Council control over truckies delayed

By Julian Bajkowski

A misbehaving software system has unexpectedly put the brakes on the launch of Australia’s first National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) by at least a month after the board of the so-called trucky’s watchdog revealed it still needs more time to get its technology together.

The NHVR system had been supposed to start processing new permit applications from the beginning of September 2013 but has now been provisionally put back until 1st October that NHVR chief executive Richard Hancock says is still “subject to more testing of the NHVR’s IT systems and processes.”

The software “issues” mean that state governments will now have to delay the 1st September start date for the new Heavy Vehicle National Law, after the regulator wrote to tell transport ministers across the nation of the date slip.

“Our rigorous testing of this IT system, which will process up to 100,000 permit applications per year, has identified some integration issues that we need to fix before it goes live. This isn’t unusual and just highlights the significant efforts we’re making to ensure the system goes live when it is ready,” Mr Hancock said.

“We will be the first organisation in Australia managing that volume of permit applications every year.”

The delay to the laws is certain to affect councils across Australia that have been gearing up for the changes for many months.

The purpose of the NVHR is to run a single rulebook for all heavy vehicles (more than 4.5 tonnes) in Australia that were previously regulated by different regimes across the states.

Aside from consistent rules and regulations to keep overenthusiastic truckies between the lines to prevent accidents and unsafe driving as well as improving vehicle safety, the new laws hand local government decision making powers over access to road networks.

Use of council maintained roads by heavy trucks is a longstanding sore-point with local government because of the high cost and dangers that result from damage to surfacing that many cannot afford.

The Australian Local Government Association has told its members that it will “work closely with the NHVR to develop and refine the processes and arrangements required to deliver these important access reforms.”

However it appears the race to get the new IT system up and running to meet the 1st September deadline could be part of the reliability issue itself.

“Our IT contract partners, selected through an extensive tender process overseen by independent experts, along with our NHVR team, have put in a huge amount of effort to get to where we are in a short amount of time,” Mr Hancock said.

“I’ve talked with national and state industry associations and the overwhelming message is one of support for the NHVR and that they want us to ensure that our IT systems and processes are working as they need to be.”

Australian government organisations are more than familiar with the trouble that badly behaving transactional systems can cause, ranging from the rough start of the Australian Customs Service’s integrated cargo management system to the still problematic Queensland Health payroll.

However the NHVR is sticking strongly by its suppliers, although it has so far declined to provide details of the system’s budget and costs citing commercial confidentiality requirements.

“Award‐winning international company HCL Technologies and Brisbane‐based Esri Australia topped a pool of 18 vendors to win the contract to build Australia’s first cross‐border, cross‐authority IT system for managing heavy vehicle access to the nation’s road network,” the regulator said in a statement to Government News.

“The NHVR is working with HCL’s Sydney‐based office to build an online access management system that will enable operators to:

  •  create a unique customer identity;


  • choose the correct form for their access application;


  • lodge their application via the NHVR website;


  • pay for their application upfront;


  • directly receive the access permit, when issued;
  • seek a review of an access decision

The regulator has also expressed confidence in its supplier on the geospatial side of afairs, esri Australia, describing the supplier as the “the industry leader for Australia’s $2.1 billion geographic information system (GIS) technology sector.”

Esri has been contracted to supply the NHVR with the GIS application and data that is the foundation for the regulators ‘online Journey Planner’.

“The Journey Planner operates interactively through a map service (much like Google maps) and will be incorporated into the overall access management system. It will allow operators to plan a journey specifying origin, waypoints and destination. Operators can compare and alter their journey to suit available routes and to identify where permits may be required,” the NHVR said in a statement.

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