Ministers push ahead with heavy vehicle regulation and road reforms


Transport and infrastructure Council agrees on implementation package for national heavy vehicle registration scheme

Ministers push ahead with heavy vehicle regulation and road reforms
The Council recommends setting up a heavy vehicle ‘written off vehicles register’ on priority.

 

The Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) has outlined heavy vehicle regulation and road reform plans for the next one to two years.

Among other things, the TIC has agreed implement a package for the introduction of the national registration scheme for heavy vehicles and three key road reform outcomes.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) says today’s meeting in Brisbane outlined some "excellent results" for freight and logistics.

It particularly welcomes the introduction of a national registration scheme for heavy vehicles, including a national number plate and removing the requirement for heavy vehicle registration stickers.

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) says it "understands that the projects approved under the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative 2017-18 includes our proposal to investigate the feasibility of user-pay loading and unloading infrastructure". 

One transport mode unimpressed with the outcome was maritime, with Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL), nation’s largest representative of maritime interests, saying that "at a time when the industry is crying out for a solution to the domestic commercial vessel regulatory regime funding to be resolved this only adds further angst to an already anxious sector".

"Silence is no answer," MIAL CEO Teresa Lloyd says.

"The industries affected – fishing, tourism, regional services – deserve better than to be ignored by those elected to represent them.

"These grass-roots businesses deserve certainty, stability and support. The amount they need is a tiny fraction of the billions announced for rail and road."

This was the seventh meeting of the TIC, which includes federal, state and territory transport, infrastructure and planning ministers and both Australian and New Zealand-based local government association.

Representatives from the ALC, Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Australasian Railway Association (ARA), Australian Automobile Association (AAA), ALRTA, Bus Industry Confederation, Ports Australia and Truck Industry Council also attended the meeting.

ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says the meeting dealt with several matters that are important to boosting supply chain efficiency and the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

It covered topics such as heavy vehicle road reform, vehicle regulation, safety, automated vehicle technology, and rail regulation and investment.

Heavy vehicle regulation

The implementation package for the introduction of the national registration scheme for heavy vehicles has been agreed upon as part of today’s meeting.

"This package, which includes the necessary funding agreements and the national number plate, also features a commitment to a range of industry benefitting measures for 1 July 2018," the meeting communique notes.

"These include removing the requirement for heavy vehicle registration stickers, more flexible and more consistent options for heavy vehicle registration transactions, and more seamless interstate registration transfer capability."

The TIC has endored the 2017-18 heavy vehicle road safety initiatives work plan that will be undertaken by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and target a range of industry and government recommended areas, and include issues such as national heavy vehicle monitoring, share the road, chain of responsibility, proof of concept infrastructure, and rest stop sharing.

"A range of heavy vehicle policy initiatives designed to boost Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet productivity through increases in allowable volumetric load capacity without increasing mass limits were also agreed.

"These initiatives include greater as-of-right, general access for Performance Based Standard Level 1 heavy vehicles where the infrastructure allows it, greater accountability by road managers to the NHVR for road access requests, and increased access for heavy vehicles 4.6 m in height that meet prescribed conditions."

The TIC agrees that New South Wales should lead a working group to establish a heavy vehicle ‘Written off vehicles register’.

Itl notes that all state and territory jurisdictions, industry stakeholders and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) must set up a heavy vehicle ‘Written off vehicles register’ "on priority".

It recommends New South Wales to lead the way in establishing a working group that delivers this task.

"ALC is especially pleased that there has been agreement on the introduction of a national registration scheme for heavy vehicles, including a national number plate and removing the requirement for heavy vehicle registration stickers," Kilgariff says.

"These form part of a suite of sensible reforms that will come into effect on 1 July 2018, and will help establish more efficient administrative arrangements for freight and logistics operators, which reflect the reality that freight does not stop at state borders."

Heavy vehicle road reform

Three heavy vehicle road reform outcomes have been agreed upon, including:

  • implementing independent price regulation for heavy vehicle charges
  • designing and considering a forward-looking cost base for roads
  • seeking agreement on a range of heavy vehicle user charging trials.

The reforms will be pursued over the next two years in association with federal, and state and territory governments.

Key decisions on this will be sought at the next TIC meeting in November.

"The Council will work with the Council on Federal Financial Relations to explore the potential revenue impacts across government of reform options, and to agree on alternative distribution agreements if roads are to be funded from direct charging revenue," the communique notes.

The group also agreed to a set of broader policy priorities over the next two to three years that relates to both heavy vehicle road reform and the full land transport market reform.

Among other things, this includes developing charging and rebate options for operators, and developing low-cost technologies for data capture purposes.

"Progress in these priority areas will ensure that heavy vehicle reform is implemented with full market reform in mind," it notes.

Road safety

The Council has discussed national actions to address road safety concerns following high-level road safety meetings with stakeholders.

It notes the development of proposals to:

  • remove barriers to the increased testing and enforcement of drug-impaired driving
  • investigate options to reduce driver distraction from mobile phones.

Automated vehicles

The TIC discussed current and future actions required to support the commercial deployment of semi-automated and driverless vehicles in Australia.

It found that one of the key preparatory moves would be to work on legal issues such driver licensing, road rules, infrastructure requirements and safety assurance measures.

The Council has agreed upon the National Guidelines for Automated Vehicle Trials that will provide "consistent conditions for safe trials across Australia, while maintaining flexibility and innovation for industry". 

Rail

The Council also discussed infrastructure and investment needs to address rail freight challenges in the future.

"ALC also welcomes the discussion of rail issues at today’s meeting, particularly the focus on infrastructure investments that enhance network capacity, the role technology can play in achieving better outcomes, the importance of rail in our freight network and the need for better land use integration," Kilgariff says.

"Each of these issues have been long-held priorities for ALC, and will be central aspects of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy as it develops."

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