About NTC / News / E-Newsletter / December 2014

To subscribe to receive our e-newsletter via email, please join our subscription list. If you are looking for earlier editions of our e-newsletter please use our advanced search.

NTC News December 2014

In this edition:

Message from the Acting Chief Executive
Positive outcomes from ministers meeting
Update on current NTC projects
Staying in touch with industry
Annual Report released
Issues Paper released – National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Safety Workers 2014 Review 
Discussion Paper released – Chain of Responsibility Duties Review November 2014

Message from the Acting Chief Executive

Welcome to the December edition of the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) e-newsletter.

Our primary role at the NTC is to find the best ways to develop practical, national reform proposals to improve safety, productivity, environmental performance and regulatory efficiency. We have been very pleased with the NTC proposals taken to the Transport and Infrastructure Council over the past 12 months.

On Friday 7 November the final Council Meeting for 2014 was held in Launceston.  NTC Chief Executive, Paul Retter, presented on both current and future NTC projects.  The overall feedback was extremely positive with the council approving a number of new business cases to proceed to projects on our work program, along with approval on current projects moving to the next phase. 

This outcome shows our work program is on the right track to meet the requirements of both industry and government to help improve productivity growth in Australia’s transport freight sector, and improve safety on the network. 

Following is a summary of the key ministerial decisions and outcomes from the Council Meeting and an update on current NTC projects.

As we look back on the achievements of the past 12 months, I would like to thank our many stakeholders from government and industry for their invaluable contribution and expertise.  We have worked hard this year to ensure we listen carefully to our stakeholders to make sure we are proposing the right reforms for Australia’s future.

Likewise, thank you to our dedicated team at the NTC for your hard work and commitment.

I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to our NTC commissioners, who began as a new board in January 2014.  Your hard work, counsel and support over the past year have been invaluable in helping us work towards positive long-term national reforms for the Australian transport industry.

As we are all very aware, safe transport practices on our roads are fundamental to the safety of our community.  Please take care when travelling during the holiday period. 

Enjoy your festive season and I wish you all the best for a happy and prosperous 2015.

Michelle Hendy
Acting Chief Executive
National Transport Commission

Positive outcomes from ministers meeting

Review of the Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness Program

The main focus of this ministerial meeting was finding best ways to improve the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles in Australia.

Unroadworthy heavy vehicles can be a significant risk to drivers, operators and the rest of the Australian community and there is evidence that more can be done to make sure problems are fixed before heavy vehicles head out onto the road.

The Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness program is a joint effort between us and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) that aims to prevent crashes and keep more people safe on our nation’s roads.

There are four broad areas we are focusing on with the NHVR: obligations and inspections, how to measure roadworthiness, how we could apply chain of responsibility to vehicle standards and roadworthiness, and the requirements of accreditation systems. 

In phase one of this program we released a report in July examining the current system and practices. 

In phase two we released a report identifying opportunities for improving the system and asked for submissions, which closed on 26 September. Many of the issues and potential changes identified in this report were provided to ministers in the Council Meeting.

Following agreement by the ministers at this meeting there will be some short term, medium term and long term actions, and it is important to understand that we don’t want to roll out reforms too fast without properly consulting Australia’s transport industry and other industries that may be impacted by proposed reforms.

One significant step ministers have agreed on already is to introduce more robust auditing requirements to the NHVAS between now and 1 July 2016 that will improve the confidence we can have that a HV accredited under NHVAS is in a roadworthy condition.

In the next phase, based on the consultation we have undertaken and the submissions received, we are now finalising the proposals as part of the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). The consultation RIS will go out mid Jan- mid March 2015. We will then provide final recommendations to transport ministers in July 2015.

As always we provide evidence-based advice to ministers, which incorporates extensive risk analysis. The aim of the proposed reforms is to save lives without putting an unnecessary burden on the transport industry.

New Projects – Moving Forward

In the Council Meeting the Transport Ministers approved the following NTC business cases to proceed to projects on our work program.  The next step is for us to start the planning process for these projects.  We will publish more detail about the timelines for these projects in our work program early next year.

