NHVR ‘incompetence’ can’t continue: Industry

Industry groups demand Victoria take back control of permit applications


Industry’s patience with the floundering National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has reached breaking point, with three leading representative bodies now demanding Victoria strip the agency of responsibility for heavy vehicle permit applications.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA), the Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) and the Victorian Crane Association (VCA) have issued an open demand to the Victorian Government to address the NHVR’s failings since its launch on February 10.

The NHVR was supposed to be the sole contact point for heavy vehicle permit applications but it is struggling to process permits, leaving trucks stranded on the roadside, freight undelivered and many operators facing losses into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The three representative bodies want VicRoads, which recently sent two permit officers to help the NHVR process applications, to take back responsibility for issuing permits for oversize, over-mass, crane and other special purpose vehicle movements.

"The situation needs to be addressed immediately before Victoria’s industry completely grinds to a halt.  This issue is having a huge financial impact on industry – the heavy machinery and materials many companies need to operate are grounded due to ridiculous bureaucratic red tape and incompetence," CCF CEO John Stewart says.

Queensland has already taken back control of processing oversize, over-mass and special purpose vehicle applications and NSW and South Australia have sent officers to the NHVR’s headquarters to help out.

NSW is also allowing operators to contact the RMS directly about the status of permit applications once they have been submitted to the NHVR.

"We have now been told today by the NHVR that as of Tuesday, February 18, over 2,000 applications had been received nationally but only 258 permits have been granted. That’s a very poor completion rate of less than 13 per cent," VTA CEO Neil Chambers says.

"You can understand the complete frustration of heavy haulage and crane operators because under the previous state-based system these permits would have been processed and granted in less than 48 hours, and many considerably faster than that."

Even when the NHVR does manage to process a permit, the VCA says the documents are riddled with errors.

"Crane operators have had enough. Their livelihoods are now threatened by this mess," VCA spokesman Brent Stacey says.

"Enquiry phone calls are put on hold for excessive times, promises of return phone calls aren’t fulfilled, and when you do get to talk to someone, in many cases they clearly haven’t been trained well enough to understand the heavy haulage and crane industries’ needs.

"Transport companies have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts, and construction, infrastructure development and mining operations are being adversely affected as work can’t proceed until heavy machinery or cranes are delivered."

Stewart says the transport industry cannot wait one more day for the "application debacle" to be fixed.

He says the VTA, VCA and CCF agree VicRoads delegation sent to the NHVR’s Brisbane head office must have the power to issue permits for oversize, over-mass and crane movements.

"We suggest that this remains in place until such time as the NHVR can demonstrate that it has its operational processes and supporting technology in order to deliver the expected standard of regulatory services," Stewart says.

The overwhelmed NHVR claims it is working with state and local governments to streamline permit application processes, particularly for the heavy haulage sector.

NSW yesterday announced measures to help the regulator in the wake of industry complaints about the service it was receiving from the regulator. The experts will also be responsible for educating NHVR staff about the needs of the trucking industry.  

The NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA NSW) wants the State to follow Queensland’s lead and take back control of permit applications.

What has your experience dealing with the NHVR been like? Get in touch with us by email or on 07 3101 6604 to let us know.

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