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NTC holds firm on transport reforms

Annual report outlines HVNL and automated vehicles as key reform agendas


The National Transport Commission (NTC) has pointed to Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review and automated vehicle regulation as two important areas of land transport reform, in its annual report released today.

The NTC notes there were 3.26 million road freight vehicles in Australia in 2017 compared with 2.44 million 10 years prior, with the domestic freight task projected to increase 26 per cent by 2027.

Outgoing chief executive Paul Retter reflects on a year for the NTC that included: introduction of a new end-to-end regulatory regime for more automated vehicles; improvements in take-up of high-productivity and safer heavy vehicles; changes to light and heavy vehicle standards; a comparison between a forward-looking cost base and the current pay-as-you-go heavy vehicle charge model; and updated load restraint guidance material.

“In more recent times our land transport systems have increasingly focused on meeting the needs of our national and international markets,” he says.

“We have been examining the impact of new technologies across the transport and logistics sectors and what this might mean for the way governments regulate in the future. In particular, we have been identifying and removing regulatory barriers to technological innovation.

“NTC has developed a road map of automated vehicle-related reforms designed to address challenging concepts such as who is legally responsible for automated vehicles, what safety assurance measures should be in place for automated vehicle systems, dealing with data protection and what should happen to insurance laws.”

The NTC says it expects to draft a whole new HVNL after it completes its review of the existing law. Read more, here


According to the report, developments or updates in the pipeline centre around:

  • Safety assurance system for automated vehicles – automated vehicle safety self-certification decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) due November 2018 following consultation.
  • Heavy vehicle driver fatigue data – a partnership between the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) and the NTC is evaluating the road safety impacts of the HVNL on heavy vehicle driver fatigue. The team will analyse collected data and prepare findings in a final report due to the NTC by the end of 2018.
  • Driver reforms to support automated vehicles – working with road agencies and transport departments to develop the detailed policy recommendations and legislative analysis necessary to establish the new purpose-built national law.
  • Measuring land transport productivity – experimental transport satellite account by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to measure the contribution of the transport sector to Australia’s gross domestic product is currently being developed and is expected to be released in late 2018.

NTC chair Carolyn Walsh expects the automated vehicle program and the HVNL review to result in significant changes to Australian land transport regulation approaches.

“The NTC will endeavour to ensure these reforms result in a system that is flexible, agile and responsive, and can better accommodate the safe use of new and emerging technologies,” she says.

Walsh also praises former chair David Anderson, who resigned in December 2017, and thanks Retter for his work at the commission ahead his own departure.

“[Anderson] provided significant input at both the Commission and management levels, and his efforts were appreciated by those of us who worked closely with him,” she says.

“As chief executive, Paul brought a more structured, transparent and direct approach to engagement between the NTC and stakeholders that built greater confidence and trust in the organisation.”


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