  1. Review and update the Load Restraint Guide
  2. Heavy vehicle driver fatigue data
  3. Productivity Program
    • Case studies of access management decisions to support road managers
    • Increasing allowed volume where mass is not the constraint
    • Assessing the effectiveness of the PBS marketplace and identifying barriers to vehicle design innovation.

Review and update the Load Restraint Guide

The Australian Load Restraint Guide (the Guide) provides critical guidance material for the road transport industry and enforcement authorities for the safe carriage of loads on and in road vehicles. It is one of the most popular downloads from our website.

The Guide needs reviewing and updating. For example, new practices and options for safely securing and moving loads have been developed since the Guide was last published. In addition, braking technology in new vehicles has improved, which may potentially require revisiting the forward restraint requirement. There are opportunities to improve access, interpretation and readability of the Guide to support drivers, operators and enforcement officers.

Industry tells us that some states and territories interpret components of the Guide differently, causing confusion for some interstate drivers.

Our recent consultation with stakeholders found widespread support to review and update the Guide.

This project is expected to offer a range of benefits which contribute to a safer transport system in Australia.  It will ensure the Guide remains up-to-date and will assist the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to ensure consistent interpretation by enforcement officers and operators across Australia.

The NTC will begin working on an updated Guide in early 2015. The NTC will collaborate with the transport industry, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, enforcement officers and other experts as part of the project.

Heavy vehicle driver fatigue data

Our role at the NTC is to develop transport reforms that drive change to improve the safety, productivity and efficiency of Australia’s transport network. One of the major components for developing effective reforms is useful data.

Good data tells us where the problems lie and where improvements and change is needed, and provides the platform for evidence-based policy. Reforms can be developed based on hard facts.

Historically it has been difficult to find comprehensive, accurate and relevant data on heavy vehicle driver fatigue in Australia. This project will develop a framework for ongoing data collection in order to provide a solid evidence-base for future decision making. The benefit of this project is improved safety. The project will result in a cost-effective framework and phased approach to collecting fatigue related data on a national level.

Productivity Program

We have grouped the projects below under the “productivity program” because the primary objective for all these projects is improved productivity –  reduced costs for industry to move the same or greater payload, and reduced costs and greater effectiveness of government activity such as enforcement and regulatory oversight.

Case studies of access management decisions to support road managers

Transport policy makers, commentators and industry have for some time recognised that the lack of consistency in heavy vehicle road access decisions across state, territory and local government boundaries is problematic. This inconsistency has constrained productivity through limiting the use of higher productivity vehicles.  This is where the NTC and its partners can make a difference. 

This NTC project seeks to achieve more productive use of the road network to meet Australia’s growing freight task.  Specifically, an increase in the proportion of higher productivity vehicles on the Australian road network in general, combined with the opening up of specific, key routes for access, with appropriate conditions.

This project will identify and share examples and case studies with road managers of the positive benefits of higher productivity vehicles under appropriate risk management and access conditions.

Increasing allowed volume where mass is not the constraint

We are all aware that the Australian freight task is growing. Without further productivity improvements and with even more freight on the rail network, more trucks will be needed to meet this freight task with flow on effects to road safety, emissions, congestion and infrastructure wear. Industry reports that up to 80 per cent of vehicle trips are constrained by the volumetric storage capacity of the vehicle (i.e. ability to fit freight into the allowable length, height and width), rather than mass limits. 

This project seeks to increase the productivity of industry and the road network through improved access for higher volumetric productivity trucks where mass is not a constraint, without the need for major infrastructure investment.

Assessing the effectiveness of the PBS marketplace and identifying barriers to vehicle design innovation

At the NTC, we have a big focus on working closely with our major stakeholders, listening to their issues and attempting to improve the regulatory environment, so they can grow their business and reduce their costs.

Many of our key stakeholders have identified the need for a review of the effectiveness of the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) scheme, including whether the scheme is meeting the original policy intent, and also whether there are modifications that can be made to improve the effectiveness of the PBS marketplace.

BenefitsImprove productivity of the road network and freight fleet by reducing barriers to innovation and increasing the ease of new, higher productivity vehicles reaching the marketplace and becoming more commonly adopted. Improve road safety by providing the PBS assessment assurance of the safety of innovative vehicles (which have been demonstrated to be significantly safer than conventional vehicles on average). Improve environmental performance by reducing the number of vehicle kilometres and trips to move the freight task.

