HVNL review fails to deliver productivity boost, says QTA


The long-winded review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) continues to constrict and constrain productivity growth, says the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA).

In a strongly worded missive to QTA members, a frustrated CEO Gary Mahon says the seven-year review so far is little more than an “administrative update”.

“I wish I could say that the future law is reflecting a substantial change in outlook by government in productivity enhancing policies and reforms,” Mahon said.

“Disappointingly, it reflects, if anything, an administrative update that continues to constrict and constrain productivity growth, not boost it.

“What we need from our political leaders is a strong and open priority for freight productivity growth, along with boosting industry competitiveness. Opening up access and cutting red-tape is the starting point.”

Mahon said the narrative of 20 odd years ago that “a country cannot re-distribute what its economy does not produce” is rarely featured, and particularly not in any dialogue about reforming the future of the road freight industry over the next two decades.

“For a country whose population relies on road freight as a critical service, and will for years to come, this poses major concerns.

“With an ever-increasing road freight task, we need to move that freight in the safest and most efficient way, and Australia has a comparative advantage in the market that is currently significantly underutilised.

“Improving the national road freight network to provide at least one all-weather corridor will make safer, more efficient connections, and will accelerate the investment in higher productivity vehicle combinations.”

Mahon also said that governments must make the “progressive” decision to invest in infrastructure and high productivity vehicles that will underpin the “turbocharging” of renewables manufacturing and adoption.

Road freight contributes significantly to Australia’s GDP at 8.6. per cent and is a major employer. Australia’s freight task is well in excess of 750 billion tonne kilometres and will grow another 26 per cent in the next five years.

“Here in Queensland, road freight carries in excess of 300kg for every man, woman and child every day,” Mahon said.

“These critical investments are an economic energiser, boost safety and efficiency and will bring much needed congestion relief for the State and the country.

“The lack of progress on pro-productivity policies of the last decade is constraining the industry and this has to change.

“It requires a step back from a defensive legislative posture. Policies need to reflect more contemporary legislation with forward looking productivity in mind. Policies need aspiring spirit and intent to set the tone for a stronger economic future. This is critical to acheive genuine reform. The time is now.”

According to the National Transport Commission website, an updated HVNL will be presented to federal, state and territory ministers later this year for their consideration.

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