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Northern states get road infrastructure boost
Federal government to spend $140 million in Queensland, $130 million in NT and $90 million in WA
The federal government has rolled out a funding program to support road infrastructure development in Australia’s north.
The Northern Australian Roads Programme aims to fund high-priority projects that are essential to support economic development in the region.
The federal government’s 80:20 funding partnership with Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory Governments involves a total $360 million spending on road upgrade projects.
The program will see over $140 million being invested on roads in Queensland, over $130 million in the NT and over $90 million in WA.
"The Australian Government has worked with the northern jurisdictions to identify priority projects to support economic development and regional communities, making it easier for people and freight to travel vast distances," agriculture and water resources minister Barnaby Joyce says.
The government has plans to spur growth in the region through "targeted" investment in key projects, including road infrastructure, he says.
""We will continue to work with the state government and local communities to identify priorities for further investment to benefit both the region and the national economy."
Key projects in Qld include:
NT projects include:
WA projects include:
Infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester says the funding will not only support regional economic growth, it will also improve safety and reliability of critical routes.
NT chief minister Nicole Manison says the Outback Way provides a strategic east-west link across central Australia and is a key link for various industries.
"The Plenty Highway, which is part of the Outback Way, has been identified by the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association as a key road for cattle industry growth in Central Australia.
"The Keep River Road upgrade is of serious local importance—by supporting proposed infrastructure projects such as Project Sea Dragon and Ord Stage 3 it has the potential to stimulate economic development and population growth.
"The Adelaide River Floodplain is notorious in the Top End for wet season closures.
"This project will provide all-weather access across the 5.3km floodplain for the extractive industries, tourism, defence as well as Territorians in Arnhem Land."
Electronic diary duress if reform effort falters
Electronic logbooks will only make the job of Australia’s truck drivers harder, a leading road safety advocate says
Electronic work diaries (EWD) are "doomed to fail" without also reforming the trucking industry, says one of Australia’s top transport fatigue researchers.
EWD's are a "side issue" to the main cause of fatigue, which is commercial pressures in transport, says Professor Ann Williamson from the University of New South Wales.
"There’s nothing wrong with electronic work diaries in themselves, but I don’t think they are going to solve any problems when the problems are about the way work is done in the industry," Williamson says.
"There’s no point in putting electronic diaries in trucks where the truck drivers are being motivated to push the envelope.
"It won’t work, it puts extra pressure on and is just doomed to fail.
"The worry is they will become the main focus of enforcement for truck drivers who will have these inflicted on them.
"I think that has a real danger that it will just add to the stress and the tension that drivers already experience about ‘I’m late, my customers are waiting for me, but damn, the logbook is coming up as well and they will know that I’m two minutes over – or 10 minutes over if you have an 8-minute leeway – and I’ll be in trouble for it’.
"That isn’t helping anyone really when the reason I’m over is because the traffic was bad and all the realities of doing this kind of job.
"So I don’t think EWD’s really solve anything."
Williamson says tougher enforcement in general is "fine to a point", but won’t tackle the root economic pressures behind excessive hours, speeding and poor vehicle maintenance.
Amongst other things she advocates the return of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal – of which she was a part-time member – or something like it.
Williamson was speaking at the recent Australasian Road Safety Conference in Canberra, where she was awarded the annual top gong for road safety professionals.
She is director of the Transport and Road Safety Research Centre at the University NSW, and amongst other trucking issues has been researching driver fatigue for decades.
StarTrack and Australia Post named top couriers
Australian small businesses have judged StarTrack and Australia Post as the best courier services in the country, as part of consumer research company Canstar Blue’s service awards.
Australia Post took out first place at the 2015 and 2014 awards. StarTrack was considered separately for the first time this year and achieved five stars in the value for money, speed of delivery, pick up service, call centre, problem resolution and website/app categories.
The award caps a stirring year for Australia Post, which recently announced a profit after tax of $36 million following a strong 2015-16 FY.
German companies in bidding war over Haldex
The battle between Knorr-Bremse and ZF over Swedish braking expert, Haldex, has intensified over the weekend, with both companies raising their cash offers.
Knorr-Bremse raised its cash offer from 110 to 125 Swedish crowns (AU19.45) per share, valuing Haldex at 5.53 billion crowns (AU860 million).