Amending the Australian Dangerous Goods Code to allow the carriage of electronic documents in the vehicle.

This business case has been included in the NTC legislation maintenance program for further consideration.

This is a proposed change to allow heavy vehicle drivers to carry electronic versions of documents required under the Dangerous Goods Code and regulations.

The Reform Implementation Monitoring Report

The Reform Implementation Monitoring Report, which was recently released, demonstrates to ministers, governments, industry and the public that the NTC and our partners are serious about achieving our outcomes and managing the obstacles we encounter along the way.

The Reform Implementation Monitoring Report monitors the implementation status of nationally agreed transport reforms by the Commonwealth, states and territories. The 2014 Report focuses on seven reform areas:

  1. Heavy vehicle regulatory reform
  2. Heavy vehicle charges
  3. Rail safety regulation and investigation reform
  4. National Ports Strategy
  5. Australian Road Rules
  6. Australian Vehicle Standard Rules
  7. Australian Dangerous Goods Code

The NTC would like to thank state, territory and the Commonwealth government and regulators for providing their input into this important report. The report can be found at www.ntc.gov.au

Update on current NTC projects

Intelligent Access Program Review

The findings from the review of the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) confirmed the importance of transparency and opportunities to improve processes. 

IAP gives heavy vehicles greater access to wider variety of roads in exchange for information from satellite technology that monitors the location and speed of heavy vehicles, making sure they only travelling on roads they have been approved to travel on.

The Review recommended five reforms to improve the transparency of the standards and making more information available, including greater reporting of IAP usage statistics; making a version of the IAP specification available to the public; reviewing the re-certification process and publishing information about the data that operators are able to obtain from service providers.

In August this year the NTC received submissions from transport operators, peak industry bodies and governments, commenting on our draft recommendations. Importantly, the concerns raised in public feedback mirror those identified in NTC’s recommendations.

The report, feedback and findings were presented to the Council and Ministers supported all recommendations.  Transport Certification Australia will implement the recommendations and we will report on the progress in its annual National Reform Implementation Monitoring Report. 

A copy of the report can be found at www.ntc.gov.au

Rail Safety National Law

The Rail Safety National Law(RSNL) was approved by Ministers in 2011. The objectives of establishing the national law are to support a seamless national rail transport system, improving rail safety, reducing operational costs for regulators and the compliance burden for businesses and increasing interstate competition.

As part of the NTC’s commitment to monitor and refine laws to ensure they are achieving their intent, we have identified opportunities with our partners to further reduce regulatory burden and provide greater clarity under the RSNL.

The major changes to the RSNL approved by Ministers are:

  • Removing impediments to the Regulator performing its functions:

    • Improving the performance of rail safety officer functions by allowing for less restrictive access to information and documents.

    • Removing the requirement for the Regulator to request written information or documents before requiring a person to appear to give evidence or produce documents.

  • Increasing Regulator discretion to waive industry fees

  • Providing clarity to some provisions and increasing transparency and improving safety by expressly providing for a requirement that rail infrastructure managers of private sidings give the Regulator information about railway operations and risk management processes. The regulator is already imposing this reporting requirement as a condition of registration.

We expect this legislation will be passed by the South Australian parliament in the first half of next year.

Rail stakeholders discuss priorities with NTC

The NTC held an Industry Advisory Group workshop with the rail industry on 26 November. The aim of the workshop was for the rail industry to identify their priority issues or challenges going forward. There was robust discussion, which provided a good forum to identify some of the key concerns, including:

  • introducing mass-distance-location charging for heavy vehicles
  • identifying, and where appropriate reduce, the burden of different environmental regulatory requirements across jurisdictions on rail transport
  • developing consistent national road penalties for breaching rail level crossings
  • improving release of jurisdictional data and information on road, rail and port assets to support improved efficiency and long term certainty in investment for the rail sector
  • RISSB to adopt maintenance of the Rail Safety Worker Medical Standards
  • investigating the regulatory and operational policy barriers to increasing utilisation of ‘short haul’ rail
  • better understanding the current and future transport task in Australia
  • measure, report and improve regulatory efficiency

The NTC will use this information as input to its strategic planning and work program development process.

