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National Cabinet backs driver licensing changes

Committee advises go-ahead as industry looks to outcomes


National Cabinet has endorsed Tuesday’s Infrastructure and Transport National Cabinet Reform Committee support of measures to tackle the nation’s truck-driver shortage.

Though the states felt they were unable to run with a long-held trucking industry idea to allow young school leavers to train on forklifts to facilitate their entry into the trucking industry, easing New Zealand truck-driver entry and progressing a competency framework.

The National Cabinet media statement said the move included the following:

  • agreement in principle i) as an immediate priority, all states and territories will enact arrangements to allow New Zealand citizens to use their equivalent New Zealand heavy vehicle licence in Australia for 12 months (or until the licence expires if sooner), before being required to obtain an Australian licence; ii) the states and territories will extend equivalent arrangements to interstate (Australian) drivers to ensure Australian drivers are not disadvantaged. These measures will be a temporary COVID-19 response measure to be reviewed 12 months after implementation.
  • Austroads providing an interim National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework report by February 2022 to help jurisdictions introduce a competency-based licensing framework for heavy vehicle license class progression, with the final framework due in mid-2022 following consultation on framework development and implementation arrangements.

National Cabinet also noted that recent changes in isolation requirements for essential transport workers have significantly eased the pressure points for transport operators.

Read how the truck licensing changes made the national agenda, here

The move to help lure NZ truck drivers comes as the nation faces its own shortfall.

Its national trucking body, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand, forecast in December that its industry would need 7,000 new entrants this year.

As the reform committee was deliberating, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett issues a plea to drivers of lighter vehicles to step up to heavy vehicles as the Omicron Covid variant threatened to wreak havoc

On this side of the Tasman, state trucking industry bodies have been taking to the airwaves to keep the long- and short-term driver shortages issue on the public agenda.

While Western Roads Federation (WRF) CEO Cam Dumesny explained to Radio 6PR

that central Australian floods have exacerbated the issues, earlier, Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) CEO Gary Mahon was on Radio 4BC responding to the National Cabinet development.

“We’re looking at a program to help fast-track that experience to be able to make them job-ready.”

“We certainly have a severe driver shortage at the moment, and there are people out there with truck licences looking to get a start,” Mahon said.

He added that the QTA was looking for further information on what is being done to fix the shortages amid RAT kit struggles.

“On the one hand, it’s a good thing, but on the other hand (it) will take some considerable time to do,” he said.


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