However, the company emphasised the offer would only be valid if it was able to obtain more than 50 per cent of Haldex shares.
ZF, which already controls some 21 per cent of Haldex’s total share capital, responded by raising its offer to 120 (AU18.67) crowns from 110 crowns, Reuters reported.
The conditions of ZF’s bid – valuing Haldex at 5.29 billion crowns (AU823 million) – reportedly remained unchanged.
They, too, require ZF to hold more than 50 per cent of Haldex’s shares after the expiry of the acceptance period in early October.
Haldex's acting Chairman, Magnus Johansson, said the Board would meet to assess the new situation, and that it was likely to issue its view on the bids on Monday, Reuters said.
The newswire quoted a person “close to ZF” as saying, "ZF is as determined as Knorr-Bremse to take over Haldex".
Finding that reliable part
To the uninitiated, the world of aftermarket parts can be quite confusing – and the fact that the same component made by the same company can be available in different boxes is just part of the problem.
The state of Australia’s spare parts market is a topic close to Dr Peter Hart’s heart. As Chairman of the Australian Road Transport Suppliers’ Association (ARTSA) and principal of a private consulting firm, he has a direct link to the nation’s component manufacturing community and is acutely aware of the regulatory issues it has overcome to uphold a stable supply chain.
“As opposed to the Original Equipment (OE) realm, the aftermarket world still has a bit of a Wild West feel to it,” he says – pointing out that Australia has no coherent standard in place to protect a commercial truck fleet from buying a potentially dangerous product. “People are often surprised to learn that in Australia, most truck replacement parts do not need to meet a technical standard, even if there is one in place. There is also no supervision of replacement part quality by state road agencies, so it is up to the buyer alone to beware.”
With online trade booming and the increasing proliferation of all-makes outlets – driven by OEMs and third party suppliers alike – Peter says that lack of regulation has led to a situation where purchasing a part must be viewed as a safety risk in itself. “The aftermarket has become a complex eco-system with a unique language where myths and misconceptions about parts options abound. That complexity makes it difficult for fleet managers to know which type of part – genuine, factory replacement, aftermarket replacement, will-fit, private label, all makes, white box, rebuilt or remanufactured (see breakout box, ed.) – is best for a truck at which stage of its life cycle. It’s become a guessing game.”
According to Peter, the industry’s increasing “demand for uptime” will only intensify the issue. “Uptime is the latest trucking industry buzzword, with manufacturers and service providers putting a lot of effort into getting a vehicle in and out of the workshop more quickly. That’s honourable, but I believe what it will do is put even more pressure on fleet managers, and in turn the aftermarket, to balance the lack of regulation with a sound just-in-time purchasing regime,” he explains.
“It doesn’t matter how quickly a technician can diagnose a problem; the repair will be put on hold until you have found the right part. As such, OEMs, workshops and transport businesses have to start formulating more coherent strategies to improve parts availability and meet the industry’s growing expectations in regard to uptime.”
He adds, “With that in mind, there is a real need to re-think our replacement parts policy as an industry,” he adds. “Let’s be honest – until there is an official recognition of ‘approved’ replacement parts in the current Australian Design Rules (ADR) framework, parts procurement is still very much a business risk.”
In the interim, Peter says transport businesses should be aware of some of the most common – and potentially misleading – misconceptions circulating in the industry.
Myth 1: There’s a minimum standard for parts in Australia
Myth 2: All parts are made equal
Myth 3: Price equals performance
Myth 4: It’s all about the name on the box
Myth 5: You can source everything online
Truckie jailed for fatal crash
A jury has found Mark Neill Ridley guilty of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
UPDATE: A truck driver who drove his B-Double into the back of a small car and killed the female driver will spend the next five months behind bars.
Judge Horneman-Wren said it was a "notoriously difficult" case.
Tragic Loss: Hatton Vale woman Linda Elliott was killed in a crash on the Warrego Highway Photo Contributed
EARLIER: A truck driver who crashed into a small car at Hatton Vale in 2014 asked the driver why she braked so hard as she lay dying in the tangled wreckage.
The conversation was retold at the Ipswich District Court yesterday during the trial of Mark Neill Ridley.
Ridley has pleaded not guilty to a serious charge following the fatal accident on the Warrego Hwy.
