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Prime Mover Magazine

National truck law must be independent: ATA

The planned review of the national truck laws must be independent and must not be run by the National Transport Commission (NTC), the members of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) said this week at a general council in Canberra.

ATA Chair, Geoff Crouch (pictured), said the members who participated included representatives of ATA associations – representing thousands of trucking businesses in total – major companies and owner drivers.

“Our members have a diverse range of interests, but their commitment to safety and building a more productive and viable industry is absolute,” said Crouch.

ATA members said the planned review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) must be independent and must not be run by the NTC.

Australia’s transport ministers will consider terms of reference for the review in November.

Crouch said the NTC had developed the current law.

“The review needs to start from scratch, so it would make sense to bring in a team who were not involved in the development of the law we have now,” he said.

“We need new ideas from people who are experienced in other areas of regulation, not the same ideas again.”

“The ATA and our members will talk in detail to the Australian and all state transport ministers about who, in our view, should head up the review.”

ATA members also discussed the Australian Government’s heavy vehicle charges roadmap and its consultation regulatory impact statement on setting up an independent price regulator for truck registration and road user charges.

Members endorsed the creation of an independent price regulator with the power to scrutinise state government expenditure (option B in the consultation RIS), provided it was also responsible for regulating toll road and landside port charges. Independent price regulation should also prevent local councils for charging for access to their roads, members concluded.

Members rejected the Government’s plan to change the way charges are calculated from the current PAYGO model to a forward-looking cost base.

“Switching to a complex new charging model would not help create a genuine high productivity truck network,” said Crouch.

“It would not improve government road spending decisions or create a single new truck rest area. Governments need to get real and focus on what’s important, not on developing ever more elaborate mathematical models,” he said.

ATA members discussed the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) draft National Compliance and Enforcement Policy. This high-level statement would set out the principles for a risk-based approach to compliance, investigation and enforcement.

ATA members welcomed the policy’s focus on safety risks, but raised significant concerns about its applicability. It would apply to NHVR and road agency officers, but not police. Members called for the police to adopt a similar, risk-based approach to enforcement, while recognising that this could require an amendment to the law.

Members also raised concerns about the NHVR’s approach to consulting on the policy.

“The NHVR’s consultation plans must routinely include arrangements to consult with the ATA and its members, as well as genuine consultations with its own Industry Reference Group,” said Crouch.

“In our view, all NHVR policies should be routinely released for 21 days of public consultation before being finalised,” he said.

The CEO of the Victorian Transport Association, Peter Anderson, briefed members on the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2018, currently before the Victorian Parliament.

The ATA has also agreed to set up two new internal committees.

The Industry Communications Committee. To be chaired by the Marketing Vice-President of Volvo Group Australia, Teresia Fors, the committee will promote the importance of the industry and the value of joining an ATA member association.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee. Members agreed that the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in the industry – from drivers to business owners to workshop staff ‒ was of paramount importance and warranted the focus of a dedicated policy committee.

The ATA also presented TruckSafe long service awards.

ATA Chair, Geoff Crouch, and TruckSafe Executive Officer, Kevin Walsh, welcomed Noel Kelly of AEI Transport Insurance to present 15 and 20 year TruckSafe membership awards.

Mike Almond AM, formerly of Mountain Industries, received a 15 year award. The 20 year awards went to:

  • Simon Skazlic of K&S Freighters
  • David Smith of D & S Smith Haulage
  • Sharon Middleton of Whiteline Transport
  • Tim Knowles of Speedie Contractors
  • David Simon of Simon National Carriers

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