PBS: From boutique to mainstream

From the June 2013 issue.

Never before has the abbreviation PBS been more important to Australia’s commercial road transport industry than today.

In 2006, Australia’s leading road haulage businesses were looking for a freight forwarding solution that could achieve higher productivity and safety through innovative vehicle design. Hence the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the national Productivity Commission created a scheme that would urge both manufacturing industry and road agencies to cooperate in developing vehicles to outperform any traditional combination. Named Performance-Based Standards (PBS), the scheme went down in history as the most innovative, yet complex policy ever brought in.

Today, PBS still is a key element of COAG’s national reform agenda for transport, but much has changed since the scheme was introduced. Most importantly, though, the system is now officially administered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), a central institution based in Brisbane that has been welcomed by many a leading personality in the industry. 

Headed by CEO Richard Hancock, the NHVR is Australia’s first national independent regulation office for all vehicles over 4.5 tonnes GVM. But it’s not just the administration that has ben relocated; there is more change to come.

In March 2012, Australia’s transport ministers voted unanimously in favour of changes to the scheme, leading to one set of laws for heavy vehicles, labelled Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). Although it still has to be acknowledged by all states and territories Australia-wide, the HVNL is likely to pave the way for a national system of assessment and access. According to Les Bruzsa, head of the PRB Secretariat at the newly formed regulation body, that national system will also be administered in Queensland and come into effect later in 2013.

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