The court heard the section of the highway where the crash happened was undergoing roadworks at the time of the crash.
Ridley was driving a Kenworth prime mover coupled with two trailers when the truck collided with the rear of the woman's small Hyundai.
A witness at the scene of the crash, Annalisa Bowden, told the court she was travelling in the line of traffic behind the truck when the crash happened.
She said she entered the woman's car through a broken window and spoke to her for 20 minutes before she died.Ms Bowden also told the jury what the truck driver said to the woman.
Crown prosecutor Noel Needham told the court the charge came "as a result of dangerous driving on the behalf of the accused".Defence lawyer Stephen Kissick said his client was "driving quite conservatively" but there was "urgent stopping and it was very rapid".
The jury retired to deliberate their verdict last yesterday afternoon.
Driver freed after truck rollover in Midvale
Firefighters have freed a man from a cement truck after he lost control of the vehicle in Midvale.
The cement truck driver was traveling east on the Great Eastern Highway off ramp from Roe Highway when the truck tipped on its side at about 8.30am.
The man, in his early 40s, pinned his arm under the wreckage.
Firefighters used specialist equipment and the jaws of life to cut the man free from the cab.
Firefighters used specialist equipment and the jaws of life to cut the driver free from the cab. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian
DFES Midland Station Officer Jim Stevenson said the man was trapped for up to 40 minutes.
"His arm was pinned but not crushed completely," DFES Midland Station Officer Jim Stevenson said.
Mr Stevenson said the driver was in good spirits and was calm as officers worked to free him.
Industry veteran develops special driver bag
Australian truck drivers can now pack for the long haul with the launch of a specially designed bag by truck accessory maker, Next Journey.
According to the company, the the main features of the new ‘Truckie Bag’ include a log book pocket, security cards holders, a wet clothes compartment, spare shoes compartment, a padded internal pocket for laptops and other smart devices, quick entry front pocket for phone, wallet and keys and a water bottle holder, as well as a carry handle and should strap.
As part of each new Truckie bag purchase, Next Journey will donate $1 to national transport charity organisation, Trans-Help Foundation.
The Truckie Bag was developed by Next Journey founder and experienced truck driver, Simon Sutherland, whose family has been in the transport industry since 1954. Through extensive industry research and his own experieinces on the road, Sutherland was able to tailor the bag specific to Australian operators.
More details on the bag and other associated gear can be found at the Next Journey website.
ATO updates fuel tax credit advice
Entitlements guidance on powering auxiliary equipment and public road use
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has updated or added to its guidance on fuel tax credit entitlements on a number of points related to recent high-profile industry issues.
These are for the handling of fuel used to power auxiliary equipment, such as bin lifting equipment, for fuel used in idling and truck cabin air conditioning, and for toll roads.
The practical compliance guideline, Fuel tax credits - apportioning taxable fuel used in a heavy vehicle with auxiliary equipment PCG 2016/11, replaces PSLA 2013/4 (GA).
"There are percentages you can apply so you won't need to do complex," the ATO says.
The ATO has released a new fuel tax determination Fuel tax: fuel tax credits - fuel used for idling and cabin air-conditioning of a vehicle on a public road FTD 2016/1.
This explains that the fuel tax credit rate is reduced by the road user charge for fuel used in a heavy vehicle for idling on a public road and powering the air-conditioning unit of a main cabin when travelling on a public road.
The ATO has also clarified the explanation of a 'public road' in fuel tax ruling Fuel tax: vehicle's travel on a public road that is incidental to the vehicle's main use and the road user charge FTR 2008/1.
As far as it is concerned, a public road "is a road available for use by members of the public".
"For fuel used in heavy vehicles travelling on toll roads, bus lanes and busways, use the 'heavy vehicle for travelling on public roads' rate," the ATO says.
"You can continue to use the ‘all other business uses’ rate for fuel used for travelling on forestry, mining access and agricultural property roads as these are examples of roads that are not considered ‘public’.
"If you have not used the correct rate when calculating your fuel tax credits you will need to amend your BAS."
However, that position is to be tested if financial services firm Deloitte goes through with a challenge flagged in June.
An update on Deloitte’s intentions has been sought.
The full update can be found here.
