The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is working together with the National Transport Commission to review the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) as part of something called the Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness Program. This program is a first test of a new relationship between the two organisations and follows a memorandum of understanding between them. It also looks like it may lead to a major shake up in accreditation countrywide.
A review of the NHVAS has been on the agenda for sometime, since the NHVR took over responsibility for the scheme. The controversy surrounding the events of the Mona Vale tanker crash last year have served to further call into question the levels of maintenance in the truck fleet on Australia’s roads.
Although the official announcement plays the issue down as one of a regular regulatory review, the intention is clear and part of the recent friction between nationally based organisations, who have been given increased powers, and state government based bodies intent on retaining a power base in their state capitals. With federal politicians coming out and reiterating their support for the NHVR, in the light of recent issues, the tussle looks set to continue in this review.
“This really does go to the efficacy of all of the accreditation systems which are out there,” said Paul Retter, NTC CEO in Tamworth last weekend. “There are too many of them, we need one. We need to make sure they are robust, if you are going to have an accreditation system which provides a benefit, it’s got to be matched by good governance. Quite frankly, NHVAS maintenance, at the moment, is a joke. We need to fix it, and we will.
“This goes to a whole range of issues from the people who have been used to do the repair work. It goes to the equipment they have got. Whether they can pick up the things the RMS can pick up on the roads. There are a whole range of issues we need to look at as we go down this road.
“There are lots of views out there about what we should have as an accreditation system for heavy vehicles. My view is we should have one, it should have a range of modules, some core business, like maintenance and fatigue. We can add on other modules for guys dealing with livestock or other things. We need to rationalise this space, because the cost in time and money of being in five or six accreditation schemes is, to me, a nonsense.”
The trucking industry is to be consulted as the process of this review continues. However, the industry does not want to be the meat in the sandwich in the tension between federal and state authorities, as it has been during the recent permit issuing crisis. The intention needs to be clear, to set up a genuine single accreditation platform, with a national spread and with some credibility created by stringent controls.