NHVR meeting pursues compliance, enforcement framework

By: Brad Gardner

Gathering of regulator, government transport authorities and police representatives seeks to establish national approach

NHVR meeting pursues compliance, enforcement framework
National approach: NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto seeks consistent treatment throughout Australia.


Representatives from Australia’s road transport and police agencies have converged in Brisbane today for discussions on a national framework for heavy vehicle compliance and enforcement.

The likes of the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), New South Wales Police, VicRoads, the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and others are engaged in talks at the behest of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

The day-long event, dubbed the National Compliance and Enforcement Operations Forum and organised by the NHVR, even includes representatives from Western Australia and the Northern Territory — the only two jurisdictions yet to enact the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the time is right to develop a national approach given that the majority of Australia is now operating under the HVNL.

"Today’s gathering is the first step towards developing a truly national approach to heavy vehicle safety and compliance," he says.

"A national approach means sharing what we know across agencies and across borders to better target enforcement practices.

"It means taking the best in safety and compliance systems and practice from one state and rolling it out across other jurisdictions."

The state and territory representatives will today canvass compliance and enforcement priorities and how to improve cross-border consistency.

Petroccitto says a national system, if adopted, will mean truck drivers will be dealt with consistently when travelling across borders.

"A national approach to regulatory compliance means that a truck driver in Queensland would be treated exactly the same way as a truck driver in South Australia in terms of how he might be assessed against a roadworthiness issue, a loading issue, a defect issue. And that is what industry has been asking for," Petroccitto tells ATN.

It also means states and territories will need to agree to consistent laws and regulations around matters like vehicle mass, dimension and load — something they have been unable to do so far.

But Petroccitto is hoping the forum will act as the catalyst to getting jurisdictions to reach an agreement.

The forum marks the first time the NHVR has been able to gather all the key personnel from road transport and police agencies in the one room, and Petroccitto says further meetings are on the agenda.

"We will probably propose a quarterly get-together but reserve the right to bring the group together as required. So I will be seeking that commitment from all of the jurisdictions today," he tells ATN.

"Let’s say a particular issue might come up around chain of responsibility that needs to be addressed quickly and we don’t have a get-together for another three months. We might seek to bring them together so we can discuss the importance of that issue."

Today’s forum does not include any industry representatives, but Petroccitto says they will eventually be involved.

"Industry has been told the reasons why they weren’t at the first agenda. They supported the need for the regulator and the jurisdictions to have the first robust discussion," he says.

The NHVR is yet to determine if it will hold separate meetings with government agencies and industry or if all parties will be brought together.

"We’re going to look at that…whether we have industry come in for parts of the same forum and then they may depart depending on the issues or we may keep them together. That will be discussed today in terms of what the best operational model will be," Petroccitto tells ATN.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA), which has long advocated the need for a national approach to heavy vehicle compliance and enforcement, supports the gathering.

"Improving national safety and compliance outcomes is a shared responsibility across government and industry and I look forward to working with forum members to get that balance of responsibilities right," ATA CEO Chris Melham says.

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