Tribunal that set pay rates ‘exacerbated’ pressure on truck owner-drivers – report
Transport Workers’ Union hits back at small business ombudsman report, saying it ignores bankruptcies and hardship that existed prior to the axed tribunal
A report by the small business ombudsman has found a now-defunct tribunal which set minimum charge-out and pay rates for truck owner-drivers caused them financial hardship.
The report by Kate Carnell, released by the employment minister, Michaelia Cash, on Thursday found the majority of submissions from owner-drivers reported they would lose work if they had to increase their rates.
But the Transport Workers’ Union has hit back at the report, arguing it ignored systemic cost-cutting, bankruptcies and hardship that existed in the trucking industry before the imposition of the tribunal’s first pay order in April.
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) set minimum rates that truck owner-drivers had to charge to ensure they weren’t lowly paid and incentivised to skip breaks or neglect maintenance.
The government, with crossbench support in the Senate, abolished the RSRT in April over concerns it would put the owner-drivers out of work because they could not compete with drivers employed by larger trucking companies who were not subject to the order.
Carnell’s report found the order - which was only in effect for two weeks and was never enforced - made owner-drivers uncompetitive “exacerbating the competitive pressures already faced by owner-drivers”.
The inquiry received two submissions that in at least two instances people reported an owner-driver they knew had taken their own lives “as a consequence of financial pressure, at least in part” due to the payments order.
The ombudsman noted some observations from reports to government in 2014 and 2016 that questioned the link between pay and safety, but neglected to mention the 2016 PwC report found a “statistically significant” correlation between the two.
Carnell’s report concluded “safety in the transport industry should not be addressed by legislating rates of pay”. Tribunals are “not appropriate for developing complex industry-wide regulation that intervenes in market forces”, it said.
In comments to Guardian Australia the Transport Workers’ Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said that arbitration through the RSRT allowed negotiation and setting of safe pay rates before the government “overrode judicial independence” and abolished it.
He said the report was “despicable” because it attempted to link the “horrendous problems in our industry such as suicide” to the pay order in place for just two weeks.
“The newsflash for Kate Carnell is that these suicides, bankruptcies and hardships have been going on for years and a safe rates system will tackle them by forcing wealthy clients to stop paying unsustainable rates and setting unrealistic deadlines,” he said.
The union pointed to submissions to the inquiry from owner-drivers like Steven Melichar, who said in the 10 days the pay order was in effect his income had increased from $1,600 to $2,960 because he was paid for time to load and unload.
“Prior to the [order] and now again since the RSRT’s abolishment, I on average work six hours a day that is not paid for because my trucks wheels aren’t turning,” he submitted. Melichar reported feeling “more relaxed and refreshed” during the period of the order.
But Carnell’s report found such cases were the minority because 34.3% of respondents to an anonymous survey with just 138 respondents reported they suffered financial loss due to the pay order. Just 3.7% said the order was good for their business.
TWU assistant national secretary, Michael Kaine, said the increased pay rates were graduated and could have been phased in with a later start date but “the RSRT didn’t have time to work its way through” implementation issues due to its sudden abolition.
Sheldon and Kaine said it would be unlawful to sack an owner-driver because they had to charge the new increased rates.
At a press conference in Canberra on Thursday Cash said the union and Labor had used safety as a pretext to regulate pay when the former government introduced the RSRT. The pay order was “discriminatory” because it only applied to owner-drivers, she said.
The employment minister said the report included “evidence from the owner-drivers themselves that the work was drying up, there would literally be nothing left for them on the day the order came into force”.
“This report now confirms in black and white that is exactly what occurred - lives were devastated.”
Asked how the report could claim hardship was due to the order rather than conditions in the industry, including low pay before the order, Cash said that owner-drivers reported they were “already being told by the contractors they would not have jobs”. She said this did not constitute mere anecdotal evidence.
Cash said the 2016 PwC report did not find a “conclusive” link between pay and safety, and its consideration of peer-reviewed literature which demonstrated the link was “merely commentary in the reports”.
Port of Melbourne sold
The Victorian Government has successfully leased the Port of Melbourne for more than $9.7 billion to the Lonsdale consortium.
