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More NZTA action coming, lawyer warns

More NZTA action coming, lawyer warns

NZ Truck & Driver News

 May 2019   
The trucking industry can expect more enforcement action from the New Zealand Transport Agency "in the coming months and years," a lawyer specialising in regulatory compliance and performance warns.

Nathan Speir says that "comments from NZTA's lawyer including '…we are going to build to make sure we really demonstrate to the NZ public that they can be confident we have this under control,' say it all."

Speir, providing a an opinion piece on NZ Truck & Driver's Road Torque news website, adds: "In some ways NZTA need to be seen taking active steps, in order to shrug a reputation for having 'no teeth.'

"There are currently 663 open cases," he says, "and that number could double. We don't raise these numbers to scare readers, but rather as a reminder that it is important that transport operators and drivers be vigilant." 

Speir, of the law firm Rice Speir, recaps that the current NZTA compliance shakeup was triggered by concerns raised last September about the agency's regulatory performance.

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The trucking industry can expect more enforcement action from the New Zealand Transport Agency "in the coming months and years," a lawyer specialising in regulatory compliance and performance warns.
Nathan Speir says that "comments from NZTA's lawyer including '…we are going to build to make sure we really demonstrate to the NZ public that they can be confident we have this under control,' say it all."
Speir, providing a an opinion piece on NZ Truck & Driver's Road Torque news website, adds: "In some ways NZTA need to be seen taking active steps, in order to shrug a reputation for having 'no teeth.'
"There are currently 663 open cases," he says, "and that number could double. We don't raise these numbers to scare readers, but rather as a reminder that it is important that transport operators and drivers be vigilant." 
Speir, of the law firm Rice Speir, recaps that the current NZTA compliance shakeup was triggered by concerns raised last September about the agency's regulatory performance.
"The main concern was the backlog of compliance cases, covering vehicle certification, training, licensing, transport operators and drivers. Prior to this, NZTA's focus was supposedly on education rather than enforcement."
As Speir recounts: "The Minister of Transport started a review of NZTA, led by an external consultant – the focus including whether the Ministry should have identified performance issues earlier and whether it was adequately resourced." 
Speir suggests that "it seems inevitable, from Ministry of Transport and NZTA comments so far, that the answer will be no. 
"In October 2018 NZTA announced an extensive review of its open compliance files and that it was 'getting tough' on enforcement. It said that the public could expect an increased number of enforcement actions to be taken."
Law firm Meredith Connell was engaged – "at a cost of more than $5million in taxpayer dollars…..to clear a backlog of more than 850 compliance cases that had built up under a model that prioritised education over enforcement." 
Speir says that as at April 2, 309 compliance actions were under way, the bulk of them relating to transport services – including 102 notices of proposal to revoke or suspend licences.
In his contribution to Road Torque he details that the Agency – in its compliance actions involving transport services – had also issued 70 warnings, 25 immediate suspensions and 18 revocations at that time.
It was also processing 34 notices of proposal to revoke/suspend licences of service providers (people or organisations responsible for certifying vehicles), along with 14 warnings, 30 immediate suspensions and six revocations.
Compliance actions involving course providers included three notices of proposal to revoke/suspend licences, four warnings, two immediate suspensions and one revocation.
In late March, the NZTA's regulatory compliance lead Steve Haszard said it had investigated 1497 possible non-compliance cases in five months and taken 291 enforcement actions.
Haszard said that NZTA had made "significant progress in rebuilding our regulatory compliance function…"
The Agency, he added, continued "to work hard to remove transport operators and services who pose a threat to land transport safety."  


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