The ATA made the comments during last week’s release of its submission to the review of the Australian Government’s competitive neutrality policy. “The NHVAS enjoys a net competitive advantage as a result of its public ownership,” said ATA Chair, Geoff Crouch.
TruckSafe, established prior to the NHVAS and operated by the ATA, is a business and risk management system to improve the safety and professionalism of trucking operators.
“Businesses accredited under TruckSafe are required to meet five key standards, and are audited by independent, qualified auditors,” Crouch said. “TruckSafe includes additional safety requirements under its maintenance standard compared to the NHVAS, requires operators to meet all five mandatory standards, uses a more rigorous audit approach, and utilises an independent expert panel to approve applications, audits, and to review the TruckSafe standards.
“Despite these additional safety and best practice requirements, regulatory concessions are available to NHVAS accredited operators that are not available to TruckSafe accredited operators.
“The concessions include inspection exemptions in some states for vehicles accredited under the NHVAS maintenance module. This module is substantially the same as the TruckSafe maintenance standards, but without TruckSafe’s additional requirements for roadworthiness assessments and checks on truck speed limiters.”
According to Crouch, the competitive advantages available to the NHVAS were in breach of the 2016 Intergovernmental Agreement on Competition and Productivity-Enhancing Reforms.
“Governments have declared that competitive neutrality is important to the long-term interests of the community, to improving access, quality and diversity in services to the community and ensuring the efficient investment of resources,” he said. “The ATA completely agrees – and it is time for governments to apply these principles to the NHVAS.
“We need to improve heavy vehicle accreditation by encouraging diversity, innovation and competition, by levelling the playing field between the NHVAS and TruckSafe.”