The new government’s push for change continues at pace and there has been a lot of discussion about the Fast Track Approvals Bill. The bill is intended to ultimately deliver cheaper and quicker approvals (consents and permits) than those currently delivered under the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991.

This is important to us because road development needs consenting under the RMA.

Most concerns raised with us have come from people and organisations that aren’t our members. They oppose the bill and want our view on the risks this change presents to the environment.

I don’t know what the final outcome will be but the Supplementary Analysis report on the bill prepared by the Ministry for the Environment comments: “The RMA is widely recognised as having failed in its effectiveness (by allowing continued environmental deterioration) and in its efficiency (through a slow, costly and complex consenting process), leading to inefficient barriers to development as well as poor environmental outcomes.”

The report also points out some risks with change but, for me, the key point is that the current system isn’t working and that in itself is a good enough reason to make a change.

We’ve been through years of systems not working or not delivering the intended outcomes so it’s good to see something being done about that.

Many members have also been concerned about the confusion over exactly what’s happening with Waka Kotahi’s proposal to invoice for underpaid RUC using the high-speed weigh-in-motion (HSWIM) systems being installed. I’m pleased our requests for clarification have been answered.

Waka Kotahi does not intend to issue infringement fines initially. Rather, it will issue invoices when it calculates that unpaid RUC is owed. The invoices are able to be challenged by operators.

By May 2024, Waka Kotahi expects to consult industry representatives on the application of this model and operational policy. That will be followed by an operational trial in Q3 2024 with actual go-live to be some time in Q3-Q4 this year. So, keep watching this space.

While we’re on the subject of Waka Kotahi systems and processes, since our annual conference in Invercargill two years ago, there has been ongoing discussion regarding our members’ strong desire that roadside inspection data be shared promptly with the respective operators. In this day and age, you would think that wouldn’t be so difficult. However, the communication of that information has varied enormously, which has caused ongoing frustration.

Even with the best intentions, relying on drivers to report all the findings is fraught with issues. I sympathize with operators who have been frustrated by the delays at not getting that information. I am pleased to hear that Waka Kotahi and Police have a digital project underway, which is anticipated to be implemented around June, to reliably and promptly share roadside inspection data directly with operators. We are seeking confirmation of this.

Waka Kotahi is also looking into improving how it communicates disruption caused by scheduled road works. The agency has recently improved the data in its weekly freight register and is looking into how it can best communicate with the freight industry. Our advisors spend a significant part of their time compiling that information and forwarding it to members, but in my view that information should come in a user-friendly way directly from Waka Kotahi as the state highway manager.

We’ve also seen a number of forecasts on what will happen with head count at various  ministries. One of the risks that I’m already seeing play out is officials saying that due to budget cuts they won’t be able to deliver what industry needs and that’s a worry.

This week I am joining a broad group of transport representatives in a meeting with Transport Minister Simeon Brown. This format is a new approach and it will supplement one-on-one meetings. I think it has a lot of potential. My summary of the key issues on the agenda are road, revenue, and regulation so next week I shall report back.

All the info on possible constitutional changes

There are a number of proposed changes to Transporting New Zealand’s constitution. The why’s, the wherefores and the possible what-nexts are contained in these documents below.

Please note: The content of this Advisory has been issued to inform members of Transporting New Zealand. It is for road freight transport industry circulation, not for media publication. It can be forwarded in its entirety to members of Transporting New Zealand. It cannot be reproduced, or printed in parts, under any logo other than Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand’s logo, without written permission from Transporting New Zealand.