NatRoad focuses on driver retention

A NatRoad adviser says the new federal government keep drivers in the industry, with proper HVNL reform being the key to retention

NatRoad focuses on driver retention
NatRoad wants to see driver retention and HVNL reform become key focuses

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says it wants the new federal government to focus on keeping drivers in the transport industry before a critical worker shortage exacerbates.

A 2016 Volvo study says the Australian transport industry is expected to move double the amount of freight it once did by 2030.

Data from before the pandemic suggests around 80 per cent of transport employers will experience a skills shortage.

NatRoad says reforms to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), which has been underway since 2018, must be further developed to accommodate for retaining more drivers.

"This is an enduring problem made worse by the pandemic," NatRoad compliance and legal adviser Richard Calver says.

"Some small but vital changes to the law should be introduced ahead of what will be a re-framed way ahead. There needs to be immediate action to start the move to fit-for-purpose regulation."

When speaking at the National Roads and Traffic Expo in Sydney in May, Calver says certain amendments to the HVNL must be made soon to stop turning drivers away from the transport industry.

"To show that the HVNL must be more than the application of petty enforcement, misplaced penalties and red tape, there should be the immediate abolition of fines for matters that are trivial and that don’t achieve their purpose of assisting with fatigue management," Calver says.

RELATED ARTICLE: NatRoad hits out at rising HVNL fines

"For example, fines for not drawing a straight line in the work diary or not pressing hard enough on a top copy of a diary entry should be eliminated – these are all issues where members are fined.

"NatRoad policy is that there should be the immediate abolition of these fines and a warning system put in place for administrative offences so that a driver isn’t fined $172 for a paperwork mistake that would cause a revolution if applied in the public service.

"Issues like these have nothing to do with good fatigue management and feed the ‘revenue raising’ perspective on the enforcement of the HVNL."

NatRoad says it wants to see a stronger focus on improving access for heavy vehicles.

"Neither the industry nor the regulator want a system in place that requires the processing of almost 120,000 permits a year," Calver says.

"The HVNL review was supposed to be the vehicle through which suitable reform could be framed and implemented. But as T.S Eliot famously said, between the idea and the reality falls the shadow."

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