More LG support ‘needed to finish national transport reforms’

While national heavy vehicle safety reforms begun a decade ago are largely complete, a new report has revealed unresolved issues.

These include slow and inconsistent approval processes for heavy vehicle access to local roads in some areas and unnecessary derogations from the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

The Productivity Commission’s National Transport Regulatory Reform report published last week also found that “some local governments struggle to deliver timely heavy vehicle access assessments, and access decisions often lack transparency”.

The Federal Government commissioned the report in 2019 to assess the economic impact of reforms agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2008-09 – and to complement other Commonwealth priorities such as the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and the Heavy Vehicle National Law review.

In its review, the PC found “productivity gains from the reforms have been much smaller than the original optimistic estimates [and that] there is scope for significant further gains with additional reforms.

The report recommends, among other things, that local governments be properly resourced to support the implementation of planned reforms.

“COAG [sic] should ensure that local governments have access to the financial and technical capacity they need to perform their role as asset managers for local roads.

“Transparency and accountability for performance should accompany any additional support, particularly with respect to access permit processing times and the use of notices to gazette heavy vehicle routes.”