A report into the access management failure as part of the launch of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which happened in early 2014, has been published. The Queensland Auditor-General has published a report on ‘Heavy Vehicle Road Access Reforms’ in has investigated how the NHVR has looked into the causes of the access management system failure, as well as how well it is coping now in taking over the access management responsibilities.
“Industry operators across participating states and territories continue to face inconsistent processes and decisions for getting a heavy vehicle permit, and the industry has yet to obtain any substantial benefit from the new law with regard to access permit management. More than two years after ‘go live’ the NHVR has not implemented a fully effective one-stop-shop for access management.
“From early 2013 until February 2014, the NHVR had invested $9.3 million in its access management system, but during 2014–15, it processed only about 12 per cent of the heavy vehicle permit volumes across participating states and territories.
“Even when the NHVR addresses the current access management process and system issues, this will only deliver the benefits expected of the reforms if the NHVR, state, territory and local government road managers work effectively together to implement the HVNL. This area requires more attention.
“However, the NHVR Board and management have learnt from their mistakes, they now engage better with their stakeholders and have changed their project management approach, releasing system changes in stages after much planning and testing.
This demonstrates the NHVR’s commitment not to repeat the same problems. But some stakeholders remain concerned about the NHVR’s ability to deliver access management efficiently and effectively. They perceive that the pace of change and system rectification is too slow, and that there has been insufficient communication with them.”
In a commentary on the report, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association reckons the results are no surprise.
“However, there is no point in attributing blame for the initial failure, we need to focus on what is being done to fix the problem,” said a statement from the ALRTA. “Yes, progress has been slow, but NHVR are consulting with us and we can ill-afford a repeat of the previous disaster. Better to get it right than get it quickly.
“The audit also makes several recommendations relating to improved budgeting; monitoring of reasons for access refusal; targeted assistance for local governments and, most importantly, making sure that Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads is supporting the NHVR to meet the objectives of the HVNL.
“These are reasonable recommendations but some elements could go further. For example, the ALRTA would like to see the NHVR publish an annual report on the reasons for refusal, along with an assessment of whether or not the reasons given are in line with the relevant Ministerial Guidelines. Also, it is worth noting that the audit report recognises that the 28 day statutory time frame for permit approvals is a significant problem.”