Industry's compliance costs need oversight says HVIA

Hacking gives evidence to PC transport regulatory reform hearings

Industry's compliance costs need oversight says HVIA
Todd Hacking


Compliance cost monitoring needs to include design and manufacturing regulations governed by the Road Vehicle Standards Act, Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) advises.

HVIA CEO Todd Hacking gave evidence to the Productivity Commission’s public hearing into National Transport Regulatory Reform in Brisbane recently, explaining why monitoring should move beyond the on-road and in-service costs currently underpinned by the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). 

"Monitoring the cost of compliance is good for industry as it ensures there is an evidence base to argue for removing red and green tape," Hacking says.

"It is also a transparent way to ensure regulatory agencies are kept accountable." 

Hacking said he was concerned that the report’s recommendations were missing the compliance costs imposed on the design and manufacture of heavy vehicles – making it harder to advocate for reform.

"Sensible regulation is necessary but there are many instances of over-reach and of regulation for regulation-sake.

"HVIA is constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce these burdens on industry and we hope this will allow us to do that. 

"Just because it is costs governed by a different Act or a different department it still adds to the costs of putting a heavy vehicle on the road."

Hacking was also there to support the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to overhaul the ADRs for a more effective, streamlined approach. 

"The ADRs are outdated, difficult to change and haven’t kept pace with the industry’s thirst for advancement," he said. 

"They do not encourage investment and don’t incentivise technology and innovation. 

"This needs to change to ensure improved safety and productivity measures are adopted."

The HVIA submission to the draft PC report urged that the review to recognise that the regulatory framework for vehicles is broader than the HVNL and includes the Motor Vehicle Standards Act (MVSA), which is currently in the process of transitioning to the  Road Vehicle Standards Act (RVSA). These pieces of legislation govern the first entry of vehicles to the market through the Australian Design Rules (ADRs).

"As a result, it is important to consider the interaction of this Commonwealth legislation with the NHVL which governs in service regulation of heavy vehicles.

"These issues are compounded by the interactions between the new vehicle approval processes under the Road Vehicle Standards Act and the HVNL processes for new PBS vehicles.

"In particular, the scope of exemptions to ADRs available for PBS vehicles needs to be reviewed and to be made as simple as possible."

Read the HVIA’s case on PBS tyre choice, here 


HVIA is of the view that the current regulatory framework involves a relatively high level of regulation of vehicle standards on new vehicles entering the fleet and a relatively low level of regulation of vehicle standards for the existing fleet which acts as a disincentive for the entry of newer and safer vehicles into the fleet.

"This is evinced by Australia having a much older average age of its heavy vehicle fleet than most comparable countries," it points out.

"The NHVR’s National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey demonstrated that new vehicles are significantly safer than older vehicles.

"However, because it is easier to manage compliance on new vehicles entering the market rather than vehicles that are in service, new vehicles are subject to a larger than proportionate share of the compliance effort and costs.

"Recent changes to legislation have tended to increase the scrutiny and compliance costs for new vehicles"

As a related issue, HVIA believes that the Chain of Responsibility (COR) legislation places a responsibility on all members of the transport chain to consider the safety features fitted to the fleets they operate or contract for transport services.

However, most of the discussion around COR tends to focus on traditional enforcement issues such as speed and fatigue.

HVIA would like the legislation to more explicitly require operators to consider their fleet purchase maintenance and replacement practices as part of their Chain of Responsibility obligations.

In relation to simplifying heavy vehicle classification and expanding the use of notices, the key matters it says road managers should work on are:

• to eliminate the differences between the access approvals for PBS vehicles and the corresponding level prescriptive vehicles. "This would reduce the total number of notices required and would therefore simplify the process of working out which notice applies to each vehicle category."

 • in addition to guidance material for local government. there needs to be education of local government staff on the increased safety, reduced overall vehicles numbers and reduced wear and tear on road infrastructure associated with using PBS vehicles. Data on this issue was presented as part of the National Transport Commission’s (NTC’s) PBS Marketplace Report.

 • education of local government on the use of conditions on notices to facilitate safe access should also be a matter of priority.

 • the number of applications for access permits on a particular road routes and/or bridges should be used to prioritise gazettal and upgrade activities in relation to that route.

• permits granted should be accessible in the public domain and any application that is refused must be published along with a reason for refusal. This additional transparency will lead to better outcomes for the heavy vehicle industry

"HVIA supports the suggestion in the draft report that most of the safety benefits over recent years have been driven by improvements in vehicle safety and road infrastructure," the organisation says.

"Similarly, most of the improvements in productivity have been driven by giving more productive vehicles better access to the road system by improvements in road infrastructure and vehicles.

"Therefore, to achieve future safety and productivity benefits the regulatory framework needs to encourage the uptake of new vehicles.

"The age of the Australian heavy vehicle fleet is evidence that the current regulatory framework does not do this."


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