NatRoad calls for access to head government’s transport agenda

Heavy vehicle access, HVNL, NatRoad, automated access system, Kanofski Review,

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The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has called on the Albanese Government to make improving heavy vehicle access its number-one priority in transport.

NatRoad Chief Executive Officer Warren Clark said the country’s Transport ministers decided in December last year to extend the deadline for legislating Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) changes into 2025.

One reform not held up by delays to the HVNL is the introduction of an online automated national access system to give heavy vehicles as-of-right access on national highways.

However, NatRoad has pointed to access targets outlined by the 2022 Kanofski Review of HVNL reform as a best-case scenario for improved access, saying the pace is too slow.

“The Kanofski recommendations called for an automated access system within three years and a reduction in the number of permits by 50 percent in the same period,” Mr Clark said.

“While we welcome the work that is underway, it’s clear the current pace of reform means we will fail to meet those targets.”

Mr Clark said improving heavy vehicle road access is critical, not only to increase efficiency, but also to cut emissions.

“Moving more freight with fewer vehicle movements makes for safer roads while at the same time reducing diesel use and carbon emissions,” Mr Clark said.

“Automated access is a critical economic reform and must be treated as such.

“Governments should back this reform agenda with enough resourcing to make it happen according to the Kanofski timeline.”

NatRoad made access a major “ask” of the Federal Government in its recent Budget submission.

It called for increased resourcing to scale up and deliver the introduction of the national automated access system, deploying rapid economic appraisals to open up as-of-right access on key national highways, and extending funding for the NHVR’s Strategic Local Government Asset Assessment Project.

Governments should also proceed with reforms to increase the mass, height and length of general access vehicles, and deliver national Performance Based Standards (PBS) networks.

“We are only two months into 2024 and NatRoad already has a collection of member cases where some road managers seem like they are just trying to find ways of saying ‘no’ to better access, ‘no’ to improved productivity and ‘no’ to lower emissions,” Mr Clark said.

“There is a lot of talk about reducing emissions, but these words are empty unless they are backed by more productive road networks across state borders.

“Improving energy efficiency by running more productive heavy vehicles is one of the most cost-effective decarbonisation strategies which can be deployed today.”

Read the NatRoad Budget submission.