The Lonsdale Consortium, comprising of the Future Fund, QIC, GIP and OMERS signed a lease of the port’s commercial operations for a term of 50 years. “Through this lease, we are supporting our State’s vibrant regional communities, putting infrastructure and agriculture back at the heart of Victoria’s economic development,” said Luke Donnellan, Victorian Minister for Ports and Acting Minister for Regional Development.
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) supported the announcement. “The VTA welcomes the Victorian Government's lease of the Port of Melbourne,” said Peter Anderson, VTA Chief Executive. “The Port is one of the state's greatest assets and the magnitude of the lease underscores it's importance for safeguarding the economic prosperity of the state, which freight operators contribute significantly to. “The much needed funding the lease unlocks will significantly improve the state's transport networks, especially in regional areas. With the surplus funding of the $9.7 billion lease we hope that vital new infrastructure such as the North East Link can be seriously pursued.”
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said the lease must be accompanied by significant investment in road and rail infrastructure, linking the port to the wider transport network to maximise its economic contribution to Victoria and the nation.
“Now that an agreement has been reached on the long term lease of the Port, ALC encourages the State and Commonwealth Governments to prioritise infrastructure investment to the port to ensure it can meet its economic potential,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC Managing Director. “An appropriately regulated port, supported by efficient road and rail links, is vital to sustaining the Victorian economy and driving productivity improvements across the supply chain.”
According to the State Government, the lease will remove 50 of our most deadly and congested level crossings, and create thousands of jobs, with 10 per cent of lease proceeds to be invested in regional and rural infrastructure projects, totalling more than $970 million.
Fatal Huntly crash: Musical family had just arrived in New Zealand
The family in the horrific car crash in New Zealand on Monday had been on their way to visit relatives for the holidays, their neighbour has said.
Stephen Phillips, 54 and his two stepsons aged 12 and 14 were killed when the rental car they were travelling in collided with a truck on State Highway 1 at Huntly on Monday afternoon.
The boys' mother Belinda Williams, who was in the car at the time of the crash, was rushed to hospital in a critical condition along with her daughter Tessa, who survived the crash.
The family had left their home in Australia on Monday morning to spend two weeks visiting Williams' family in New Zealand for a big family reunion during the holidays and had left their home in the hands of their neighbour, Billy Azad.
"I saw the kids on Sunday, I asked them 'What you want me to do?', me and Belinda had a good chat that afternoon, she said she was leaving on Monday," he said.
The Nissan the family was in, which police believe was driven by Phillips, crossed the centre line and smashed into a truck in Huntly.
The family had just picked up the rental car after flying into New Zealand, and were understood to be heading south from Auckland Airport when they crashed.
But it wasn't until police knocked on the door of Azad's Loganlea home that he realised something was wrong.
We were just told Stephen was in a car crash and they were looking for the next of kin," he said.
"We started looking for information, I had some contacts in New Zealand ... we started looking through Facebook and found out what had happened."
Azad said the news had shocked the neighbours, who had lived in the same street as the family for the past five years.
"We have a great family (on the street), it doesn't matter what the age or race, we would hold mid-winter parties, Christmas parties, barbecues and things like that, we all know each other, look after each other," he said.
"The kids were always happy to play: skating, scooters, they played hide and seek but if they went out of line they would always improve themselves.
"We live in a cul-de-sac, the kids were always out playing.
MARK TAYLOR/FAIRFAX NZ
"They were very good neighbours, I have got a six-year-old and a two-year-old and they would look after them when we had to go into town.
"It is horrific, it is hard to swallow."
Phillips was First Violinist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra while his partner Williams was a casual guest musician for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and played the viola.
Azad said both musicians were kind and caring.
"Stephen was a good gentleman, he was good at repairing pianos, a handyman kind of guy," he said.
"Belinda was a great lady, she would drop other kids on the street to the bus stop."
Azad said he had heard that Williams was out of surgery and "going well" and her daughter had been able to see her mum.
"I am sure she [Tessa] would have been traumatised, how the bodies were found, it's just horrific," he said.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra chairman Greg Wanchap said Phillips had been a member for more than 25 years.
"The thoughts, prayers and love from everyone at the Queensland Symphony Orchestra are today with the family of our much loved First Violinist Stephen Phillips and his partner Belinda Williams, who often played Viola with the QSO," he said.
"Stephen had been a member of the QSO since 1987 and Belinda has played with the QSO since 2002."
