Petroccitto eyes fight with road managers over access conditions

By: Brad Gardner


NHVR boss isn’t happy with having road managers override his decisions.

Petroccitto eyes fight with road managers over access conditions
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto may push for greater control over heavy vehicle access conditions.

 

A fight over heavy vehicle access conditions is looming between the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and state and local governments. 

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto has expressed his displeasure with a clause in the Heavy Vehicle National Law guaranteeing state and local governments the final say on which vehicles can travel on their roads. 

The trucking industry raised concerns about the clause prior to the introduction of the law throughout most of Australia, and now Petroccitto is tinkering with the idea of pushing for it to be amended. 

"I’m a national heavy vehicle regulator but I don’t have any ability to override a decision from a road manager I don’t think is appropriate," he says. 

"I have some opportunities to challenge conditions around a vehicle and the types of conditions that are put on a vehicle, but in terms of the way access occurs on the network I have no jurisdictional control over.

"That is something that may not necessarily continue and it might be something that I suggest to the NTC [National Transport Commission] and [transport] ministers should change."

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) previously called for the decisions of road managers to be subjected to external reviews to guarantee transparency and accountability. 

However, state and local governments are firmly opposed to allowing the NHVR to overrule jurisdictions on access decisions. 

Petroccitto has named other areas of the law he wants changed, such as the 28-day limit available to authorities to approve permit applications. 

He believes the limit is too long, but adds that he is unsure what it should be. 

"What is the right outer limit? I’m not 100 per cent sure yet," he says.

Petroccitto also wants greater jurisdictional harmonisation in the treatment of different classes of vehicles.

"I’ve got a national law that still deals with certain classes of vehicle differently, whether you’re in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria," he says.

"You can’t be a national regulator trying to achieve national outcomes when you have to deal with certain classes of vehicle differently day to day.

"The way a crane’s treated in Victoria should be exactly the same way the crane’s treated in Queensland. It’s not. The way we deal with tri-axle dollies in South Australia should be the same way we deal with them in Queensland. They are some of the issues we need to focus on."

Petroccitto and newly elected Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Troy Pickard this week released a joint statement declaring a commitment to work together on improving heavy vehicle access while ensuring local roads are protected.

"Councils have a responsibility to protect road infrastructure assets, but also know that the ‘first and last’ mile of many heavy vehicle journeys is vital for local productivity and to keep the country moving," Petrocitto says.

Picard says councils invest about $7.5 billion annually in the local road network.

"It is important to protect local government's most important asset while managing road access to maximise benefits to our community," he says.

The commitment was made following Petroccitto’s appearance at ALGA’s recent Local Roads and Transport Congress.

The NHVR CEO pushed for greater effort from road managers to improve the time taken to process heavy vehicle permits.

Petroccitto says the NHVR has been working with local governments to obtain pre-approval for agreed routes, preventing the need for trucking operators to lodge permits.

"Through partnerships with governments and industry associations, more than 500 routes are already pre-approved, mostly in Victoria and Tasmania, drastically reducing the number of access requests sent to local government road managers," he says.

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