Ken Wilkie, Opinion

Devil in the details – Wilkie’s Watch

Contradictory information from the NHVR is causing concern for owners of over-size vehicles.
Devil in the details

I’ve concluded that it’s the public sector of our economy that is letting our society down. It is no secret that the Australian economy is suffering a downturn in productivity.

Just prior to Christmas, I was advised that I was required for work on January 6. Oops!

Unbeknown to me and to company management, bureaucracy has moved the goal posts. In times past we used Saturday mornings until 10am to deliver demountable buildings to state and private schools.

It was done that way in the interests of child safety and efficiency. No kids to get run over in what is often a tight and complex manoeuvre to get buildings within crane reach – and no cars to reduce room to manoeuvre or to clutter up parking room for later trucks in the delivery cycle.

Since December 7, 2023, bureaucracy has reduced the time slot back to 7.00am. What was the motive for this non consulted change of times? Trevor Warner from the National Road Freighters Association advised that it has been the case since June 14.

In that time we have done numerous deliveries complying with the 10am curfew deadline. And let me say that even complying with the 10am curfew can involve significant challenges to achieve legal outcomes.

I have a friend, very knowledgeable regarding oversize and over mass, who frequently tears his hair out trying to come to grips with both the complexity and double messages involved with National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) documentation as he struggles to remain compliant.

On New Years Day, Steve and I got together with the computer and a whole new ream of computer paper. The Commonwealth Gazette confirms that the notice is relevant from June 14, 2023 until April 30, 2025.

The Queensland Access Conditions Guide, version 6, commenced on December 11, 2023. Table four, page seven in that guides suggests that vehicles more than 3.1 metres wide or plus 25 metres long are required to not use roads in the south east corner (bounded by Gympie, Toowoomba, Warwick and the southern state border, Gold Coast).

Then we go to page 18. Table 19 reads, “an eligible oversize vehicle can be driven in a location and a day shown in table 19 when complying with the conditions of travel”.

Then under the column ‘Days’, listed are Saturdays, Sundays, state-wide public holidays and on each day of a long weekend. And the under the column ‘Time’, between the hours of sunrise and 10am – including each day of a long weekend. Nothing like a bit of confusion, hey?

This is not unlike that impost on trucks that decrees no heavy vehicles in the right lane. Stupid, selfish and not in the interest of productivity. All I can say is, what a balls up!

Not quite national

Just to confirm my terminology that the NHVR be addressed as the not-so-National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

In the NHVR information sheet – Multi Class 1 load carrying vehicle dimension exemption notice – the application operating conditions goes on to state that each participating jurisdiction has differing application and operating conditions. So it’s not even a ‘national regulator’ within ‘participating’ states.

As I’ve stated often enough in past articles, Queensland requires reduced speeds for over size – heaven only knows what Victoria and South Australia expect.

According to the NHVR information sheet, all states allow load heights to five metres. Oops again! Yes, I know that the Northern Territory has not lowered itself to join the clique that calls itself ‘national’.

I run with an NT permit that allows me to go to 4.9m high. Okay, that’s the NT. But if one checks ‘look up and live’, Energex expects a permit beyond 4.6m to be obtained, and that the route needs to be scoped.

Pretty misleading that the NHVR states 5m is okay without reference to national utilities requiring permits at heights from 4.6m.

So how has this situation come to pass, especially when it is remembered the length and effort that industry went to in having an organisation established that was to unify national transport regulation?

Well, industry has become too complacent and, dare I suggest, industry association membership has become enmeshed with the disease of being politically correct.

Industry membership has swapped the need to get true results for the desire for warm and fuzzy feelings. Maybe industry should heavily involve politicians, preferably those concerned with productivity as opposed to those absorbed with self-serving agendas.

My required reading this month: Crew: The Story Of The Men Who Flew RAAF Lancaster J For Jig, by Mike Colman. A sad story highlighting the sacrifices and integrity of times past; supreme sacrifices made in the interest of the greater society’s wellbeing – not for personal gain.

A Queensland karri tree exists in the Brisbane suburb of St John’s Wood in memory of navigator Cliff Hopgood.

KEN WILKIE has been an owner-driver since 1974, after first getting behind the wheel at 11. He’s on his eighth truck, and is a long-time Owner//Driver contributor. He covers Rockhampton to Adelaide and any point in between. His current ambition is to see the world, and to see more respect for the nation’s truckies. Contact Ken at ken@rwstransport.com.au

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