Dialogue with the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

We hold these events each year with the Department to discuss, and hopefully agree on, steps to fix areas of concern. The Dialogue is central to ALC’s commitment to work closely with governments of all levels to improve supply chain efficiency. Not surprisingly, the issue of heavy vehicle regulation, and the granting of access to heavy vehicles, featured prominently in the discussions.

A number of delegates called on governments to improve how they cooperate and share information on the issue of heavy vehicle access and permits. A common view expressed was that last mile issues are still significantly impacting on supply chain efficiency, and that there needs to be a more streamlined approval process for High Productivity Vehicles. The examples provided by Dialogue participants, particularly in regards to Sydney, underscore the need for greater government focus in this area. I was pleased by the willingness shown by the Commonwealth to work with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and state and local governments to address this issue, and I look forward to this renewed focus bearing some fruit.

ALC believes that the NHVR should have the primary role in regulating the operation of heavy vehicles in Australia. That is why ALC has been advocating that the NHVR plays a greater role in the enforcement of the Heavy Vehicle National Law in recent submissions to the National Transport Commission (NTC). In particular, ALC is keen to see the National Regulator properly resourced and have the skills necessary to drive efficiency improvements across the supply chain.

One area for concern for ALC members has been the inconsistent enforcement practices of jurisdictional regulators who provide services to the NHVR under service agreements. Inconsistent processes add to the costs of business and impinge on efficiency, and therefore productivity. It is unfortunate that there has been some slippage from the Heavy Vehicle National Law to national state based law. ALC will continue to work on behalf of industry to ensure we achieve a truly national regulatory framework to facilitate the efficient movement of freight across the country.

In ALC’s submission on the 2015-2016 Budget to the Federal Government, we encouraged the Commonwealth to provide capital to enable the purchase of computer equipment needed for the NHVR to collect the funds that will allow it to self-fund recurrent costs, rather than rely on capital infusions from jurisdictions. This one-off investment will mean that the Regulator can then be freed from uncertainty of income streams and permit it to perform its role of administering a single rule book for the Australian road freight industry, thereby unlocking an estimated $12 billion in productivity benefits.

This topic was discussed at the ALC Forum, which was held in early March 2015. In one session, Paul Retter, Chief Executive Officer, National Transport Commission and Sal Petroccitto, Chief Executive Officer, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, spoke on the topic ‘What does good national regulatory reform look like?’ It was a good discussion and demonstrated the commitment by both bodies to make our supply chains more nationally consistent across state borders.

Despite our gains, we do, however, have some way to go to achieve a nationally consistent approach to the movement of freight, particularly in the areas of safety, compliance, access and the provision of national infrastructure. It’s a long journey, but ultimately a worthwhile one, given the benefits that will flow to our industry, the national economy, and more broadly, Australian consumers who purchase from supermarket shelves the goods we move each and every day.

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