NHVR's permit struggles prompt states to intervene

By: Brad Gardner

Queensland begins processing some permits, while Victoria provides officers to help the NHVR.


State governments have intervened to help the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) process permit applications as the new agency continues to struggle with its workload.

The Queensland Government has taken the drastic step of taking back control of processing applications for oversize, overmass and special purpose vehicles after the trucking industry complained about the service it was receiving from the NHVR.

Meanwhile, Victoria has despatched two of its permit officers to the NHVR’s head office in Brisbane to try and clear the backlog of permits that have continued to build up since the regulator took over responsibility for permit applications on February 10.

The moves mark an escalation in measures taken to assist the regulator, which last week recommended trucking operators deal directly with local governments if they wanted applications dealt with quickly.

"Due to some teething issues, many heavy vehicle operators in Queensland have had trouble receiving permits over the past week," Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson says.

"NHVR has agreed to temporarily delegate approvals for some heavy vehicle permits back to the Department of Transport and Main Roads."

It is unclear how long Transport and Main Roads will continue doing parts of the NHVR’s job, with Emerson saying he has not put a timeframe on when his department will stop handling permits.

He says applications not related to oversize, overmass and special purpose vehicles should be directed to the NHVR.

"Yesterday we began processing more than 100 permit applications and these vehicles will still be subjected to the rigorous safety approval processes as always. We will also work with police and local government on the approvals process during this period," Emerson says.

The Victorian road transport authority, VicRoads, says it is doing what it can to assist the NHVR and reduce the impact moving to the new regulatory framework is having on the industry.

"Two of VicRoads’ senior permit officers travelled to Brisbane on February 14 to assist NHVR and, where possible, Victorian operators," VicRoads Director of Regulatory Services Richard Bell says.

"VicRoads is supporting the NHVR and operators and working closely with the Municipal Association of Victoria in relation to local councils' new roles in providing road manager consent for travel on local roads."

Unlike Queensland, Victoria has not taken over responsibility for processing permit applications.

"Heavy vehicle drivers and operators of restricted access vehicles need to apply to the NHVR for a permit for access to Victorian roads," Bell says.

"Our main role with access permits is to continue to respond, in a timely manner, to requests from the NHVR for road manager consent for travel on roads for which VicRoads is responsible."

Likewise, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has not followed Queensland’s lead.

"Operators must lodge the access application through the NHVR website, via mail or by fax," a spokesperson for the RMS says.

"Roads and Maritime Services is responsible for assessing access requests to utilise the state managed road network only."

NHVR CEO Richard Hancock says the agency is listening to the concerns of the industry and that the measures announced covering permit applications are intended to accelerate the approval process.

"Last week, the NHVR allowed any operator who wanted to speed up their permit processing time to directly seek consent from the applicable local government and attach a copy of the consent to either a new or existing NHVR permit application," he says.

One of the NHVR’s critical functions is to act as a single point of contact for heavy vehicle permit applications. The measure is designed to save trucking operators from having to deal with multiple levels of government to gain road access.

Have you dealt with the NHVR? Lodged a permit application request? Tell us about your experience through email or by phoning 07 3101 6604.

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