Victoria, NSW act to address national regulator’s permit failures


Industry convinces Victoria and NSW to take over the job of processing permit applications from the NHVR.

Victoria, NSW act to address national regulator’s permit failures
Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder says the NHVR will begin processing permits again once it shows it is capable of doing so.

 

Relief is at hand for Victorian and New South Wales operators dealing with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) on permit applications, with both states announcing they will begin processing some permits to ease delays.

From February 25, VicRoads will take control of processing oversize, over-mass and special purpose vehicle access permits for trucks travelling within Victoria’s borders.

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay says his department will also process permit applications for journeys within NSW.

The moves are similar to what is happening in Queensland to address the NHVR’s ongoing failures that have led to trucks being stuck on the side of the road and essential freight going undelivered because permits are not being issued quickly and correctly.

"We are concerned that the heavy vehicle industry in Victoria is being hampered by not receiving access permits from the federal regulator in a timely manner to allow them to operate," Victorian Roads Minister Terry Mulder says.

Mulder took action after the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), the Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) and the Victorian Crane Association (VCA) joined forces to lobby for changes.

While Mulder’s decision will help intrastate operators, those travelling across borders will still need to deal with the NHVR.

"VicRoads will be providing information to industry stakeholders in the coming days and we ask the industry to work with us during this period," he says.

VicRoads previously sent two experts to help the regulator process permits, similar to moves taken by New South Wales and South Australia.

Mulder says responsibility for processing permits will only be handed back to the NHVR once it shows it is up to the task. 

"While there is no timeframe on this temporary measure, the NHVR needs more time to get its operational processes and technology in order so it can support the industry in the right manner," he says.

"We are absolutely supportive of the national laws and the one point of contact. It’s just disappointing we have encountered some issues in this transition period."

Gay says delays in the NHVR processing permits is hurting the industry and that NSW is doing what it can to help.

"Roads and Maritime Services is working with individual councils across the state to help fast track the assessment and issuing of access permits," he says.

"Operators travelling interstate will continue to have permits approved through the national regulator but those seeking permits for travel solely within NSW can also seek approvals directly through Roads and Maritime Services and local councils."

The VTA, the CCF and the VCA were scathing in their assessment of the NHVR, with the CCF going as far as calling the agency incompetent.

Today, the three representative bodies released a statement congratulating the Victorian Government for resolving the matter.

"The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator simply wasn’t coping with requests for permits and businesses were losing tens of thousands of dollars a day," CCF CEO John Stewart says.

"We’re glad that Minister Mulder has listened to industry and found a solution which means we can get back on the road."

VTA CEO Neil Chambers says there will still be slight delays as VicRoads comes up to speed with processing applications, but adds that the delays will not be "nearly as lengthy as what we were facing under the NHVR".

VCA spokesman Brent Stacey says attention will turn to ensuring the NHVR consults with industry about how and where improvements can be made to ensure the permit processing issues do not happen again.

The NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA NSW) urged NSW to follow Queensland's lead.

ATA NSW Manager Jodie Broadbent says the NSW Government should adopt a staged approach to handing the processing of permits back to the NHVR.

"What we need is a review of the NHVR system with a view to implementing the RMS permit system as standard and a gradual approach to handing the processing of these permits back to the NHVR. Staff must be better equipped with industry knowledge to ensure they can perform their jobs well," she says.

NHVR CEO Richard Hancock says there have been challenges in adjusting to the new regulatory framework, which took effect on February 10.

He says the agency is working with all levels of government and industry to streamline the permit process.
 
"Heavy haulage operators run their businesses with the expectation that they will receive permits within hours. I acknowledge that the new requirements and the new processes have not met these timeframes," he says.
   
"The NHVR’s priority is to ensure that these permits are processed quickly."

Hancock says the NHVR has increased the number of staff dealing with permits.

Do you have a story to share about your experience dealing with the NHVR? Get in touch by email or phone 07 3101 6604 to let us know.

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