Petroccitto sees state transition aid enforcement consistency

By: Mark Gojszyk

Victoria the biggest state to date completing hand-over, NSW in motion

Petroccitto sees state transition aid enforcement consistency
Petroccitto (centre) with state roads minister Jaala Pulford and NHVR chair Duncan Gay


The official opening of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR’s) Victorian office this month may have been a mere formality, given it has been active in the state since December, but for CEO Sal Petroccitto it cemented the addition of a huge link to the borderless enforcement chain.

Victoria is the big fish that completes the southern bloc in the services transition phase, accounting for South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, and cements the NHVR’s evolution towards becoming a truly ‘national’ regulator.

It should, in theory, address concerns around state-based enforcement fragmentation and provide a case study for improvements in operator productivity and the relationship with authorities, Petroccitto tells ATN.

"We now have for the first time what is regarded as a southern region – SA, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria – and generally means we can start to implement borderless enforcement," he says.

"We really wanted to start to get some critical mass, and having linked jurisdictions meant that we could start to demonstrate to industry who had raised with us this notion of inconsistency between one state and another – so, for us, bringing Victoria on board was the critical piece of that last puzzle.

"Even though Tasmania is across the water, you still get a lot of movements across the channel, so those industry operators getting out of the Tasmanian arena into the Victorian and South Australian arena with one regulator really starts to bring home what was originally intended by having a single regulator. So, we’re looking forward to see how that pans out."

How the Victorian handover was announced, here

The Victorian transition, the biggest one to date, presented fewer obstacles than perhaps anticipated, Petroccitto says.

In what may come as a surprise to some, he found the Victorian approach in harmony with what the regulator was trying to implement.

"From a point of view of what Victoria’s approach to enforcement and compliance, it aligned a lot more to our thinking – we are very much of the view of education before enforcement," Petroccitto says.

"The Victorian approach was largely similar – it was using data and information to go and talk to operators and get them to self-improve.

"So, in that regard, the fit was nice.

"Like with any change program, there was always some concern around ‘who are these people, what do they know’.

"But over the 18-month program and by the time we transitioned offices the culture and attitude was one of realising the [Victorian division] is a critical component to the framework and program of work we’re doing."

Next cab off the rank is New South Wales, the transition for which is well underway.

"We’ve undertaken due diligence activities which allows us to understand how they operate – that work was completed at the end of last year," Petroccitto says.

"We’re now looking at developing a concepts of operation – so, how we would operate within NSW’s regulatory framework.

"We’re doing that in consultation with NSW; we’ve established a joint steering committee with them.

"We’re hoping, but we’re still to confirm this, but towards the end of this year or early next year we’ll see a NSW transition.

He due diligence for Queensland is set to start in the first quarter of 2021.

If that goes to plan, NHVR should see a transitional program in 2022.

"Because of the complexity – NSW is a very large, complex state – we’re going to devote all our focus and energy on that [before Queensland].

"But we will work that through with Queensland."

Beyond that, particularly looking at the future of non-participating jurisdictions, Petroccitto observes keenly what comes out of industry inquiries such as the 

National Transport Commission’s (NTC’s) Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review and Productivity Commission's (PC's) National Transport Regulatory Reform report.  

"We’ve made numerous submissions, we’ve put forward what the regulator believes would be a sensible policy framework," he says.

"For us, the work the NTC is doing is really critical, because depending on when it ultimately gets adopted by the Queensland parliament, potentially we’ll have had transitioned five jurisdictions, so getting the right regulatory policy framework is really important for us.

"I’m hoping a proper, focused discussion on some of the key policy issues through the consultation RIS [regulatory impact statement], once they release it, will allow us to really comprehend where things are going and shape that.

"Industry’s engagement to date has been strong, it’s keeping the momentum going, which can be hard at times.

"The other key thing for me is the final outcome of the Productivity Commission report and really what they end up landing and where some of the recommendations go if adopted by government, and how you adapt that with what the NTC is doing.

"We’ve been on record to say we would like to see more alignment with the PC work and the NTC work."


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