – we say thank you. We look forward to working with you. I know the NHVR is doing just that. Of course, as Scott Buchholz has just said, this is completely voluntary. But it is getting the technology into the 21st century. 

I also must thank Declan too, for bringing down this Kenworth, proudly manufactured and made right here in Australia. And Declan tells me that orders for Kenworths and other Australian-manufactured gear is going through the roof thanks to the instant asset write-off being, of course, changed in the Budget so that companies can buy any capital investment and repay it, of course and write it off completely in the year of investment. So that is a fantastic thing. And I’m sure Scott Buchholz got quite excited when he saw the big Kenworth. He’s a big trucker himself from way back and I know this is a very exciting day. 

Thank you.