After the severe storm surrounding the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator since the New Year, the fledgling government agency has managed to take a breath and reassess the situation in the wake of the permit issuing debacle and the subsequent resignation of CEO, Richard Hancock.
The organisation now seems to be setting out to reaffirm its place in the regulatory set-up by demonstrating just what functions it currently handles and which ones it will take over in the future. The latest information bulletin from Acting CEO, Melinda Bailey, definitely carries a ‘back to business’ message, moving the debate away from the hysterical hype of earlier in the year.
“Despite the difficulties, I would like to stress that commitment to the NHVR remains strong,” said Bailey in the Industry Update. “Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP, has reaffirmed his support and stressed the government is not going to walk away. Many industry associations have also expressed their ongoing support.”
Bailey goes on to list the areas where the NHVR is functioning effectively and working behind the scenes to achieve some rationality in the national regulatory situation for the trucking industry.
Access pre-approvals are being registered, whereby road managers agree to approve a route for a particular type of vehicle, removing the need to seek approval for every truck of similar type. 205 pre-approvals have been registered, so far. This work will need to continue for some time but will have the effect of speeding up both permit and PBS approvals in the future.
The work of harmonising the permits and notices already existing from around the country was slowed by protracted negotiations between the NHVR and the States but is another vital cog in the wheel to get faster approvals and rationality in the system.
NHVR have been in full control of the Performance Based Standards system for over a year and the process appears to be bedding down well, with 57 designs for 140 trucks approved so far this year.
The real test for the success of the NHVR venture is how it filters down to the roadside interface between the trucking industry and the enforcement arm of the regulator. Changes are already happening with the dropping of the requirement to carry paperwork proving accreditation in mass or maintenance schemes. As the process filters through more change should become evident.
Many of these new arrangements should have been in place well before the NHVR took over full control of the system but it is, instead, playing catch-up now. Whether the tight timetable for establishment, state intransigence or both were to blame, the road transport industry is just looking for some clear air to move forward and some clarity on when the system will be fully up and running.