NHVR set for September


Heralding the start of a new set of heavy vehicle rules, bus and truck united for a web-based preview

NHVR set for September
NHVR set for September

By David Goeldner | August 20, 2013

The bus industry provided a voice to the recent National Heavy Vehicle Regulator ‘webinar’ which went live on Friday August 16 and was dominated with interests from the freight transport sector.

Queensland Bus Industry Council Executive Director David Tape joined a larger than programmed panel of NHVR administrators, led by the regulator’s CEO Richard Hancock and moderated by its chairman Peter Garske.

Hancock made it clear from the opening of the 75 minute web session that his organisation would work with all associations across freight and people-based heavy vehicle movement throughout Australia.

"September 1 marks the transition from what we knew before to something quite new in this country," says Hancock.

From September 1, NHVR will look after ‘one rule book’ for heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass.

The new Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and regulations are planned to commence from this date in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

The Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory will commence the new national law at a later date, while Western Australia is still undecided about joining the national scheme.

What the NHVR is meant to streamline from September are practical operations for heavy vehicle access, accreditation, vehicle standards and fatigue management within and between states.

Questions along these themes were posed to the webinar panel during the webinar session broadcast by Ustream TV from the NHVR’s Brisbane office.

David Tape raised the matter of work diaries and fatigue management, where harmonisation under national regulation now meant the old rule of not requiring a diary if operating within a 200km radius of a depot was now superseded by a national rule of limiting this radius to 100km.

"This has caused some angst in certain parts of our industry, especially in tour and charter," says Tape.

"And we’ve always pursued the line that government contracted services do not need a work diary because they are regulated through rosters and timetabling.

"What a lot of people in our industry are now asking is, we currently have a work diary, and how long can we use that work diary after September 1 – and what are the costs and availability (of the new diaries)."

Tape was assured that the new diary would be simple to use, and that existing diaries used by bus operators and drivers could be used for a further six months after September 1 – until March – or to replace diaries with new ones beforehand when pages were used.

Peter Garske says the operator – truck or bus – could purchase the new log book diaries anytime from September 1, but continue to use the existing diaries until pages have been exhausted.

And there would be a single national fee of $20 for the new work diary, available through NHVR.

The corollary to bringing in a national work diary regime is also bringing into place uniformity of national penalties relating to mistakes made in the completion of the diaries.

Hancock says the NHVR has worked hard to bring the average ‘cost’ of penalties associated with work diaries around the nation at about $600 pre-September 1, to about $150 if mistakes were made in the new diaries.

While diaries will change, other transport operation aspects won’t be affected, such as registration of vehicles and driver licencing.

However, the NHVR by July 2014 will commence taking a portion of registration fees from the states to fund the operations of the regulator.

Queensland Trucking Association Director Tim Knowles says the freight sector is determined to make the reforms successful, and that appropriate funding streams were critical to the regulator’s success.

"We want to make sure the regulator has the necessary resources to do its role," Knowles says.

Hancock added that a key task of the regulator will be to achieve nationally consistent approaches to transport inspection and enforcement, with transport inspectors being contracted by NHVR – a positive move seen by many in the freight and bus transport sectors.

"This is an area where the regulator wants to do some good work, both from a safety and compliance area," says Hancock.

Backing Hancock’s ambition to achieve consistency of enforcement is the development of a national training package for police and transport inspectors.

"The training package forms part of the transition process from September," he says.

David Tape sees the ‘one regulator, one rule book’ approach to the national heavy vehicle reform as a ‘plus’ for the bus and coach sector, but sought more information about how this move towards uniformity of vehicle inspections would affect bus and coach.

Tape received assurance that any appeal process with a certificate of inspection would go back to NHVR, rather than a state department, under the new rules.

"We would see this as an issue of national consistency," says Hancock.

Towards the end of the webinar, the NHVR’s map-based journey planner system was explained and illustrated, highlighting how operators – mostly in freight – will plan their movements through gazetted designated routes and weigh points.

The session wrapped with thoughts from Knowles and Tape, the two industry representatives on the panel relating to where freight and bus were positioned on the current state of the NHVR’s inception.

Knowles says operator accreditation was an issue, ensuring that the process was consistent between states and that all states ‘get on board’.

Tape says having ‘one regulator’ should be embraced, but there would be some angst, and referred to the advent of a bus industry task force, steered by the Bus Industry Confederation, as the body most capable of working with the regulator to sort through issues affecting bus and coach operators under the new national rules.

The NHVR officially starts operation on September 1, and to get a recap on what you missed from the webinar, go to www.nhvr.gov.au.

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