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No test of operator business skills says NHVR

Truck operator licensing in Australia will focus on safety, with the national regulator telling ATN it is ruling out a test on business ability


As we’re beginning to hear, two camps are forming on the controversial issue of operator licensing for the trucking industry.

On one side is the Australian Logistics Council, which is all for the idea, and points to the British system for inspiration.

On the other side is the Australian Trucking Association, which is dead against the concept, and points to the British experience as a reason not to do it.

To operate heavy vehicles in Britain an applicant has to prove they are of good repute; have enough money to run the business; have good arrangements for maintaining  the vehicles; and can ensure that they and their staff can obey all the rules.

Australia’s National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has flagged what it prefers to call operator “accreditation”, and says it is consulting with the industry.

The only official NHVR statement that we’ve seen so far is the organisation’s five-year blueprint released in August.

Setting the Agenda – Strategies for a Safer, Productive and more Compliant Heavy Vehicle Industry 2016-2020 says under the heading “Safety Standards” that the NHVR will: “Develop appropriate standards for entry and continued operation in the heavy vehicle industry.”


Regulator will leave business alone

ATN interviewed NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto on operator licensing and it’s clear it’s still early days in the regulator’s thinking on the issue.

Petroccitto says he’s not even sure if the future entry standards can be called “operator licensing”.

“You will note from our strategies [document] we don’t even use the terminology anymore, and that was deliberate because we didn’t want to pre-empt an outcome,” he says.

However Petroccitto knocked on the head one of the most controversial aspects of operator licensing in Britain, in answer to our question about whether operators will have to prove they can run a set of business books.

“No, the business practices of an organisation… is really up to that individual,” replies Petroccitto.

“I can’t tell an operator whether he should run a profitable business, but what we should be making the operator aware of are the obligations in relation to law around the minimum standards be it around fatigue, be it around safety, be it around the benefits that come from having those procedures and processes in play and the productivity outcomes that come from that.

“You running a profitable business isn’t necessarily one of those (legal requirements) but we know that if you’re making money well you’re probably going to be in business a bit longer.”


Lots of questions remaining

Petroccitto says improving safety outcomes is the focus for the upcoming standards for entry and continued operation in the heavy vehicle industry.

“Operator licensing, if we’re going to use that terminology, could be one of those outcomes; we’re not saying it definitely will be,” he says.

“What we’re saying is we need to explore it and do more analysis as to what the appropriate safety outcomes (are) that we want.

“What I have heard from the industry is that they believe some form of I suppose standard or criteria around the way someone enters the industry would be worth investigating.”

On the UK operator licensing scheme, Petroccitto says it has pros and cons and certain benefits but asks: “Is that the sort of scheme that we would want to pursue or not? That needs further policy investigation and understanding.”

ATN asked Petroccitto if any sort of operator licensing system would apply only to the “hire and reward” sector of trucking, or to the “ancillary” sector as well, i.e where trucks are a sideline to the main business.

“It’s premature to really say,” he replies.

Check out the full feature in an upcoming issue of ATNSubscribe here



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