ALC Compliance Summit: No apologies for NSW approach

Duncan Gay says NSW won’t pull back on its rigorous enforcement of chain of responsibility or vehicle standards

ALC Compliance Summit: No apologies for NSW approach
NSW roads minister Duncan Gay.


NSW roads minister Duncan Gay says only the most compliant trucks and fleets will be able to contribute to the numerous infrastructure projects being undertaken across the state over the next few years.

In a wide-ranging keynote address to the Australian Logistics Council’s Compliance Summit this morning, Gay also backed his state’s rigorous approach to heavy vehicle inspections and questioned the efforts of other states.

"As the ‘through state’ for the eastern seaboard of Australia, NSW carries more than 460,000 truck movements on our roads every day," he says. "This number dwarfs other states.

"That’s why in NSW we have 300 vehicle inspectors – every one of them a qualified mechanic. In some states, there are fewer than 30 active frontline inspectors."

Gay says the issue of heavy vehicle safety becomes even more acute as the NSW economy grows.

"With what I call ‘The Wave’ of construction activity occurring across NSW in the next four years – I currently have 4,600 road and freight projects ‘on the go’ – the issue of truck maintenance and roadworthiness is of paramount importance," he says.

"From massive upgrades of the Pacific, Princes, Newell, New England, Great Western and Golden highways to Australia’s largest motorway project, WestConnex – millions of cubic tonnes of cement, aggregates, steel and spoil will be moved by hundreds of thousands of truck movements.

"With the NSW economy now the strongest in the country, the freight task is also expected to double in the next decade."

Gay says he has tasked Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime Services to develop minimum standards for trucks working on government-funded projects, such as WestConnex. It is part of a rigorous application of chain of responsibility ideas to the government’s own hiring of freight services.

"I like to remind government officials how everyone is an important link in the overall supply chain – we all have a shared responsibility," he says.

The NSW Government will also look to improve productivity for the industry, by expanding the road network for high-performance vehicles and reducing the number of smaller truck movements on the state’s roads.

"This in turn helps to reduce ‘wear and tear’ on state and council owned roads."

Gay says NSW has seen a significant turnaround in its road safety outcomes since a series of avoidable fatalities occurred in 2012 and 2013. "As the Minister responsible for road safety in this state – and with the wider community at the time fast-losing confidence in the condition of the local and national trucking fleet – I had no choice but to act decisively."

As well as expanding the inspection workforce, NSW introduced a point-to-point camera system and Safe-T Cam network to clamp down on speeding and detect fatigued drivers. The state has also introduced eight heavy vehicle safety stations on busy freight corridors.

"Combined with 300 dedicated and temporary roadside inspection sites across the state, we undertake approximately three million vehicle checks and screenings each year," he says.

But with the exception of SA – which also hosts a significant amount of through traffic – Gay says he is disappointed the NSW efforts have not been matched in other jurisdictions.

"I’ll be frank; other jurisdictions need to ask themselves how serious they are about upholding and enforcing national Chain of Responsibility (COR) laws," he says – noting that NSW has been responsible for almost 90 per cent of all COR prosecutions so far.

"When it comes to heavy vehicle safety and compliance NSW is happy to do the heavy-lifting, but I strongly suspect something is seriously out of whack at the moment."

The Compliance Summit continues in Sydney today and tomorrow.


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