Changing of the Guard: Austroads acquires Transport Certification Australia

One of the Australia’s top transport-planning bodies has reassigned the management of a world-leading institution to another governmental body. Australia’s governance and advisory public sector can somewhat resemble the task of building a working machine using different sized, and differently shaped, multi-coloured plastic toy bricks. (Photo: Shutterstock).

Although it’s early in 2019, there has already been a major restructure of Australia’s byzantine freight-related governmental advisory sector.

It was announced earlier this week that Austroads, which is effectively a trade association for the transport departments of the various Australian governments (along with the government of New Zealand), has been given Transport Certification Australia (TCA), the nation’s leading expert-agency in the use of transport related telematics and intelligent technologies.

Austroads carries out research, publishes guides and carries out business on behalf of the Australian road agencies. Austroads also manages a variety of task forces to extend the life of roads, bridges and tunnels; it carries out work on automated vehicles and connected systems; and it helps develop, improve and manage the road network to meet a growing freight task.

TCA is a governmental body that provides advice, accreditation and administrative services in relation to telematics and related intelligent technologies. TCA reports that the Australian transport and logistics industries have “embraced” these technologies, which include an intelligent access program, intelligent speed compliance and management, intelligent mass of vehicles, and the recently launched Hill Descent Monitoring application. That latter application monitors the speed of heavy freight vehicles on long or steep descents and can provide indicators of whether a driver has performed brake safety checks.

Such programmes are delivered within the Australian National Telematics Framework, which is a “digital business platform,” that helps governmental bodies and the private sector create common infrastructure including rules, data exchange and interfaces. It also supports different applications for regulatory, contractual and commercial needs.

A world-first

“The adoption of the National Telematics Framework for the delivery of offerings and applications both for public policy and private decision-making is a world first,” stated TCA.

The decision to have one body take over the other was made (apparently over the Christmas period given the timing of the early January announcement) by the Transport and Infrastructure Council, which consists of the planning and freight ministers from the Commonwealth of Australia (the Australian Federal government), the six Australian State governments and the two major Territory governments. Also on the Council is the Australian Local Government Association, which represents Australia’s 537 local councils. The councils together look after 662,000 kilometers (km) of road (411,348 miles), which is 74 percent of the total length of the 900,000 km of roads in Australia.

TCA’s incorporation into Austroads follows the news in November last year that Chris Koniditsiotis, TCA’s chief executive officer, is retiring on March 1. Shortly after that retirement announcement, TCA stated that Chairman Stephen Golding would stand down in December.

Neil Scales, chairman of Austroads and a director of Transport Certification Australia, commented that the acquisition would “enable a better use of resources and expertise from both businesses into the future.”

Austroads’ Chief Executive, Nick Koukoulas, said that the acquisition of TCA “will bring a number of synergies and efficiencies to both businesses and will help accelerate a number of projects underway.”

Significance downplayed

Koniditsiotis downplayed the significance of the acquisition. “It is important to emphasise that the decision made by Council for TCA to be owned by Austroads does not change TCA’s role and function. Nor does it change TCA’s accountability to manage an open technology market on behalf of Australia’s road transport agencies and regulators, to support a growing number of applications for light and heavy vehicles with different levels of assurance.”

He continued, stating, “There is significant work already underway by TCA with Australia’s road transport agencies and the transport and technology sectors to implement 16 initiatives contained in the approved business case including new applications of the National Telematics Framework, [such as] the Road Infrastructure Management application and ‘IAP Lite’ application; new features which can be used across applications of the National Telematics Framework (such as turn-by-turn navigation and real-time alerts); and enhancements to… improve efficiency and reduce costs.”

FreightWaves sought further details from Transport Certification Australia but, owing to the advent of the summer holiday period in Australia, no one was available for comment.

Show More

Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.