Q: The PBS scheme has been likened to the hugely successful Game of Thrones series, which is known for its twisted plot and complex web of stakeholders struggling for influence. What’s your take on it?
A: Many in the industry and government do not understand PBS and are sometimes engaging with others who don’t fully understand the script either. There needs to be more and better communication about PBS to remove the rumours and misinformation. Jurisdictions have been flexing their muscle regarding access to the road network and local councils restrict access due to lack of knowledge of PBS. I do not think there is really a group of people struggling for influence, just a group that does not really understand what they are dealing with trying to make decisions. There is an opportunity now for the NHVR to clarify and set the storyline.
Q: From your personal perspective, which are the top five issues you are confronted with the most when talking PBS?
A: Access, access, access, access and cost. I think vehicle assessment is working well at this point in time. Access, lack of PBS network classification, access conditions, vehicle certification and cost.
Q: With critique focusing on processes and governance, are there changes to the PBS process planned?
A: The NHVR has worked with the PBS Review Panel to improve productivity by minimising the applications that must be actively reviewed by the Panel. Looking forward, the NHVR is investigating an online application process that will automatically populate that database instead of the manual process used today.
Q: To expand on the last question, some experts argue that the PBS Review Panel is redundant since the NHVR has taken over the administration of the scheme. Are we looking at a political legacy issue here?
A: As PBS under the NHVR is evolving, so is the role of the Panel. The experience and the knowledge of the members of the Panel is still relevant to PBS and the guidance provided to the NHVR assists in the decision making process. As previously stated, all aspects of the PBS Scheme are under review and the role of the Panel is a part of that. The law requires that the Regulator ‘must’ give a copy of the application to the PBS Review Panel have regard to its advice.
The use of the word ‘must’ indicates that the Regulator cannot determine an application without notifying the PBS Panel. [However,] the NHVR is developing procedures that comply with the requirements of the HVNL, which will hopefully speed up the application process.
Q: Do you think the NHVR as an authority has reached its full potential yet, and if not, what would need to happen to get there?
A: No. The NHVR has made some great gains in establishing itself as a truly national entity, but there is still more work to do to fully realise the safety and productivity benefits available to such a large and geographically diverse industry. The industry is on a journey of continuous improvement, and so are we. The NHVR is focussed on red-tape reduction, consistency across borders and stronger partnerships with industry and government. As a national Regulator, the NHVR also has a keen interest in monitoring technological advances leading to safer and more productive vehicles and equipment. We continue to develop our capabilities alongside industry.
Q: What is the one message you would like to get across to all stakeholders at this point in time?
A: Continue to work with us so we can realise benefits together. This includes working collaboratively, understanding timeframes and supporting each other. We are on a long-term journey of continuous improvement. This will take time but the benefits are well worth it.
Q: How much growth potential do you think the PBS scheme has once all teething issues are resolved? Will it ever take up a sizable portion of the market?
A: At least 20 per cent per year, I would like to see PBS become the new norm with a clear market share supporting industry productivity and safety.