As we approach the end of the year, a year that was unlike anything we could have anticipated, I’ve been reflecting on the priorities that lie at the heart of what we do at the NHVR.
The guiding mission of the NHVR has always been twofold — safety and productivity.
Everything we do is focused on making our roads safer for everyone who uses them and making the heavy vehicle industry more productive for the benefit of all Australians.
In that time, we’ve seen significant reforms and improvement in these areas and our industry is moving towards a cohesive, national system all the time.
This was underlined in the recent release of the final report from the Australian Productivity Commission into National Transport Regulatory Reform, which included a review of reforms in the heavy vehicle industry.
The report highlighted the significant reform of safety and productivity across the heavy vehicle industry since the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in 2013.
In particular, the Commission identified the ongoing trend towards improved road safety, including a continued reduction in heavy vehicle crashes, and the progress of national harmonisation of regulation.
Take, for example, the conclusion of the delegations project this year, with the NHVR now processing all heavy vehicle road access applications and issues permits for participating states and territories.
It has produced significant benefits, aligning application processes across the country, reducing red tape and ensuring certainty for operators.
This is a significant achievement and something that was a driving factor behind the establishment of the NHVR.
We are also approaching the one-year anniversary of the transition of Victorian on-road services to the NHVR, with advanced planning underway to transition the remaining NHVR jurisdictions.
This means there’s now borderless operations across much of Southern Australia. These milestones go to the heart of a truly national system, which drive efficiency across our industry.
While there is much to celebrate, the Productivity Commission also highlighted a number of areas where the law can be improved.
Key recommendations include things like reviewing derogations, reducing the prescriptive nature of fatigue legislation and expanding the number of freight routes covered by notices, which largely align with the contributions the NHVR put forward as part of the review.
If enacted, these recommendations will reduce the burden on operators and support the NHVR in carrying out its role.
At the heart of the Productivity Commission report is the view that regulation should be outcomes-focused and less prescriptive to allow the industry to embrace a positive safety culture.
This is a view that I share.
It is crucial then, that these recommendations are aligned with the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) ongoing review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
Reviews of this magnitude are rare, and in order to ensure that the country does not miss this opportunity for real change, we must consider and capture key reforms outlined in the Productivity Commission’s wide-ranging report.
The HVNL needs reform and this is our chance to get it done. I know that if these desperately needed changes are made to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), we can deliver real safety, productivity and sustainability benefits for decades to come.
While this final report is being considered, the NHVR will continue to work with industry and every level of government to continue to improve our industry.
We know that through working together we can ensure the best safety outcomes for all road users, while supporting productivity for the benefit of our whole economy.