My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and the action I am seeking is for the minister to acknowledge and respond to the letter I sent him on 15 October 2020 on behalf of trucking industry stakeholders and to commit to meeting with them to discuss their concerns around the performance-based standards scheme. The PBS scheme offers the heavy vehicle industry the potential to achieve higher productivity and safety through innovation and optimised vehicle design. The PBS vehicles are designed to perform their tasks as productively, safely and sustainably as possible and to operate on networks that are appropriate for their level of performance. The basic principle of PBS is matching the right vehicles to the right task.
Currently an application fee is charged for each bridge along the requested route on which the PBS vehicle will be travelling. As well as this bridge assessment fee, a fee must be paid, and the fee can range from $1200 to in excess of $55 000. Victoria is the only state in Australia that charges such a fee. The Department of Transport currently treats every PBS vehicle as a new vehicle, despite the fact that a new vehicle might be identical in every aspect to a vehicle that has already been assessed. Even a new vehicle that has only very minor differences to a previously approved vehicle should not need to be treated as new.
Whilst the nature of PBS is that vehicles are bespoke, the fact that virtually identical vehicles are not treated as being the same, meaning the application goes through this costly and lengthy bridge assessment, is nonsensical. Similarly, the cost situation and the length of time these assessments take are concerning. The bridge assessments are generally desktop-based rather than physical inspections. As such, I do not see the reason for the length of time being taken to conduct the assessments. An improvement in the processing time and bridge assessment costs and an overall acceptance of these newer, smarter and safer vehicles will not only aid in a reduction of congestion around Melbourne but also enable the ‘move more for less’ slogan that has been VicRoads’ motto to be correct. The flow-on will be more local manufacturing of these innovative vehicles, and with that comes more employment. The efficiencies these vehicles provide in moving product to market for farmers, be it dairy, be it beef, are enormous.
Minister, I ask that you respond to the letter from the industry stakeholders. They are hurting and they need your assistance urgently, and these vehicles are an improvement. They are better for our roads, they are safer and they cart product more effectively. So at a time post pandemic, more than ever before let us get efficiency and productivity on the front foot for Victoria. That would be a change for the Labor government to think like that.