Some drivers had even been stranded in the outback for several days in 40 degree heat waiting for permits.
In 2014 the National Heavy Vehicle Law and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator were introduced to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for heavy vehicle operators.
However, without the legislative teeth to compel private and public road owners to issue oversize and over mass permits in reasonable time frames it has resulted in 4.5 million days of operators waiting.
The review was ordered by federal Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack in June and was undertaken by consultants WSP with the help of transport companies like Linfox and Toll.
It found some heavy vehicles had been required to wait for several months for permits and escort assessments.
It said Australia’s economy was at risk, particularly if big sectors like mining and agriculture continued to be impacted.
“Failure to achieve the efficiencies could harm the national economy significantly,” the report said.
“OSOM load requirements are driven by the key mining and agriculture industries where investment and employment are dependent on economically feasible projects.
“Improved OSOM processes can help ensure the viability of these projects.”
Since the introduction of the National Heavy Vehicle Law local governments played a bigger role in assessing permit applications.
The report highlighted the lack of capacity, funding and knowledge of Australia’s 547 local governments to issue oversize over mass permits in a timely fashion.
It recommended several changes to the heavy vehicle law and regulator such as higher fees for permits to guarantee turnaround times and harmonising national standards for pilot and escort vehicle requirements.
It also advocated for more preapprovals and project specific permits.
That would allow a big project like a wind farm to apply for one permit to cover every transport movement of seperate turbine fans.
Another recommendation was to create state-based teams for the regulator who would work alongside state road managers.
The Western Roads Federation led the national campaign to get the review happening.
Federation chief executive Cam Dumesny said it was a comprehensive report that grasped the major issues the sector was facing.
He said with a huge nationwide infrastructure boom predicted over the next decade it was important transport operators had the ability to move the equipment without cumbersome delays.
“We have major infrastructure projects, both civil and mining, private and public, going forward and we need to be able to move equipment for those projects,” he said.
“When you’re building bridge beams in Northern Tasmania it is fantastic for employment, but if it takes five months to get them to Sydney that’s a debacle.
“If the transport is inefficient, the projects will be inefficient.”
Mr McCormack was approached for comment.
Hamish Hastie is a Fairfax Media business reporter writing from the WAtoday offices in Perth. He was raised in Armadale in Perth’s south east and covered the area for four years at the Examiner Newspaper before a stretch writing for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA’s business magazines.
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