Transporters seek new rules during review

HVNL review a chance for new rules, flexibility: rural transporters

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DRIVING AHEAD: LRTASA president David Smith and ALRTA president Stephen Marley say flexibility is key to meet the changing needs of the industry.

DRIVING AHEAD: LRTASA president David Smith and ALRTA president Stephen Marley say flexibility is key to meet the changing needs of the industry.

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THIS is a key time to set the agenda for the transport industry for the next few decades...

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THIS is a key time to set the agenda for the transport industry for the next few decades, Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of SA president David Smith and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association president Stephen Marley say.

Speaking at the combined annual conference, held in Adelaide at the weekend, Mr Smith and Mr Marley said the entire industry needed to get involved in shaping the sector's legislative framework.

Late last year a review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law was announced, to be carried out by the National Transport Commission.

Mr Smith said this review meant almost every facet of the industry could potentially be reformed.

"If we don't get the outcomes of the HVNL review right, we're going to miss one of the biggest opportunities of this lifetime," he said.

"The results will be in place for years."

Mr Marley said the biggest requirement for legislation was flexibility.

"The way freight moves is constantly changing and we're always playing catch-up," he said. "When the laws were written, they thought change would be slow.

"We've hit a point in history that technology and innovation have left the regulator and legislation behind."

Mr Marley said one example was the growing efficiency of road transport, with increasing numbers of Performance-Based Standards vehicles on the road.

He said this meant less tax was being paid.

"No one has worked out how to build roads for the next 50 years," he said.

"We've got to have ways to handle change better and handle change faster."

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Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure heavy vehicle access policy and reform unit senior policy adviser Angela Slagter said in the past four to five years, the uptake of PBS vehicles, such as multi-combination set-ups, had increased astronomically in SA and across the country. She said the number of applications in March had increased 1400 per cent from 2014.

NTC chief planning officer Paul Davies, who is overseeing the HVNL review, said the goal was a "safe driver, safe vehicle and suitable route".

"We want legislation to focus on what is harmful and not on 'administrivia'," he said.

"We need a responsive and reflexive law that keeps up."

Mr Davies said the review was aiming to create a "harmonised but not uniform" law.

So far the review had released papers looking at road access, fatigue management and risk-based regulations for industry comment, with plans to release papers on safety this month.

We've hit a point in history that technology and innovation have left the regulator and legislation behind. - STEPHEN MARLEY

SA Road Transport Association president and HVNL review panel member Sharon Middleton said one potential idea could be to have two zones - a heavy density area, such as the eastern seaboard, where rules need to be more stringent, and a rural or remote zone.

"There is a difference, the needs are different, the tasks are different and one size does not fit all," she said.

Ms Middleton said the most important step was for all people involved in the transportation industry to contribute to the review.

"It's taken time to get the review so we need to relay the problems we're having so we can get real change," she said.

She estimated the review should take two to three years to complete.

"Where there is an appetite for changing how things are done under the existing HVNL, we need to explore that further," she said.

Australian Trucking Association chief of staff Bill McKinley said the existing HVNL was too top heavy and had resulted in a decline in productivity since 2014.

"It highlights the absolute need to include productivity in review," he said.

He said there needed to be corporate governance reforms that would give regulators appropriate power and accountability.

It's taken time to get the review so we need to relay the problems we're having so we can get real change. - SHARON MIDDLETON

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator chief executive officer Sal Petrochitto said there were opportunities to view this review as creating "HVNL 2.0".

"It has to be a fundamental change to what exists," he said.

He said the review had the potential to set a policy framework, that would allow suitable regulations to be put in place.

"Technology is a key driver - the law shouldn't be specifying types of systems," he said.

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