Several big topics informed our discussions in Canberra over August and September. Leading our conversations has been Jobs and Skill, future fuels/EV transition, manufacturing modernisation funding and innovation push, and the Road Vehicles Standards Act (RVSA).
Informing the workforce shortages in the industry we took part in two events, the Tourism Workforce Roundtable and the Tourism Jobs Summit. The roundtable and the summit acted as mechanisms to inform the broader Jobs and Skills Summit held in early September.
Both opportunities gave Caravan Industry Association of Australia the chance to discuss some of the workforce challenges facing the industry as well as solutions to assist in the shortfall.
Of these, we advocated strongly for working holiday maker visas to be increased along with greater incentives to remove barriers to travel, pensioners to have the ability to work increased hours without impact to their pension and the need to supercharge a domestic tourism campaign focused on regional and rural areas/drive holidays.
Another significant issue from the last few weeks has been fuel efficiency standards and the shift to electric vehicles (EV). The passing of Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, Climate Change Bill on 8 September 2022, has signalled the future direction of government towards a low carbon emission environment. A large part of the discussion is that of fuel standards and car emissions.
As we await the consultation paper on Fuel Efficiency Standards to be released (mid-late September), a consultation paper on what the low-carbon emission environment could and should look like as well as the key requirements to make it a reality, we have actively taken part in important industry conversations. As an industry we have attended vehicle emissions forums, met with automotive industry representatives and manufacturers as well as EV charging infrastructure representatives. Much of this has been to gain a greater understanding of future energy/fuel uses, vehicle availability and required infrastructure.
We understand the potential for opportunity with a move to a low-emissions environment. However, over the transition period (between 2030 – 2040) we want to ensure transitions are made with minimal impact to the industry in both tourism and manufacturing.
As we look towards the horizon and the future of fuel sources in Australia, our focus as an industry must all begin to narrow on maintaining our position as one of the worlds leaders in RV and Caravan production.
Maintaining and driving a strong narrative with the new government on manufacturing modernisation funding and innovation centre of excellence has been front and centre over the last month. Being positioned as an industry to meet the challenges presented by a low emissions environment, albeit exciting, remains a transition fraught with peril. As we write, Australia is in the middle of a labour and skills shortage that is taking a major toll on industries across the country. Our supply changes mean we are not only struggling to access the required components for our products, but it also means we bring them to market at a slower rate. These are the current challenges being faced, this is without glancing down the road to see what is required of industry.
We continue to work with government on solutions focussed on ensuring our industry is assisted in additional needs to innovate, to meet the potential demand on lower weight vehicles, larger and more capable batteries for bi-directional charging, Electric RVs and required infrastructure. These conversations aren’t quick, nor are they easy, but they have started and will continue until we have certainty about our safe transition.
A well-discussed topic with Government continues to be the Road Vehicle Safety Act (RVSA), due to come into action as of 1 July 2023. For an update on what the RVSA is, you can visit our readiness website here: https://rvsaready.com.au/.
Under the previous government, the RVSA was due to come into effect as of 1 July 2021, before departing the transition was delayed two years. Significantly exposing our market to non-compliant imported vehicles, a fact we continue to raise in Canberra.
This month we have had the opportunity to meet with both Minister King and her senior advisors to discuss the pathway of the act and its impending inception. As we understand it, the commencement date remains at 1 July 2023. We also understand there remains to be opposition to the transition taking place due to the scope of the legislation, this means there are certain sectors that are currently the focus of the legislation that believe they should be exempt. We remain hopeful the government remains steadfast in there dedication to the legislation roll out or at the very least allow for an apportion legislation to be active for the benefit of our domestic manufacturers.