Rising penalties for minor issues are a major reason why road transport operators are leaving the industry in droves, said the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad).
NatRoad hit out after the Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures showing an annual decline in transport sector pre-tax profits of 0.7 per cent, and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) announced its penalties are rising across the board in line with inflation.
“Even minor fatigue mistakes will cost $177 from Friday-week [July 1],” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.
“Enough is enough. This is another straw breaking the camel’s back for many people and it doesn’t attract anyone to join the industry either.
“CPI increases to fines don’t make sense.
“They must be proportionate to the offence – and that’s certainly not the case with minor administrative issues.”
Clark said the ABS figures for transport sector profits were affected by the impact of Covid-19 on the airlines sector so had to be viewed with that in mind.
“My own members have reported working on a profit margin of about 2.5 per cent and costs have risen sharply since then,” he said.
NatRoad has advocated for introduction of a warning system for HVNL administrative offences.
“This has become urgent given the economic pressures operators are under and is based on tying prior wrongdoing to a range of penalties,” Clark said.
“On that basis, a first offence for an administrative breach would attract a warning, a second offence a fine and so on, with repeated transgressions resulting in mandatory training.
“Instead, this is a revenue raising exercise where penalties rise with inflation.”
NHVR access permit fees will increase by $2 and the cost of a National Driver Work Diary will also increase by $1 (from $25 to $26) from Friday, July 1.
Fees will also increase for National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme modules. These increases are in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), said the regulator.