Electronic Work Diaries

New amendments agreed by ministers mean electronic work diary (EWD) information can only be used for enforcement if it relates to fatigue compliance under the HVNL, rather than the much broader powers that had been allowed previously.

The Transport and Infrastructure Council recognised industry concerns about the potential sensitivity of EWD information, such as GPS location data, and endorsed the changes in November.

Regulators and police cannot use EWD information to enforce other areas in the national law, such as speeding offences under Chain of Responsibility. It also ensures that any EWD information is anonymised when it is used for research.

The changes are in line with principles agreed by ministers under the NTC’s Compliance and Enforcement Framework for Heavy Vehicle Telematics.

The implementation of EWDs will be voluntary and are an alternative to written diaries, which are onerous, leading to truck drivers occasionally forgetting to fill them in or making mistakes. EWDs will make it much easier for drivers to show they are complying with the law and will help them meet their safety needs, because they can automatically alert drivers when breaks are required.

The amendments also implement other recommendations agreed by Ministers in May 2014, including clarifying the compliance and enforcement approach and updating the law to take into account changes in technology.

We expect these amendments to the law will be introduced into the Queensland parliament in the first half of next year.

Clear guidelines for the telematics industry

The NTC has released a new data dictionary and a finalised telematics framework to help roll out new technology across Australia’s heavy vehicle industry.

The NTC Compliance and Enforcement Framework for Heavy Vehicle Telematics, establishes 10 principles that relate to the privacy, compliance and enforcement, minimum standards, regulatory efficiencies and consistent application.

The framework provides certainty to the heavy vehicle industry, the technology industry and government about how telematics would work into the future.  While there will always be new and emerging technologies, getting the right people working together means this Framework provides the telematics market with clear guidance.

The Framework links to the Transport Certification Australia (TCA) data dictionary that ensures regulatory applications are consistent with international standards and are interoperable with other systems.

The data dictionary can adapt to technology advances, and importantly, encourage affordable integrated commercial and compliance telematics applications.

Aligning the data dictionary with international standards ensures Australia keeps pace with global trends and the market can develop innovative solutions within a framework.

To read the full framework visit www.ntc.gov.au

Staying in touch with industry

The last few months have seen NTC staff speak at a number of transport industry events both in Australia and internationally.

NTC Chief Executive, Paul Retter, spoke at three major transport events in October, including the ARRB Conference in Sydney, where he provided an insight into NTC’s work on regulatory reform, including:

  • designing legislation that delivers safety outcomes for the community, while improving productivity
  • preparing for new technologies
  • transport Infrastructure reform. 

Paul raised the topic for discussion of ‘how do we ensure long-term investment is directed to the right infrastructure projects and who should pay for this?’

At the ATA Conference in Melbourne, Paul and Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO, gave a joint presentation on the Review of Heavy Vehicle Roadworthiness Program.  NTC are working with the NHVR on the review which focuses on heavy vehicle roadworthiness inspection systems and the accreditation scheme (NHVAS). Paul outlined the three phases of the review and the four broad categories where changes are likely to be made. 

At the CBFCA conference in Queensland, Paul focused on Chain of Responsibility (CoR) and how it affects industry in their day-to-day business. The audience found this presentation really useful, as Paul explained how all parties in the supply chain are affected by CoR under the National Heavy Vehicle Law and provided ‘real-life’ examples of how CoR can be applied to transport operators.

Last month NTC attended the 13th Heavy Vehicle Truck Technology (HVTT) Symposium in San Luis, Argentina.  The conference was attended by delegates from around the world, with big contingents from Australia, Sweden, Holland, South Africa and Latin America.

Experts from visiting countries shared the latest developments and innovations in the heavy vehicle sector, while also educating and informing Latin American engineers, operators and policy makers.  It was a great opportunity to hear about the progress other countries are making in this area, look at new policies and programs and their benefits, while making valuable expert contacts for future work and discussions.

