VTA 2021: Victoria to have access system overhaul

By: Mark Gojszyk


Government struggles with demand as productivity boost goes begging

VTA 2021: Victoria to have access system overhaul
Ben Carroll

 

Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll is pledging to establish a heavy vehicle consultative committee and cash to reform Victoria’s access system as it comes under opposition and industry scrutiny.

At the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) conference Carroll notes in the last two years permit applications have spiked from 14,000 to 18,000 annually.

"We have seen massive increases and massive combinations on our Victorian road network," he says.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) revealed about 94 per cent of heavy vehicle access permits are approved, "a classic example of why we should be harnessing what we’ve got to reduce red tape and take every opportunity we can support operators", Carroll adds.

"I’m very keen to ensure we reform and we do innovate – with my background in justice, I always want to bring evidence-based approach to the role at hand.

"That 94 per cent figure – the workload, the process, what it means, I know what it means too.

"[VTA CEO] Peter Anderson has been in my ear as well as [NHVR CEO] Sal Petroccitto’s about what it means to get a reduction to red tape and make sure your task is a little bit easier.

"Because we do want to make it better and easier to access our road network.

"We want to make sure we can prioritise those routes where freight is most heavily concentrated."

Carroll claims that, in the past six months, the Department of Transport (DoT) has been developing a ‘program of work’ that will address many of the issues raised, particularly through ministerial forums with considerable input of the VTA.

"I do want to finalise a new work program that will support the VTA on behalf of all its members," he says.

"I’ve invited the VTA and stakeholders from to join me in a new heavy vehicle consultative committee.

"I don’t want to say it’s going to be bureaucracy because it is about getting your voice to the table at the ministerial level to cut through and make important change.

"I do want it to be a genuine partnership between industry, government and community that harnesses the expertise you have so we can begin that task and move more with less while we have a more congested road network.

"I am confident that together we can unleash a new round of productivity."


Read about the NHVR’s fatigue technology framework trials, here


 

To assist that process Carroll pledges $2.8 million to fund structural assessments to expand the network to over-size over-mass (OSOM) vehicles.

"The more widespread take-up of high productivity freight vehicles is important not just to drive efficiency but to drive down emissions," Carroll says, pointing to the legislated target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Later in the conference, shadow Victorian ports and freight minister Roma Britnell charges the Victorian government with dragging its feet on reforming an unfair system, pointing to exorbitant bridge assessments as part of the permit process.

"When you look at these HPV vehicles, which add value for customers because of reduced cost, why are we seeing only in Victoria to get those permits between $1,200 and $55,000."

"I wrote to him [Carroll] five months ago, co-signed by people significant in the industry, and he doesn’t bother to write back to me.

"Does that say [to operators] you care?

"People are not able to afford to pay thousands of dollars for bridge assessments, which don’t really change from one assessment to the next when there’s only a couple of millimetres’ difference between vehicles.  

"You’re just making money out of people and it’s not actually fixing the bridge.

"I raised later this in parliament [with no response]." 

 

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