Is It Time For an Operator Licence in the Transport Industry of Australia?

The Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) of the UK, James Hookham, shared some time with players in the Logistics industry of Australia. Hookham was in the country as a special guest at the Australian Logistics Council Supply Chain Safety and Compliance Summit, where he gave a presentation.

The UK’s FTA is the representative body that was set up to oversee the welfare of more than 14,500 businesses with freight interests. It collaborates with the Australian Logistics Council to exchange information, new ideas, and best practice systems with the ever changing business world in the face of new technologies.

Over 250 people were present at the summit and these learnt about the details of the operator licencing scheme in the United Kingdom, and more importantly, its potential place in the logistics industry of Australia.

The summit, which is held once every year, is the ALC’s largest event focusing on safety and compliance. It aims at spreading industry knowledge about the chain of responsibility obligations.

Having learnt from the FTA, the ALC believes introducing an operating licence or a method of accreditation will bring a uniform blanket of competence in the industry. It will ensure that all players in the industry adhere to standards as they deliver their services.

The introduction of the licence was among the most notable recommendations that the ALC has made in its election priorities submission to lawmakers, ahead of the 45th Parliament.

The ALC has made the recommendation a few times this year on several occasions. One such event was the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal debate. In their submission, the council named the accreditation system as one way of enhancing safety in the heavy transport industry.

The UK was not first to introduce such licensing systems, neither will Australia be the second. A lot of such licensing schemes are running in different countries. These can serve as good case studies to see how Australia can best come up with their own.

The idea is a fully rooted scheme that has been around for more than a few years. With it, it is easier to keep high industry standards of service and safety by making sure that only competent operators, or at least those that have employed competent people, can hold the licence.

The regulator will need licence holder to display compliance with safety, technical, and financial regulations before they can be approved.

The scheme would entail introducing an operating standard at national level that will demand that operators of large heavy trucks have both the financial and capabilities and the safety management systems to run such a business.

The move by ALC is inspired by concerns about the capabilities of certain heavy vehicle operators to run such an establishment in a proper business-like manner. Further, the council has noted that a number of operators do not have enough financial muscle to maintain their vehicles in a road-fit condition.

All these inadequacies are not minor and are actually dangerous to all road users. This is a point the ALC intends to emphasise to the National Transport Commission the National Heavy vehicle Regulator.

Another of the ALC’s strong beliefs is the mandatory heavy trucks telematics. The council intends to push for the addition of this and the mandatory licensing scheme to the NTC’s Land Transports 2040 project.

The ALC is worried that the two concerns raised will go without any serious analysis by the authorities and will remain a cold unaddressed indefinitely.

The industry is serious about working hand in hand with the government to develop such safety methods like the Operator Licensing that have served other countries effectively, as demonstrated by Hookham during his talk at the ALC’s summit

The ALC has echoed its decision to continue pushing for such schemes that aim it make both the heavy vehicles and the roads they operate in safe for the good of every Australian.