Azad said the family were also instrumental in organising the end of year Christmas street party.
"They would always contribute and help with organising, setting up and cleaning - they were great people.
"[Williams] would always pick her son up from the bus-stop after school and we would see them walking hand-in-hand back home. He was the eldest boy. Their other son was your typical 12 year old, always playing outside.
"Those boys were the oldest kids on the street and they always looked after the younger ones. They were great kids."
Tessa is good friends with Azad's daughter.
"She is a lovely young girl. My daughter loved her, they played every second day."
Azad described Phillips as a "top bloke" who was always there to lend a hand to any neighbour in need.
"We borrowed tools from each other. He was a craftsman at repairing pianos and stuff. Just genuine neighbours. They were more than that. They were family to us all on the street.
"Very kind hearted people."
Another neighbour, Nemanja Rasula, said their close-knit street community, which often shared picnics, would never be the same.
"Unfortunately we will be missing three members next time we do a picnic and it will be a sad day for all of us - a day where there will not be smiles and laughter, just sorrow.
"The parents were like any parents hard working trying to do the best they can to raise their three beautiful children and give them the best possible future.
"Like in today's society it is a rare commodity to have to be able to spend lot of time chatting away with your neighbour as everyone is busy with their own lives, work and other commitments. But to have a community like ours is fairly special."
Waikato road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace told media on Tuesday that police are still investigating the background to the crash.
"Yesterday afternoon at approximately 2.30pm there was a fatal crash on State Highway One in Huntly.
"That fatal crash was caused by one vehicle, the southbound vehicle, crossing the centre line and hitting a truck in the northbound lane. As a result of that crash three people were deceased.
"Our enquiries continue into the causation of the crash and trying to establish the background around where the people were coming from and where they were going to," she said in a news conference at Hamilton Central Police Station.
She said a range of factors would be considered as officers piece together why the crash happened.
Police didn't think speed was a factor in the crash that occurred on a 70kmh stretch of highway near the centre of Huntly, and all of the occupants were wearing seatbelts.
"I am unable at this stage to give any further details around the occupants in the vehicles other than what has been released as we try and work our way through to find those families," Grace added.
THE CRASH SCENE
Witnesses described the crash scene as mayhem with debris strewn across the road and people walking around in shock.
One eye-witnesses heard Tessaasking a St John's staff for her mother.
"'You can hold your mum's hand soon," the ambulance officer said.
Both the daughter and mother were flown to Waikato Hospital.
A hospital spokesperson said the woman was initially critical but overnight had improved to a serious condition in the High Dependency Unit. The girl was uninjured.
Grace said it had been a difficult scene to piece together.
Officers had only been able to speak with the young girl and were waiting until her mother was well enough to be interviewed.
"It is exceptionally sad all round."
The Nissan collided with a Mark Grey Carriers truck, which had some damage to the front.
A trucking company spokesperson, who did not wish to give his name, on Tuesday said the Auckland-based driver of the courier truck had taken days off work.
The man in his 30s was uninjured in the crash but clearly upset about what had happened, he said.
"Our thoughts are with the family in the car, our driver is okay.
"He's been a professional driver for a number of years."
Both the trucking company and National Road Carriers were providing victim support for him.
Grace urged people to drive to the conditions.
"Drivers must be fit for the road, which means being well-rested and focussed.
"Too often, a moment of fatigue or distraction has tragic consequences."
JMC launches Conquer truck in Australia
Chinese truck manufacturer, Jiangling Motors (JMC), has introduced its Conquer truck to the Australian market.
Launched in Sydney this week, JMC has revealed that the Conquer will be available in GVM ratings ranging from 4,490kg to suit the passenger licence light truck market up to 7,550kg with the upper capacity models featuring air-over-hydraulic brakes incorporating “maxi” spring parking brakes.
Among the Conquer’s features include two high pressure direct injection diesel engines, available in a 2.4 litre that develops 90 kW (120HP) and a 3.0 litre version that has 110kW (147HP) with both driving through six speed Getrag manual transmissions. Both engines use SCR AdBlue injection to meet the Euro V emission standard.
In addition, short (2,750mm), medium (3,360mm) and long wheelbases (3,815mm) are available to suit a variety of applications. The trucks at the launch displayed both a factory steel body and a locally manufactured alloy tray body.
