VTA: Licence loophole puts motorists in danger

The ability for visa-holders to drive heavy vehicles without physical testing has the VTA worried

VTA: Licence loophole puts motorists in danger
VTA CEO Peter Anderson.


The CEO of the Victorian Transport Association Peter Anderson has expressed his disappointment at the ease at which overseas applicants can gain heavy vehicle licences in the state.

Speaking with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, the industry spokesman says "it’s a problem that’s been raised very loudly within the industry" and a topic the VTA is talking about "at great length at the moment."

According to Anderson, drivers entering Australia on certain visas can, through a vocal promise when undertaking a car licence test, gain a heavy vehicle licence without demonstrating an ability to operate a truck.

"Depending on the type of visa used to get into Australia, you must transfer your international licence to an Australian licence – driver licence that is – within three to six months," Anderson says.

"To do that you must go for a [car] driving licence test… and during that process you are able to identify… that you drove a vehicle of a greater size than a car to the tester.

"Upon which they will then give you an exemption certificate to drive a vehicle of greater size."

Questioned on whether there is any physical testing involved, Anderson says "it’s all done by paperwork."

 "You do need to provide evidence in English that you have driven a vehicle of greater size in another country," he says. "Which then allows the form to be ticked in the appropriate box."

The story began with Mitchell’s discovery of a website called punjabitrucklicense.com.au, where new Australians, or those with visas to work in Australia, can receive guidance on accessing licences to drive trucks up to 70-tonne in English or Punjabi.

Local want-to-be truck drivers would need to do between two to six weeks of training, Anderson says, and then be tested.

"The process should be: you should do the training, you should be able to understand a range and series of procedures associated with driving a vehicle of greater size – and the regulations accordingly - and be tested on those."

But for those entering Australia on visas, this is not the case.

"It’s not the system, and it puts all motorists in danger at some stage," Anderson says.

Anderson says Western Australia Senator Glenn Sterle is heading a committee on the issue.



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