Urgent attention required for new Chain of Responsibility laws

The following is an excerpt from an article was published on 8th May 2017 by Travis Brooks-Garrett, partner at Freight & Trade Alliance.

“LAST year the Queensland Government passed the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, to be incorporated into the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

This Act of Parliament from our northern state has a profound effect on the Chain of Responsibility requirements nationally with all states and territories, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, covered under the changes.  The amendments recast the duties and liabilities of consignor/consignees, schedulers and operators, loading managers, loaders and packers, unloaders, who are all considered to have a primary duty of care under the new legislations, with executive officers facing ‘due diligence’ obligations in ensuring compliance.  Safety is no longer the exclusive domain of those responsible for the transport task. While industry was given an 18-month implementation period, it is a monumental shift and industry needs to be aware, and service providers need to start educating their clients and suppliers, before the new legislation takes full effect.

What does this mean in practical terms?  As an importer, do my delivery requirements encourage my transport operator to speed or drive while fatigued?  Have I ensured my loads are properly restrained?  As a forwarder, have I provided reliable weight information to the transport operator?  In the words of one wise Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) member, “there should be a focus on safety before any commercial considerations such as product damage or ease of unloading”.

With the change in requirements comes the changes to the penalty and compliance regimes, which are to be re-aligned to better reflect the existing OH&S legislation.  Breaches may receive a maximum fine of $3m for a corporation, or a personal fine of $300,000 or a five-year imprisonment, or both.  Commendably, the new laws will also introduce “enforceable undertakings” as a compliance option, meaning a party who breaches the law may enter into an agreement with the regulator committing to address the areas of non-compliance.  In the event of a serious breach the regulator will have increased powers to obtain documents and information during an investigation.

This new legislation is all about eliminating risk through business controls, a common theme that has featured in many recent Government reforms. Risk detection has been replaced by “positive duty”, an approach that is more proactive and can be customised to the risk profile of your business and your role in the freight task.  Strong employee training and robust business systems and processes are the bedrock of this approach.”

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Russian bans on agricultural imports

The Department of Agriculture today released advice on the situation for Australian exports to Russia of agricultural products as a result of the bans introduced by Russian president, Vladimir Putin on 6th August, 2014:

“On 6 August 2014, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed a Presidential Decree on the ‘Application of Certain Special Economic Measures in order to protect the National Security of the Russian Federation’.

This Decree imposes immediate bans, for one year, on imports of specified agricultural products originating from countries including Australia, US, EU, Norway and Canada.

Current status
The Australian Government is currently working to assess the impact of the Russian Federation ban on imports of certain agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from Australia.

The immediate focus is to manage those exports that are currently at sea or in transit to Russian markets and assist exporters in redirecting them, wherever possible, to alternative destinations.”

The media release goes on to set out details of the HS (Harmonised System, an international numbering convention that provides consistent identification of goods) codes for the products affected, and provides further information for Australian exporters about what to do for goods currently in transit. The situation is unclear for goods which have already left Australia and the Department is urgently seeking clarification via their overseas resources. The Department will release further information as soon as possible.

The full text of the advice and further information can be found here.

© Lighthouse Agencies Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.


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Customs Brokers Recognised As A Valuable Profession

In a previous article, Increased Security Arrangements For Ports And Airports, I pointed to the new Conditions being added to the Licences of individual Customs Brokers.

One of these requirements is that Customs Brokers must undertake a program of Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) in between their licence renewal dates (licences are renewed every 3 years). The requirement is that a Customs Broker must attain 30 CPD points each year during the triennium that their licence is valid for. Training courses must be submitted to Customs for assessment and approval before the course will be accredited for the purposes of counting towards a Customs Brokers’ CPD points. Once accredited the course is given a “Course Number” and points allocation. However, because of the short lead time given by Customs for the introduction of this new requirement, Customs allowed a grace period to enable various training organisations to set up their training courses and have them accredited by Customs. So, the accumulation of CPD points commenced on 1 April, 2013, and in the period to 31 March, 2014, Customs Brokers only need to acquire 15 CPD points. However, from 1 April, 2014, to 31 March, 2015, they will need to accumulate the full 30 CPD points for that year. Customs recognise that one hour of accredited training will equate to 3 CPD points meaning a Customs Broker must attend a minimum of 10 hours of approved training during each 12 month period. Further, the points are required to be accumulated in 3 specified “streams” of study covering Customs Broker obligations, risks and ethics, professional brokerage skills, and Customs brokerage management. Customs require that Customs Brokers retain a written record of the courses attended and the points achieved for successful completion of each course, and Customs Brokers might be asked at any time by Customs to produce the record(s) of CPD points achievements.

In the lead up to the commencement date of the new CPD requirements for Customs Brokers, Customs publicly acknowledged (in Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Notice 2012/37) that Customs Brokers are considered as practitioners in “a distinct and valuable profession.” Customs Brokers are now viewed by Government in a similar light as other professions such as the accounting and legal professions. It has taken many years to reach this point, and it is gratifying that the efforts of the industry as a whole have contributed to this recognition of how professional the industry has become. Just as importantly, the efforts of those in the industry that have tirelessly worked towards this recognition must be applauded. No longer are Customs Brokers considered a collective of blue-collar types simply processing bits of paper and organising cargo deliveries. It is to be hoped that this new recognition of the status of a Customs Broker becomes more widely known throughout the community so we can attract more high calibre young people prepared to undertake the training to become Customs Brokers. It is also hoped that this recognition will lead to importers and exporters placing more value on their Customs Brokers services and reward them accordingly.

The outcome of this new scheme is that the Government and private sectors with whom Customs Brokers deal can be confident the Customs Broker is suitably qualified and experienced to undertake the work required of them.

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