Paul Retter, who has been in charge at the National Transport Commission for the last five years has announced he will be stepping down as NTC CEO on September 28. He has steered the NTC through a period of transition, where its role has been modified as the regulatory and policy landscape around trucking has changed.
Before 2013, the NTC was the only national body in the government arena with which the trucking industry was able to deal on a regular basis about policies and regulations, both for now and in the future.
The arrival of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator introduced another factor into that equation and saw the two organisations develop a relationship under the leadership of Paul Retter and Sal Petroccitto in which clear demarcation lines could be drawn between the pair’s responsibilities. The trucking industry was able to engage with the new regime in a lot more effective way as a result.
A number of the major projects developed by the NTC over the years have come into their maturity during Paul’s time at the helm. The Performance Based Standards scheme administration was handed over to the NHVR, enabling the NTC to come up with wide ranging recommendations for its improvement.
The NTC has come up the framework needed for the the road regulations to be able to deal with increasing automation and finally autonomous driving of vehicles on Australian roads. The new Load Restraint Guide has arrived and is much easier to understand than its predecessor.
The development of the current fatigue regime has been on the agenda, as well as heavy vehicle accreditation schemes. One of the ongoing issues has been the assessment of the heavy vehicle charging annual adjustment, where governments have ignored advice and have frozen the current inequitable charging formulas.
One of the memorable and enduring legacies from the Retter era will be the calm and inclusive way he has gone about doing what can be a tough job, squeezed between the government and the trucking industry. In that area he has brought the level of tension down and laid the ground for a more collaborative approach when developing policy at many levels.
Before becoming a familiar face at trucking industry events Paul had served as a senior member of the Australian Defence Force. He had been the Deputy Force Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Force in East Timor and the Army’s Director General of Preparedness and Plans.
He later worked as the Executive Director of the Office of Transport Security (OTS) at the Department of Transport and Regional Services on the National Counter-Terrorism Plan to provide strategic leadership and national consistency in transport security.
Where we go from here is going to be back on the agenda. Paul stepping down may just be a simple changing of the guard, or it may be the precursor for a reform and rationalisation of the way the rules and regulations around transportation generally are developed and controlled.