NSW minister for roads, maritime and freight Melinda Pavey has thrown her support behind proposed interstate changes to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Chain of Responsibility (CoR).
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) have submitted joint notices of intention to the regulator to develop an industry-wide ‘Master Code’ that is hoped to enhance heavy-vehicle safety.
Introduced at the 2017 ALC Compliance Summit in Sydney, the new code of conduct is hoped to extend the legal obligations for safe road transit of executive officers and company directors right across the supply chain.
Speaking at the summit on Tuesday, Pavey described the number of deaths on state roads annually as “unacceptable,” insisting that zero should be the only acceptable target.
“I strongly support the introduction of a fair regime for the Chain of Responsibility as I believe it delivers on road safety,” Pavey said. “We have advocated a common start date of 1 July 2018 for various Chain of Responsibility reforms for various industry and regulator education.
“We know there is a lot to do and one of the things is the issue of improving and enhancing the quality of heavy vehicles, encouraging that investment.
“One of the ways that we need to do that is to have good conversations with local councils around Sydney and explain to them that a higher-capacity heavy vehicle can also be a safer heavy vehicle.”
Freight is a $60 billion industry in Australia and employs close to 500,000 people, directly or indirectly.
Industry forecasts anticipate freight volumes will almost double to 794 million tonnes by 2031 and is said to be one of the major factors when considering safety.
A Master Code will effectively hold all parties of the supply chain accountable for breaches of road transport, mass dimension loading, speed compliance and work-hour laws.
“Freight is important to the state and I am constantly reminding people that I am not only the roads minister but also minister for roads, maritime and freight, and they are all of equal importance,” Pavey continued.
“I am honoured to be minister at a time when our government in New South Wales is investing in historic levels of freight infrastructure to ensure the transit and transfer of goods on our network is smooth and, above all, safe.
“And that is not without its challenges, at this time. We have seen an increase in heavy-vehicle incidents and fatalities over recent months and it is important that we look at those statistics.”
The minister said that road users are five times more likely to die in a crash in regional New South Wales than in metropolitan areas, with 10 fatalities for every 100,000 people.
In the city, an average of two people for every 100,000 people die on the roads. The divide, Pavey says, is similar to statistics recorded in the US.
“I am often told that this is not an achievable task and will never happen but we must work towards zero,” the minister said. “The New South Wales road toll isn’t only a number – it is people and is closer to home than you may think.
“It is a number that is unacceptable however small it is until that number gets to zero. How many fatalities would you, as operators, be willing to accept in your company each year?
“Under the chain or responsibility, complying with transport law is a shared responsibility where all parties in the road transport supply chain are responsible for preventing breaches.
“We should be working together to push the number of deaths on New South Wales roads towards zero and I will, however, recognise the work of industry to achieve this.”