Industry Issues, Transport Features

NHVR outlines goals for Queensland transition

In an ATN exclusive interview, NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto details what the regulator will be focusing on once it commences operations in Queensland

Since its establishment in 2013 by then federal transport minister Anthony Albanese, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has slowly grown its operations across Australia. The past five years has seen the regulator’s attention turn towards transitioning heavy vehicle regulation services across different states. 

At first, it took over the heavy vehicle services in South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria between July 2016 and December 2019. New South Wales’ safety services were next to follow in 2022. 

Now the final piece of the puzzle has been put in place with the addition of another national jurisdiction. Last Thursday, the regulator announced that it’s set to commence regulating heavy vehicles in Queensland from April 20 this year. NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the transition has been 10 years in the making. 

“To have all the participating jurisdictions under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is a fantastic achievement and something that I hope the industry will see the benefit of,” Petroccitto told ATN. 

Upon the completion of the transition, the regulator will add the Northern region to its operations alongside the Central and Southern regions. An additional 165 roles will be created while many members of Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads (TMR) department will move across to the NHVR. 

The NHVR’s National Services Transition (NST) program will end upon the transition of Queensland’s services, with the program working closely with each state to transition the delivery of most of their regulatory services. 

Interest in taking over Queensland’s heavy vehicle regulation began in June 2021. Petroccitto says the NHVR’s previous experience through its NST program helped the regulator in this particular transition. 

The regulator worked closely with the state’s TMR department to understand its role in the state’s heavy vehicle industry. Petroccitto says the close relationship between the two has seen the TMR become more comfortable in allowing the NHVR to take over Queensland’s regulations. 

Image: Gilles Paire/stock.adobe.com

“There’s been regular working groups that have been managing streams of work,” Petroccitto says. 

“This has been led by a steering committee to ensure that the things that need to be done are addressed in an appropriate manner.” 

The NHVR’s close relationship with the TMR is set to continue as it begins operating in Queensland. Petroccitto says the regulator has maintained close working relationships with all state transport departments across Australia through the NST program. 

The NHVR’s focus over its first six months in Queensland will be to continue gaining a better understanding of its transport industry. Petroccitto says it will also look to strengthen its relationship with the Queensland Police Services (QPS). 

The regulator’s main focus throughout the early stages and beyond will be to use its inform, educate and enforce approach. Petroccitto says the regulator has become more approachable and has improved safety and productivity of the broader Australian industry through this approach. 

Petroccitto says the industry has gained a better understanding of the approach as they become acquainted with it. Another benefit has been the NHVR’s ability to improve dialogue and build rapport with industry members.  

“They’re starting to comprehend that it’s not all about the ticket for us, it’s about ensuring that they understand their role and if they’re not sure of it they can ask us,” he says.  

Petroccitto says the connection between industry and the regulator could continue to grow with its Queensland expansion. The NHVR’s connection in Queensland will also grow further, with the state currently housing its national headquarters. 

Its northern Queensland operations will be based out of Townsville, while it will continue to be headquartered in Brisbane. Petroccitto says the first set of its Queensland transition staff have already commenced onboarding. 

Heading up these operations will be Kelli Ready. Petroccitto says key aspects of her role will be to help provide the NHVR with further knowledge of the Queensland industry and ensure that the regulator’s practices are implemented and optimised.   

“More importantly, her role will be to ensure that the whole supply chain is held to account – that’s a key area we’ve been focusing on with some of the activities we’ve been doing in southern states,” Petroccitto says. 

Western Australia and the Northern Territory will remain as the only states to not fall under the NHVR and HVNL. Petroccitto says that while he’s happy to have all southern and eastern states under the NHVR’s jurisdiction, he will always aspire to expand the NHVR’s reach further. 

“It will be dependent on the governments that are in WA and the NT at the time,” Petroccitto says. 

“There might be a desire for the Prime Minister in his role to look at finishing what he started when he was transport minister.” 

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