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ATA in determined defence to PC of NHVR costs burden

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Suggestions that industry escapes cost of supporting regulation rejected out of hand

ATA in determined defence to PC of NHVR costs burden
The ATA’s take on NHVR cost recovery


The trucking industry and other heavy vehicle users pay 93 per cent of the cost of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) underlines.

Giving evidence before a Productivity Commission (PC) hearing into national transport regulatory reform ATA reports chief of staff Bill McKinley defending the industry vigorously against suggestions that it paid a very limited part of the NHVR’s costs.

"In fact, the industry pays 93 per cent of NHVR’s costs, through the regulatory component of truck and bus registration charges – $144 million in 2017-18 – and fees, fines and charges – $5 million in 2017-18," Mr McKinley said.

"The regulatory component is calculated by the NTC [National Transport Commission] to cover the NHVR’s budget and then added to registration charges.

"It is not a trivial amount. For example, the regulatory component for a prime mover rated to tow B-doubles is $912 per year.

"The Productivity Commission should revise its draft finding and recommendation related to cost recovery.

"We pay the right amount for the NHVR: we certainly shouldn’t have to pay more."

The intervention relates to draft finding 10.2 and draft recommendation 10.2 that state respectively:

  • There are different approaches to cost recovery in each of the three modes, from near full cost recovery in rail, to very limited cost recovery in heavy vehicles and maritime. The amount of government funding received by each national regulator reflects these arrangements
  • The national regulators (particularly the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority) should move towards cost recovery arrangements in line with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines. Consistent arrangements across the three transport regulators will eliminate the risk of distorting intermodal choices.

McKinley goes on to spotlight other issues the ATA continues to lobby for.

He emphasises the importance of independent, no-blame safety investigation and accreditation reform.

"The ATA supports the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to extend the role of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau [ATSB] so it can investigate crashes involving heavy vehicles and autonomous vehicles. It’s something we have been arguing for since 2013," McKinley says.

"Extending the role of the ATSB would improve industry safety by looking beyond the immediate causes of crashes to systemic factors, including the operation of regulators."

In its submission, the ATA recommends the PC’s support of ATSB involvement be adopted.

He defends the ATA’s TruckSafe accreditation program, stating that, while TruckSafe has been identified as a stronger and more robust system than the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation System (NHVAS), the current alternative compliance arrangements do not reflect this.

"The NHVAS modules do not reflect the current provisions of the law, such as fatigue management under standard hours, load restraint and speed limiter tampering," McKinley says.

"The role of the NHVR should be changed so it regulates accreditation scheme providers, such as TruckSafe, and auditors but does not run one itself.

"TruckSafe-accredited operators should be able to access the same alternative compliance arrangements as operators in any other scheme

"The ATA’s approach would expand the safety benefits of accreditation and reduce the compliance burden on accredited businesses."  

Amongst its 15 recommendations, the ATA’s submission tackles the issue of state government derogations, where they seek primacy of state laws over the national law, calling for a broad effort against them.

While rejecting any need for a third Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review, it does recommend that New South Wales, "as the jurisdiction with 25 of the 70 HVNL derogations", take responsibility for reducing them.

It adds that, consistent with best-practice regulation, recommend that the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) require a regulation impact assessment of all derogations from the new HVNL.

On productivity, the ATA want the Transport and Infrastructure Council to:

  • transition the National Land Transport Network (NLTN) to a High Productivity Freight Vehicle network with a minimum as-of-right access for A-doubles
  • develop corridor and investment strategies to guide infrastructure upgrades for major freight routes. A strategy should be in place for each NLTN and major freight route by 2024
  • strategically plan and deliver urban access for high productivity freight vehicles, including links to logistics zones and freight routes.

The full PC submission can be found here.

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