Nightmare jigsaw puzzle in which none of the pieces fit

Imagine if you ran a truck business like the senior bureaucrats are running the National Transport Commission. You would drive a truck around in a circle, not delivering anything. You would expect your customers to keep paying you, despite that lack of delivery.

This could go on for years until finally, there’s a review. And when that review gets stuck after three years, there’s a review of the review. 

All the while, the truck is still driving around in a circle, still not delivering. 

It’s ludicrous but it’s exactly what’s happening with the National Transport Commission’s rewriting of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) that’s taken three years. 

Now, Ken Kanofski has reviewed the process and has recommended…wait for it…another review. 

The NTC website says it leads national land transport reform in support of all Australian governments to improve safety, productivity, environmental outcomes and regulatory efficiency.  

It also says its ‘unique’ role is to: 

develop and propose nationally consistent land transport reforms

• review, maintain and amend national and model laws, and other instruments (e.g. codes and guidelines).

We hate to break it to the National Transport Commission but if this is its role, it’s failing. 

We wish we could say that the NTC was the only example of dysfunctional bureaucracy but it’s clearly not. 

There are many transport agencies, each doing their own thing and rarely in collaboration with each other. 

It’s like a nightmare jigsaw where none of the pieces fit to form the bigger picture. 

We wouldn’t mind so much if they were transparent about their work but as we’ve highlighted in our letter to the editor in this edition of Big Rigs (see page 8), there’s secrecy swirling around the transport agencies. 

In fact, one agency has even refused to reveal who is on the board of the Infrastructure Transport Senior Officials Committee (ITSOC), telling us ‘This membership list is not a public document.’

When you look at who is on the boards of the other transport agencies like Austroads, Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), etc, you’ll see some interesting similarities. 

So why should you care about this? Well, it’s your money paying for this feeding frenzy of transport agencies. 

It’s your money that pays for the staff who work at these agencies. The National Transport Commission says it employs around 40 staff. That’s millions of dollars on staff costs every year. 

It’s your money that pays for their travel bills as they jet around the country to meetings that should have been an email. 

This squandering of taxpayers’ money, this lack of accountability and this productivity failure matters. The senior bureaucrats in these agencies advise directors general of departments. They also advise ministers who are governing on our behalf.

In fact, if you were a minister in the new federal government, you’d be thinking ‘what on earth is going on here?!’

It’s a great question. Who exactly are these agencies serving? 

One thing is for sure, it’s not the Australian public. 

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