The NHVR, tasked with getting access permits sorted out, is making progress. It has had, what can be best described as a chequered history, especially when it comes to access permits. A lot of promises in the early days were followed by a meltdown when the permit system first went online in early 2014.
Since then it has been a slow hard climb for the team, known now as Access Connect, tasked with the job of bringing the Australian permit system into a single entity able to grant access to trucking operators on particular roads at particular times, with a short turnaround time from application to permission being granted.
Needless to say the permit system is incredibly complicated, and completely different in each state involved. The NHVR have been processing the permits required by those crossing state borders, but intrastate permits had to be returned to the hands of the states themselves, after the initial debacle.
It has been a long slow grind for the department working to develop a truly national system within the NHVR. This has been helped by the process of creating a set of notices to replace many of the permits which are automatically granted on a periodic basis. This means certain routes are identified and classified allowing particular vehicles to use them within guidelines and restrictions laid out in the notice. These notices have gone a long way in reducing the permit granting process, but further work still needs to be done.
“The national notices have been making progress,” says David Carlisle, NHVR Program Director for Access Connect. “We’ve got about 180 notices around the country and it’s been a challenge for us to try and harmonise. Trying to get jurisdictions to work with us on a common model has been a journey, but we are excited to see three keys ones pop out the other end.
“Industry needs that level of certainty about trying to get their vehicles on the road. These national notices are critical to that and it eliminates the need for permits. Our organisation is very keen to see where we can reduce permits requirements by using notices. It can only be done in partnership with jurisdictions, and that’s the partnership challenge we have had.”
So far we have a truck and dog, a crane notice and, now, the over size over mass notice. Each one of these took 15 months in a series of negotiations between the NHVR and the states, getting gradually closer to an agreement to harmonise across state boundaries.
“It’s been a challenge to work out what those issues were on day one in 2014,” says Carlisle. “It wasn’t just a systems issue, policies which should have been there, weren’t there. Processes needed to be optimised and at the time our job was to stabilise our business.
“It’s been a partnership between us and state jurisdictions to make the permit system operate well. We are trying to position ourselves in the next six months to get delegations brought back to us. The functions which are delegated out to our jurisdictional partners will start to return to us. It’s scheduled to be back on a case by case basis over the coming months. We have a stable access permitting business now.
“It’s all about us getting the permits out of the door.”