ATA and ALC butt heads on ‘national operator standard’

Peak trucking body sees idea as costly operator licensing in disguise

ATA and ALC butt heads on ‘national operator standard’
Operator licensing is back on the agenda


The operator licensing debate has roared back into life having remained more or less dormant for the past four years.

And the protagonists are familiar.

The venue is the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review consultations and, once again, it pits two organisations that often have other areas of agreement and cooperation: the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).

The spark this time is the ALC’s submission, which proposes a national operator standard (NOS) that would see firms needing to pass a series of financial, systems and information hurdles to qualify.

The ALC casts the concept as more conducive to safe and sustainable trucking operations.

The ATA disagrees vehemently, describing the concept as equating to a $3.6 billion tax on freight and jobs.  

"Under the ALC proposal, operators would be subject to mandatory electronic recording of driving hours and the location of every heavy vehicle," ATA acting CEO Bill McKinley says.

"Every heavy vehicle operator would need to have a safety management system.  

"The proposed standard would also tell businesses how to structure their finances by requiring them to hold a certain – but completely undefined – level of capital. 

"The national operator standard is just operator licensing under a new name."

Read about the ALC’s case for a national operator standard, here

The ATA charges the ALC with failing to provide any numbers on the benefits and costs of its plan. 

"In contrast, we have put in the time and money to cost operator licensing," McKinley says. 

"In conjunction with NatRoad, we commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to assess the costs of implementing an operator licensing system. 

"In their independent report, Deloitte Access Economics found that a national operator licensing system would cost $3.6 billion over 10 years if it was rolled out nationally – which is what the ALC is proposing – or $3.2 billion over 10 years if it was applied to the existing HVNL states.  

"A national version of the system would need to cover some 146,900 businesses, comprising about 56,000 hire and reward operators and 90,900 businesses that operate trucks to support their own operations. 

"I want to thank NatRoad for their commitment to getting hard numbers on the cost of operator licensing. 

"In the ATA’s view, operator licensing would be nothing more than an anti-competitive tax on hardworking small and family businesses."


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