It was very clear from the conference that Australia is widely viewed as a “pioneer” in the heavy vehicle sector.  We are the only country that uses B-Doubles as a standard mode of transport across our freight network.  Australian delegates were able to pass on extensive learnings and data relating to the benefits of using these heavy vehicles, from a productivity, safety and environmental perspective. These insights were particularly useful to the local audience, as the San Luis provincial government had just approved the first B-Doubles for use in Argentina.

Australian delegates were also able to learn about “best-practice” transport policy settings and program developments across Europe and other countries and how these might be applied in an Australian setting. 

James Williams said “A real standout was the extent to which Australia’s experience with B-Doubles, Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs) and Performance-Based Standards (PBS) was a touchstone for so many of the presentations. We are global leaders in the development of heavier and longer vehicles that can operate safely”.

Speaking at these events allows NTC to inform the sector about what we are currently working on and future work programs being considered.  Speaking to industry directly provides an opportunity to obtain feedback on NTC programs, legislation and other transport projects.  Keeping in touch with business helps us understand the context they operate in – this is integral when developing transport reforms.

For copies of NTC CEO speeches and presentations please visit www.ntc.gov.au 

Annual Report released

The NTC 2013-14 Annual Report was released in early November.  The Report outlines the achievements over the last 12 months, some of which are listed below.

  • The NTC welcomed a new board of commissioners in January 2014, which reflects the recommendations of the 2012 Review of the NTC and other relevant transport bodies, to improve state and territory involvement in the NTC’s reforms and to enhance outcomes.

  • Introducing a performance-based framework to set and monitor the NTC’s work program, as well as delivering on a number of high-priority projects, including:

    • A new heavy vehicle charges determination.

    • A review of penalties in the heavy vehicle national law and evaluations of the Australian Road Rules, Australian Vehicle Standards Rules, and the framework of dangerous goods regulation.

These projects were completed on time and to a high standard.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Office of National Rail Safety Regulator commenced operations in FY 2013-14.  We are proud of our role in leading the development of the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Rail Safety National Law in collaboration with our reform partners, and are committed to supporting the new regulators as they work towards optimising their operations.

You can read more about these and other NTC milestones achieved in the full report.  An electronic version is available at www.ntc.gov.au

Issues Paper released - National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Safety Workers 2014 Review, November 2014

The National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Safety Workers (2012) (the Standard) is currently being reviewed to assess that all medical information is current and up-to-date, and reflects the need for a safe working environment for the rail industry. 

As part of this Review, the NTC has developed an Issues Paper and is seeking advice from stakeholders including the medical community, industry groups and associations, rail operators and employees, unions, regulators and transport departments.  This will form the basis for discussion and inform any changes that may be required to the next edition of the Standard.

Submissions will be accepted until 9 January 2015 online at www.ntc.gov.au or by mail to:
Att: Rail Medical Standards Review 2014
National Transport Commission
L15/628 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Enquiries can be made via the NTC website or by phoning (03) 9236 5000.

Discussion Paper released - Chain of Responsibility Duties Review

The NTC is considering options for improving the Heavy Vehicle National Law’s chain of responsibility (CoR) to encourage safer behaviour on our roads.

The review follows the recommendations of the CoR Taskforce, which reported the need for further review to the Transport and Infrastructure Council in May 2014.

As part of the first stage of the review, a Discussion Paper has been released seeking feedback from stakeholders about the various options for improvement.

The NTC is seeking advice from government, industry, enforcement agencies and other interested parties about:

  • Issues with the current regime
  • Options for improvement
  • Potential impacts the preferred option might have, legislatively and operationally.

Initial recommendations will be presented to ministers in May 2015, with further work to follow on refining the option to progress.

Stakeholders interested in further discussing the options may contact Stephanie Fargher, Senior Policy Analyst on (03) 9236 5047 or sfargher@ntc.gov.au.

Submissions are invited until 30 January 2015 and will be accepted online at www.ntc.gov.au or by mail to:
Att: Chain of Responsibility: Duties Review
National Transport Commission
L15/628 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Enquiries can be made via the NTC website or by phoning (03) 9236 5000.


Last Updated: 20/12/2016