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Buchholz in placatory approach to HVNL drama

Bemused NatRoad welcomes NTC backdown on driver working hours


After one of the more bruising periods of its existence, the National Transport Commission (NTC) gained some comfort from one of the ministers in charge of it.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz had kind words to say on the NTC’s decision to not pursue a reduction of weekly working hours for truck drivers.

“I welcome the decision by the NTC today to maintain working hours for truck drivers,” Buchholz said.

“This is a common-sense outcome, a win for our industry and for truck drivers across Australia.”

Read the ATA’s hard line on the handling of the HVNL reform process, here

Despite broad industry calls for the whole Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reform process to be binned and a new approach formulated, Buchholz also thanked all parties for the constructive way in which they worked to resolve the issue.

“I would like to thank those who raised this issue with me and my office and the NTC, including state and national associations as well as other transport and logistics industry stakeholders,” he said.

“We understand there are existing workforce shortages issues across the supply chain and such a change to working hours would have impacted drivers’ incomes, the movement of freight and operations of transport businesses right around the country.”

“There are arrangements in place to manage fatigue, ensuring safe-driving practices are in place and the industry continues to work hard to improve safety.

“I also thank the NTC for listening and taking on board the feedback from the industry and working to resolve the issue with their statement earlier today, clarifying this matter for our industry, which is working to hard professionalise.”

His message was sent on Friday after federal transport minister Barnaby Joyce’s office said it would address industry grievances over the NTC and the process, insisting trucking must be consulted effectively of the reform.

Meanwhile, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) expresses relief at the NTC’s backdown on cutting driver operating hours, describing it as “a victory for common sense”.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark questioned why the proposal advanced as far as it did.

“This idea had industry-wrecking potential and should never have gone past the ‘thought bubble’ stage,” Clark said.

“Safety is paramount for my members and we will always support sensible proposals for improvements that are based on sound evidence. This was not.

“On the NTC’s own admission, rather than reduce fatigue, it could have had the opposite effect by forcing some drivers into second jobs.

“It is symptomatic of the wider problem that the National Heavy Vehicle Law reform process is broken and needs a re-design.”


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