Start date looms, but plenty left to do for NHVR

NHVR takes responsibility for NHVAS and PBS, but operators may need to wait two years for national registration system

Start date looms, but plenty left to do for NHVR
Start date looms, but plenty left to do for NHVR
By Brad Gardner | January 18, 2013

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will swing open its doors next week, but the introduction of a national registration system may be delayed by up to two years.

The Brisbane-based regulatory agency will open with limited responsibilities, taking over the running of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) and Performance Based Standards (PBS) on January 21.

Other roles, such as responsibility for heavy vehicle permits and chain of responsibility enforcement, will follow in July this year after other states and territories follow Queensland in enacting national laws.

But NHVR CEO Richard Hancock has told ATN the level of the complexity involved in adopting a single registration system means operators may need to wait between 18 months and two years before a new scheme is introduced.

"So until the foreseeable future, registration will still continue to be done as it is right now today with the road or transport departments in each of the states and territories," he says.

Hancock says his team is examining a number of options for a new registration system and will present its findings to a meeting of Australia’s transport ministers in May.

"We have some choices. We can build a brand new one from the beginning and that will cost tens of millions of dollars probably to do that. Or we could look to take an existing registration system from a particular state and territory and then try and make that capable of being the national registration system. That’s still going to cost several million dollars," Hancock says.

"Irrespective of which options the ministers choose, you would be looking at an 18-month to two-year timeframe before any new national registration system would be operational because they are such complex systems."

Hancock says one of the challenges involves separating the mix of light and heavy vehicle data in state and territory registration systems and then inserting the data on trucks into the new framework.

"It’s quite complex and quite expensive and not something that can be done lightly," he says.

A national registration system will allow trucking operators to deal solely with the NHVR, even if vehicles are housed in different jurisdictions.

Hancock says the NHVR is also working to make sure the national permits system is ready to go on July 1, the date which all jurisdictions – except Western Australia – plan to sign up to national regulations.

"At this stage I think there will be a common start date. We are still planning for a common, national start date for when the Heavy Vehicle National Law will apply throughout Australia," he says.

The NHVR’s national call centre started on December 14 to field calls from the industry, and Hancock says the operation will not be limited to assisting those contacting the NHVR about its responsibilities.

He says the team will direct calls to the relevant authority if the query is outside the NHVR’s scope. Likewise, Hancock says the website will be built as an one-stop-shop for the trucking industry seeking information about heavy vehicle regulation.

"What the national regulator represents is a single point of contact for anything to do with heavy vehicles. So it’s a specialist dedicated website," Hancock says.

He says the NHVR will be monitoring industry feedback about the site from January 21 and that the agency will implement changes if need be.

"I’m giving a commitment that we will listen to that feedback and if we need to we will change whatever aspect of our operation to increase our customer service," he says.

From January 21, operators will be able to use the NHVR’s website to apply and pay for NHVAS modules. The regulator’s PBS team will handle enquiries and receive applications, but operators will still need to negotiate road network access through state, territory and local government authorities.

The NHVR says its website, from January 21, will house PBS network classification maps, which are currently the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) responsibility. Queensland passed legislation late last year to establish. Other states and territories are due to implement similar legislation to ensure national consistency.

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