Oversize Overmass inquiry launched

By: Andrew Hobbs

The Federal Government has caved into pressure from companies and industry organisations, launching an independent review into the delays heavy vehicle operators incur in getting special road access permits.

Oversize Overmass inquiry launched
WSP Australia will run an inquiry into the permitting system for Oversize Overmass loads after calls from industry groups


The inquiry will be carried out by WSP Australia and led by Pascal Felix, who was executive director of Heavy Vehicle Services for Main Roads Western Australia before starting with the consultancy firm last year.

Felix’s participation has been welcomed by Western Roads Federation CEO Cam Dumesny, who told ATN that Felix had helped to build a workable oversize, overmass system for the state at the height of the mining boom.

"From our perspective he was the right bloke for the job," he said.

"We pushed for it to be independent, outside of government. You need a separate set of eyes to look at it..."

Calls for a Senate inquiry into the Oversize Overmass system began in May. Read Owner//Driver's first report on the matter here.

The review follows concerns about operators of oversize and overmass vehicles being required to wait for up to several months for permits allowing them to access the road network.

 "The stress level on these operators was just unconscionable," Dumesny says. "They were bearing the brunt of a failing system."

Felix will consult industry, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and road managers – including local councils and state and territory road authorities – in preparing the report.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack says the review will need to come up with both immediate and long-term responses to the issues.

"The Oversize Overmass (OSOM) Review will therefore consider what changes to the regulatory framework and processes are required to ensure OSOM vehicle permits can be issued within a reasonable timeframe, without compromising safety," he says.

Scheduled to start immediately, a draft report is expected to be ready by August and the final report completed by October 2018, with a report to later be provided to federal, state and territory transport ministers for their consideration.

In one example, Doolan's Heavy Haulage had to wait 13 months to have one journey approved. Read our story here.

In a separate announcement, NHVR chief executive Sal Petroccitto welcomed the review, saying it would ensure the industry would get full visibility of the permit process and help it identify future improvements for heavy vehicle access.

"It’s important that the permit process be timely and strike the right balance between safety, protecting roads and bridges and ensuring the productive movement of freight," he says.

 "I look forward to working with Pascal Felix, road managers and operators to identify improvements to the current process."

The changes first came with the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in 2014 – which has since been adopted in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

The OSOM review is to consider the productivity, asset management and safety impact of existing access arrangements for OSOM vehicles.

Among the topics to be considered are:

  1. Current access arrangements for OSOM vehicles and permit approval times, including HVNL designated roles, processes and responsibilities;
  2. Current practices and principles used by road managers to understand the key considerations that underpin the assessment of risk and risk-mitigation decisions;
  3. The factors that contribute to approval times from application to issuing access permits, including route and asset assessments, the IT systems and tools used, and third party consultation.
  4. The impact on industry and road managers from existing OSOM access arrangements;
  5. Attributes or components of equivalent best practice arrangements;
  6. Variations in OSOM access arrangements and permit approval processes between states, territories and local governments, and communication processes for changes to operational policies;
  7. Priority matters to be considered by the National Transport Commission Review of the HVNL; and
  8. Strategies to reduce the number of access permits issued or to reduce the time taken to issue permits, and their effectiveness in improving OSOM access arrangements.

Without compromising safety, the review will consider recommendations which are more quickly implementable on:

  1. The greater use of technology and data in improving OSOM access arrangements;
  2. Improved reporting arrangements for industry, road managers, and governments including regular timely reporting and more accessible statistics;
  3. More streamlined and visible permit approval processes;
  4. Better identification and strategies to support the uptake of best practice;
  5. Improving OSOM access outcomes through better industry planning and engagement;
  6. Improving arrangements for sector-specific vehicles, such as agriculture;
  7. Improving permit approval timeframes; and
  8. Harmonised police and/or pilot arrangements between jurisdictions.

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