The company said that ABS brakes, factory air conditioning, electric windows and plenty of in cab storage options are standard but airbags, stability control and cruise control are yet to be put on the specification list.
JMC ranks as number five on the list of Chinese vehicle manufacturers and grew to hold more than 11 per cent of the market in 2014. The company has been supplying its Vigus dual cab utility vehicles into Australia since 2015
According to JMC, prices for the cab chassis range from $31,990 to $39,990 and dealer response at the launch was strong with a number signing intentions of interest on the spot.
Hino points to good economic times
Hino is happy with a surprisingly strong Australian economy and the sales of its trucks
It’s easy to get a sense of global economic doom and gloom if you watch, read and listen to mainstream media too much.
But here are some of the latest business facts in Australia.
Gross domestic product is growing at a healthy clip of more than three per cent a year, and we haven’t had a recession in Australia for more than a quarter of a century.
The latest company profit results are regarded as good on the whole; and interest rates and inflation are still incredibly low.
And of course the forecasts for bumper growth in the freight task just keep on coming.
The latest tip is for a 26 per cent increase over the next decade, from no less a body than the National Transport Commission.
"The economy appears to be in surprisingly good shape," Hino Australia chairman and CEO Steve Lotter says.
"As a country we seem to be transitioning well from the mining boom to the construction boom, both in infrastructure and for housing, and this has been good for the truck market as a whole."
Lotter, head of the number two brand in the Australian truck market, says Hino’s experience is especially good in NSW and Victoria at the moment.
Hino says Western Australia is down because of the mining downturn of course, as is much of Queensland, but south-east Queensland is holding up well due to construction. South Australia is stable.
Things are so good in fact that Hino hasn’t been able to keep up with demand for some models.
However that has a fair bit to do with supply problems out of Japan, with a new plant scheduled to fully operational in October.
While business prospects are good, as an importer Hino is finding the exchange rate to be "tough".
And competition amongst truck suppliers to Australia is as fierce as ever.
"If this isn’t the most competitive truck market in the world, I don’t want to be transferred to the one that is," Lotter says.
Trucking operators in Australia know what fierce competition is like, and that no doubt explains why things are tougher for many of them than the positive state of the economy suggests.
Lotter was speaking at a recent media presentation at Hino’s Australian headquarters at Taren Point in southern Sydney.
It was just before the latest Truck Industry Council sales figures were released, which show that as usual, Hino is a clear runner-up to Isuzu.
The brand has sold 2,870 trucks for the year-to-date (YTD) to the end of August in a rising market, giving it a 13.6 per cent market share.
Notwithstanding the overall positive picture, Lotter says: "As an industry we believe that the Government could do more to help grow the overall truck market.
"The average age of trucks on Aussie roads is approaching 15 years, whereas it’s fewer than 10 for most developed countries."
"New trucks are certainly safer and greener, and either a carrot or stick approach could be taken to encourage operators to update and upgrade their fleets."
Truckie invents tyre jack to improve truck safety
After a quarter of a century of intermittent work on an invention to make changing truck tyres safer and easier, a Western Australian truck driver has had his lightbulb moment.
But for someone with no experience in the inventing game, the administration involved in moving it from an idea, to a physical invention, to a saleable item, was no easy feat.
Brendon Noakes began designing the "jaq strap", a tool that can be used to jack up a truck for tyre changing, after years of noticing the dangers and exhaustion that come from changing truck tyres the traditional way.
"This will just make it so much easier.
"And the Superquad's up there are 60 metres long — to carry all that equipment 60 metres there and back is a lot of hard work."
Three weeks ago, the elements needed to finish the design "just clicked" for Mr Noakes and he began creating the jaq strap — just in time for the Newdegate Machinery Field Day invention awards, where he won the new release award.
Paperwork proves difficult
Mr Noakes said the paperwork associated with inventing a new tool was daunting, and without help he would have struggled.
"My boss, Chris Pavlovich, put my on to the business centre in Albany and they had a look and said 'we're going to patent it, we're going to protect it for you and we want to keep the industry in Albany if it takes off'."
The Albany Business Centre is a not-for-profit organisation to assist businesses in the early developmental stage.
Mr Noakes said if he could offer advice to aspiring inventors it would be that plans will eventually come together.