Federal Government expects extensive “repair work” will be necessary to fix the mess the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has made of the permit application process.
Ministerial confidence in the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) ability to process permit applications is shot, with news the agency is unlikely to take back control of permits “for several months”.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has expressed disappointment with the NHVR’s abysmal handling of permits since February 10, while also declaring the regulator was not equipped to deal with applications.
Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia were all forced to take back control of processing oversize, over-mass and special purpose permit applications for intrastate operations because the regulator could not do the job.
“A lot of repair work will need to be done, and I would expect that these interim arrangements we have with the states will be in place for several months until everyone has got the confidence that the new system will work well,” Truss says.
“From the point of view of [transport] ministers, we are not going to allow a return to the national regulator distributing these permits until we are satisfied the systems are fixed and are going to work.”
Making the comments following a meeting of transport ministers yesterday, Truss has conceded the NHVR, which was beset by delays prior to its February 10 launch, did not have the tools in place to look after permits.
“It is clear that the systems that were in place were inadequate to do the job. In spite of an audit conducted by one of the country’s leading auditing companies which said it was ready, the reality was it was not ready,” he says.
Truss also emphasised his dissatisfaction with a clause in the Heavy Vehicle National Law relating to timeframes for permit approvals.
“There are deficiencies even in the legislation, which allows 28 days for there to be a permit issued. That is clearly unsatisfactory,” he says.
Many trucking outfits – particularly those in the heavy haulage game – require permits within hours.
Despite his criticism of the NHVR, Truss says the Federal Government is committed to national heavy regulations, which do not exist in Western Australia or the Northern Territory.
“We need to get it right. This government is not going to walk away from it, and we will be working with the states to achieve satisfactory permit-issuing systems. But in the interim the states will take back that role so the industry can get its permits issued quickly and on time.”