SHORT HAULS

Herald Sun - Motoring - - WORKING WHEELS -

The Trans­port Work­ers Union has at­tacked fed­eral gov­ern­ment plans to al­low for se­lect 457 visa hold­ers to be paid 10 per cent less than what Aus­tralians work for in re­gional ar­eas. Na­tional sec­re­tary Tony Shel­don says for­eign work­ers could be ex­ploited un­der the plan or may not be com­pe­tent be­hind the wheel. “Road trans­port is an ex­am­ple of an in­dus­try where high English lan­guage com­pe­tency is vi­tal to not just work­place safety, but the safety of all road users,” he says. The Bio­fu­els As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia is hold­ing its an­nual con­fer­ence on Oc­to­ber 31 in Syd­ney. This body rep­re­sents bio­fuel pro­duc­ers, mar­keters and re­tail­ers and other par­ties in­ter­ested in re­new­able fu­els. Re­cent pol­icy changes that are likely to hurt the bio­fu­els in­dus­try in Aus­tralia will be up for dis­cus­sion. “The aim of the con­fer­ence is to en­cour­age a higher level of de­bate about some of the neg­a­tive ex­ter­nal is­sues not cur­rently be­ing costed by our econ­omy and to lay a foun­da­tion for new in­vest­ment in the re­new­able fu­els sec­tor,” says BAA chief Gavin Hughes. View www.bio­fu­el­sas­so­ci­a­tion. com.au Volvo truck group has opened its own deal­er­ship in Black­town, NSW. It cost $16 mil­lion, took 12 months to build and fully fit out and will sell Volvo, Mack and UD trucks. The build­ings on the site cover 4000 square me­tres and there is also a car park that can cater for 200 ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing B-dou­bles. There are 24 work­shop bays and a rest lounge for driv­ers. The deal­er­ship will op­er­ate around the clock and em­ploy 75 peo­ple. Work has started on a new TNT freight su­per hub in Mel­bourne. Ex­pected open in 12 months, it is large enough to house five full-size soc­cer pitches. TNT says its new Tul­la­ma­rine fa­cil­ity will use the lat­est au­to­mated sort­ing tech­nol­ogy, han­dling up to 18,500 parcels an hour, or a 60 per cent in­crease on the cur­rent vol­ume at its Mel­bourne fa­cil­ity. The new plant will also host a call cen­tre that will hire an ad­di­tional 50 peo­ple. The company that makes Bud­weiser beer has switched its fleet in Hous­ton, Texas, from diesel to com­pressed nat­u­ral gas. An­heuser-Busch bought 66 Freight­liner CNG rigs as part of a company-wide pitch to slash its car­bon diox­ide foot­print. It cer­tainly is big enough to make a dif­fer­ence given it ex­pects to de­liver 17 mil­lion slabs of beer in the next three months. An­heuser-Busch pre­dicts the Hous­ton fleet switch alone will re­duce its an­nual car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by 2000 tonnes. BUSINESS class has ar­rived in van land. Ger­man tun­ing house Brabus has turned its at­ten­tion to the func­tional MercedesBenz Sprinter, con­vert­ing it to an op­u­lent of­fice.

Brabus has made a name for mas­sive per­for­mance up­grades on Mercedes mod­els – it once shoved a V8 in a Vito van — but it is also known for its cus­tom lux­ury en­hance­ments.

While the lux­u­ri­ous mo­bile of­fice might seem like an odd choice, Brabus is look­ing to tap an emerg­ing mar­ket of Euro­pean ex­ec­u­tives who would rather travel from city to city in a com­fort­able ve­hi­cle rather than catch a plane.

In­stead of go­ing through all the has­sles that fly­ing en­tails, the business pas­sen­ger is able to ei­ther sit back and re­lax in pri­vacy or get a whole load of work done on the ground (even tak­ing phone calls, which is not prac­ti­cal in the air).

While Brabus ve­hi­cles nor­mally back some se­ri­ous punch, the en­gine in this spe­cial Sprinter has been left alone.

It has been fit­ted with a body kit, in­clud­ing a deep front bumper, and 18-inch al­loys.

Apart from those changes, a Brabus badge and very black win­dows, the van looks like any other Sprinter. On the inside though, it is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

The in­te­rior has been trans­formed into a lux­u­ri­ous space more akin to a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar lux­ury yacht cabin. There are four huge in­di­vid­ual seats cov­ered in sump­tu­ous leather that face each other, with an op­tion for two ex­tra reg­u­lar seats at the back (for un­der­lings, I pre­sume).

They are heated, ven­ti­lated, have a mas­sage func­tion, and can re­cline to a sleep­ing po­si­tion.

The floor of the van is decked out with a float­ing wood floor, while the walls are lined with Al­can­tara. A mas­sive 1800mm x 900mm screen can be linked to any An­droid or Ap­ple de­vice.

The in­te­rior mood light­ing is made up of 2700 LEDs.

KEEN ON A KENNY

ROD­NEY’S Trans­port Ser­vices (RTS) has spent tens of mil­lions of dol­lars on Ken­worth trucks.

Just last month, the company’s 200th Ken­worth was de­liv­ered to its head­quar­ters in Wagga Wagga.

The prices paid for the trucks is hard to es­ti­mate, given the range of trucks and spread of time in which they were bought but Ken­worth trucks are never cheap and RTS could well have spent more that $30 mil­lion on Ken­worths since 1992. It’s fair to say man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Peter Rod­ney is a Ken­worth fan.

“We will con­tinue to buy them ev­ery year be­cause it’s good for business. They are de­signed and man­u­fac­tured in Aus­tralia to suit Aus­tralia’s harsh en­vi­ron­ments and ap­pli­ca­tions,” Rod­ney says.

He says the abil­ity to have a truck tai­lor-made at Ken­worth’s Aus­tralian fac­tory in Bayswa­ter, Vic, is a big plus.

“Ken­worth builds trucks to our ex­act spec­i­fi­ca­tions,” he says. “No other man­u­fac­turer can do that. The trucks are more re­li­able, durable and cost ef­fec­tive to run. They can han­dle the hard­est work, the long­est hours and many years of ser­vice.”

The 200th RTS Ken­worth is a K200 cabover with a 410kW (550hp) Cum­mins 15-litre ISXe5 en­gine and the clas­sic 18-speed Ea­ton Road­Ranger man­ual. It is one of 104 Ken­worths in the RTS fleet, which in­cludes bon­neted jobs such as the T909, T609, T409SAR and T359.

RTS runs up and down the east­ern coast and into South Aus­tralia cart­ing live­stock, fer­tiliser, gen­eral freight, waste and grain.

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