Industry frustration over PBS delays

Trucking lobby warns PBS scheme is doomed if governments don't start taking action

By Samantha Freestone

The performance-based standards (PBS) scheme is doomed if "certain states" don’t stop dragging their feet, according to the trucking lobby.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says the whole process is akin to "walking through treacle on a cold day", claiming there are "too many reports and not enough action" from ministerial leaders and government-funded industry bodies on the issue.

"[PBS] has gone away from its intent from the Council Of Australian Governments (CoAG)," he says.

"The object of PBS was to have one national tick off to get approval for vehicles and a network for vehicles to operate on."

The outburst follows the publication last week by the National Transport Commission (NTC) of route maps for PBS vehicles.

NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos says the maps are a starting point to identify and address the gaps and mismatches on the existing national road network and move toward a more integrated and productive transport system.

But the fact the maps "don’t join up", according to St Clair, is a point of "enormous cynicism and frustration".

St Clair points out, constitutionally, state ministers don’t have to action what is suggested to them by federal ministers. This, he says, is much of the problem.

"They make changes to proposed legislation," he says, calling some state ministers "pathological asset protectors".

NTC Communications Manager Paul Sullivan is optimistic although realistic about the current state of affairs.

He says operators should make contact with "road owners" before committing to applications for a PBS permit.

"We have worked with a mapping company and it highlights gaps in the routes and maps," he says.

The frustration is industry wide with the NTC holding a meeting of minds last week with trailer manufacturers, operators and freight customers to come up with a solution.

"We ran a focus group with some people who are interested in the reform and are getting frustrated," Sullivan says.

"We got them in the room with some state and territory people and we identified areas of room for improvement."

Road access and communication between road agencies and councils were all raised as issues by industry on the day.

A discussion paper outlining the findings of the group is due out by November with a regulatory impact statement to follow.

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