The ATA has applauded the decision by the Australian, state and territory transport ministers to establish a single national registration and licensing system for heavy vehicles and truck drivers from 1 July 2009.
The ATA has also applauded the ministers’ decision to consider a single regulation system for heavy vehicles.
ATA Chief Executive, Stuart St Clair, says the decisions would increase safety, slash red tape and make it easier for the trucking industry to attract and train new employees.
“The Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, has shown a great deal of leadership in confronting the shambolic system we have now and recognising that it needs to go,” Stuart says.
“At the moment, most trucks are registered by the state and territory registration authorities, although trucks that operate on interstate routes can be registered under a federal scheme,” he says.
“The system is riddled with 108 years of anachronisms and quirks from previous failed attempts to establish consistent registration arrangements across the country.”
“Heavy vehicle regulation is even worse. Some of the rules change every time a truck crosses a state border. For example: – a key safety issue facing the industry is fatigue management.”
The states and territories are introducing new fatigue management laws from September.
But the laws are not consistent, and Western Australia and the ACT are not introducing them at all. – governments agreed in 1999 to introduce Higher Mass Limits (HML) for trucks with road friendly suspensions, but there is still a sharp difference between NSW and the other states.
As a result, meat producers in regional New South Wales have to pay an extra $60 per tonne in transport costs compared to their competitors in Queensland, because trucks in Queensland are allowed to carry heavier loads.”
St Clair says the establishment of the single licensing system would be a tremendous opportunity to improve the training received by new truck drivers.
“The ATA is looking forward to working in partnership with the Government and the Transport Workers Union to improve the existing graduated licensing system so it recognises competency based qualifications,” he says.
“What we need is a clear pathway of high quality training for people who want to work in the industry. It would improve safety and make it easier for the industry to attract staff.” I
“The ATA recently highlighted the importance of integrating driver training and licensing in its submission to the Australian Government’s Skilling Australia for the Future discussion paper,” St Clair says.
The discussion paper sets out reforms to the training system and announces the Government will provide 450,000 new training places in priority occupations under its Productivity Places Program.
Heavy vehicle driving is included as one of the priority occupations. Under the Productivity Places Program, job seekers who train as heavy vehicle drivers will undertake a Certificate II or III in Transport and Logistics (Road Transport).
But these certificates do not qualify drivers to work in the industry.
Drivers must also hold the relevant heavy vehicle licence from their state or territory government, and those licences are graduated.
A driver applying for heavy rigid licence must have held a car licence for two years.
The driver must then hold the rigid licence for 12 months before being eligible for a semi-trailer licence.
The submission points out that job seekers who want to take up one of the many vacancies for heavy combination and multi-combination drivers are required to seek work driving a rigid truck for their first twelve months in the industry.
There are fewer vacancies for rigid truck drivers.
As a result, some job seekers give up and do not ever work in the part of the industry with the greatest skill shortage.
“Job seekers who are eligible to receive subsidised funding for their initial training may be deterred from joining the industry because of the cost of upgrading their qualifications later to drive heavy combination and multi-combination vehicles,” St Clair points out.
“In addition, those who obtain their initial licence and then move interstate cannot upgrade their qualifications without returning to their original jurisdiction, because the states and territories do not recognise each other’s licence testing.”
“The solution is to integrate the training and licensing systems better, so there is a clear pathway of high quality training for people who want to join the industry.”
Download the ATA’s submission