VTA 2015: Regulators confirm one rulebook approach

By: Paul Howell


Retter and Petroccitto outline a shared vision for national unity

VTA 2015: Regulators confirm one rulebook approach
NTC CEO Paul Retter.

 

Both the National Transport Commission (NTC) and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) say they are working towards a single set of national laws governing road transport.

However, both say the issues are complex and the prospect of a "one rulebook, one regulator" is a long term one, the Victorian Transport Association conference heard this week, "Let’s be blunt – the NHVR and rail law are not perfect," NTC CEO Paul Retter says.

"Slamming eight sets of state and territory laws together was at best a compromise."

"They are not best practice, and there are a lot of things that need to be done to improve them."

Still, he says complying with the present regulation represents important savings for transport operations across the country.

"There are serious implications of not complying with the law," he points out.

As well as the obvious reduction in road safety and the significant financial risks that this can bring, Retter says the risk of enforcement action can also be unexpectedly damaging.

"There are immense costs if you are subjected to enforcement action," he says.

As well as the top-of-line financial penalty, businesses also have to deal with appearances in courts and ongoing discussions with regulators, all of which take resources away from the heart of a transport business.

Non-compliant transport vehicles also cost their owners more in terms of maintenance and on-road costs.

Retter says there are also national costs to non-compliance with heavy vehicle regulation, played out through both road trauma and congestion.

"Over the next 10 years, unroadworthy trucks will cause or contribute to crashes and congestion worth between $2.3 billion and $4.2 billion to the national economy."

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the national regulator has transformed significantly since he took over its leadership just over 12 months ago.

He says he has instituted a "flatter, leaner" structure to the organisation, and is looking to continually develop that as requirements change.

"It’s a transitional structure as we continue to mature and grow," he says.

Two goals for the NHVR over the coming years are to "change the language" used on high performance vehicles (HPVs), and to bring the remaining jurisdictions of Western Australia and the Northern Territory into national law umbrella.

"We need to move from talking about trucks as ‘big’ and ‘heavy’, and instead talk about how they are ‘safer’ and ‘more productive’," he says.

"The consequence of not moving to these PBVs are dangerous to the industry and also the national economy – that’s the push that we need to drive."

With the NHVR’s 2015/16 budget recently approved by the Transport and Infrastructure Council, Petroccitto is confident the NHVR remains in the long-term plans of both government and industry.

"Over the coming years, our aim is to become an effective national regulator," he says, emphasising the ‘national’ part of that goal.

"Consistent rules and regulations provide for cost benefits across the industry and country. Using regulation can help to lift the industry standard."

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