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Darth Retter wants access process reformed

NTC boss wants to improve how road access applications are handled.

 

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is eyeing a fight with road managers in a bid to improve the process governing heavy vehicle access applications.

NTC CEO Paul Retter believes changes need to be made to the way applications are dealt with, particularly where mass is concerned, saying the existing process is inconsistent and often leads to operators being refused access to the road network.

At the recent Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) national conference, Retter floated the idea of a new risk-based assessment tool with set criteria governments must follow when assessing applications.  

“I am proposing that we look at…all of the factors that have to be considered in terms of various new propositions…and come up with a, if you like, risk-based default setting, which says get all these things right the default answer should be yes,” he says.

“What we’ve got at the moment is the default answer of no. I’ve never seen an engineer sacked for saying no. Therefore, you’ve got a lot of asset protectors who sit there who love their road assets, who love their bridges and you’re the enemy because you might damage them.”

Retter says the criteria should cover areas such as infrastructure issues, vehicle design and mass limits.

“What we need to do is to sit down and work sensibly with all the road managers and get a better outcome for you,” he told trucking operators attending the ALRTA conference.

However, Retter has conceded getting governments to adopt change will be difficult and that the NTC will not be able to do it alone.

“I’ll need industry’s help to do this because, trust me, this is cultural change 101 when it comes to road infrastructure managers. I’ll be like Darth Vader entering the arena,” he says.  

“So I’ll need industry’s help as we take this on. My aim is to come up with a solution that allows us to have a default setting of yes unless there is a good reason why it’s no. That will have to be demonstrated and articulated at the time.”

Industry has in the past fought for changes to the process governing vehicle access applications.  

During the development of national heavy vehicle regulations the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) lobbied for external review of applications, but governments shot down the proposal.  

Road agencies can internally review an application and also have the final say on what vehicles access their roads.

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