About NRMA Policy Team

The Government Relations and Public Policy Team carries out most of NRMA’s advocacy work to improve issues affecting motorists, such as safer roads, safer drivers, safer vehicles, transport economics and sustainable transport. The team also supports the NRMA Board in lobbying governments and organisations on behalf of our Members.

Congestion costing businesses extra $5,000 a year: NRMA BusinessWise

GRIDLOCK:  A pricey message in a bottleneck on the congested roads of Sydney's West

GRIDLOCK: A pricey message in a bottleneck on the congested roads of Sydney’s West

Congestion in Western Sydney is getting worse and it’s increased the operating costs of 7 out of 10 businesses by as much as $5,000 in the last 12 months, according to the annual NRMA Motoring+Services BusinessWise congestion survey.

The BusinessWise survey of almost 730 fleet running businesses in Sydney’s greater western suburbs found three-quarters (77%) of businesses believed congestion had worsened in the last 12 months and 72% noticed an increase in congestion on weekends.

BusinessWise provides roadside assistance and fleet support to over 22,000 businesses across NSW and the ACT. BusinessWise also provides roadside assistance to heavy vehicle fleets.

Local businesses said that travel times for each vehicle had increased by a almost an hour (59 minutes) every day. The BusinessWise survey found that in the past 12 months, six out of ten (59%) businesses in greater western Sydney have seen an increase in fuel consumption as a result of congestion.

The survey also found that congestion had caused a:
- 37% have seen an increase in capital and running costs
- 31% have seen a slowdown in overall productivity
- 26% decrease in staff punctuality; and
- 24% reduced predictability of deliveries

In a positive sign for the Australian and NSW Governments, 70% of greater Western Sydney businesses support the WestConnex project. More businesses (45%) said they would use WestConnex and pay the toll than those that wouldn’t (35%).

The BusinessWise survey also found that three-quarters of business (74%) support the NSW Government’s clearways on major western Sydney roads like Victoria Rd and the overwhelming majority (97%) support the clearways roll out on major roads identified as having heavy weekend congestion.

NRMA President Wendy Machin said the BusinessWise survey showed local businesses were forced to allow more travel time for staff each day (75%) and almost half (46%) were forced to change staff shift times.

“The BusinessWise survey provides decision makers at all levels of Government with a gold mine of information on the impact congestion is having on the western Sydney economy – the second biggest in Australia – and the solutions needed to get Sydney moving again,” Ms Machin said.

“When the NRMA asked local businesses what solutions they would like to see introduced the majority (55%) want governments to fix traffic pinch points.

“We therefore urge The Australian and NSW governments to revisit the NRMA’s idea – introduced in the lead-up to the 2013 Federal Election – for a $150 million Congestion Busting Fund for local councils to fix traffic hot spots.”

The BusinessWise survey found that parking continues to be a major concern around Western Sydney’s key business hubs such as Parramatta, Penrith, Liverpool, Castle Hill, Campbelltown and Blacktown, with almost half (48%) struggling to find a park.

The BusinessWise survey results have added weight to recent calls for a major NSW Government department to relocate to western Sydney with two-thirds (61%) supporting the move.

NRMA Group CEO Tony Stuart said 84% of businesses believed such a move would lead to a greater focus on greater western Sydney’s infrastructure needs.

“The overwhelming majority of NRMA staff work from our North Strathfield office and our main patrol base is also located there, so when the NRMA talks about the transport infrastructure needs of greater western Sydney we do so from experience,” Mr Stuart said.

“BusinessWise Members think there is real merit in the Head Office of one of the major Government Departments – Treasury, Planning, transport or the Department of Premier and Cabinet – moving to western Sydney with the relevant Director General.

“When you travel to western Sydney every day you become acutely aware of what needs to be done to get the engine room of the state’s economy moving.”

Do you think congestion has worsened in the last 12 months? Do you think Western Sydney’s infrastructure would benefit from a government head office relocation?

New Course for Learner Drivers

Learner Driver

LEARN SMART: Just in case you missed the recent news on the new course for learners, which will give a reduction in logbook hours, here is the latest info.

We’ve had a huge response from Members since we posted on our site and Facebook page that from the 1 July 2013 learners will be able to complete a Safer Drivers Course and get a reduction in logbook hours.

Just in case you missed it, here is the latest information.

What does the Course involve?

The Safer Drivers Course is a combined theoretical and practical course. It will involve a facilitated group session discussing how to manage risks on the road and tailored in-car coaching addressing individual learning needs.

All up the course will take about five hours. The group session will run for two to three hours and the in-car coaching will be one to two hours.

The NRMA provided advice to the NSW Government Advisory Panel that developed the Course.

Do I still need to do 120 logbook hours?

Once you have done the Course your logbook hours reduce by 20 hours.

If you do the Course and do 10 hours of professional driving lessons your logbook hours go down to 80.

How much will it cost?

At this stage, we don’t know exactly how much it will cost to do the Course but the NSW Government has said the price will be affordable.

When will it be available?

The first group of learner drivers will do the course in July 2013. The Course will then be rolled out in NSW based on demand and provider availability.

What else has changed?

From 1 July 2013, learner drivers will be allowed to drive up to 90km/h instead of 80km/h. This will make sure that learners are supervised the first time they drive at 90km/h.

What do you think? Do you agree with these changes?

How long could Australia thrive if our oil supplies were cut?

Australia's Liquid Fuel Security

FUEL FOR THOUGHT: we are heavily dependent on imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil to meet our liquid fuel demand but Australia continues to adopt a “she’ll be right” approach to fuel security.

Australia is the world’s ninth-largest energy producer and there are many renewable and non-renewable energy resources in our country. Despite this, we are heavily dependent on imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil to meet our liquid fuel demand.

With such a spread-out population, Australia relies heavily on road transportation to move goods and services around. Our transport system is more than 95 per cent dependent on oil.

Did you know that if the oil stopped coming, goods and services could dry up in just over a week?

According to research carried out for our report, If Australia’s oil supply was cut:

  • dry goods could run out within nine days;
  • chilled and frozen goods could run out within seven days;
  • retail pharmacy supplies could run out within seven days;
  • hospital pharmacy supplies could run out within three days; and
  • fuel available to the public could run out within three days.

Australia needs to develop an alternative fuels industry – and only then, could we ween ourselves off our world oil dependency.

It doesn’t help that Sydney will have no refining capacity after 2014. The Clyde refinery closed last year and Kurnell will follow soon. If our supplies are cut off due to disruption to our shipping lanes, we would find ourselves in a crisis situation very quickly.

Australia continues to adopt a “she’ll be right” approach to fuel security, relying on global oil and fuel markets.

These markets have proven to be volatile with fluctuations of up to 60 cents per litre for unleaded fuel prices at the pump seen in the space of just six months. The reason for dramatic fluctuations can include conflict in the Middle East and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

This report is another wake-up call for governments to get serious about developing an alternative fuels industry.

Are you concerned about Australia’s oil dependency? Would you like the Government to do more to develop our alternative fuel industry?

The NRMA’s Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security report can be downloaded at: http://www.mynrma.com.au/about/reports-and-submissions.htm.

Seeing Red on Rail

Have you had a train experience which made you see red? What improvements would you like to see on our rail network?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you had a train experience which made you see red? What improvements would you like to see on our rail network?

A couple of weeks ago staff at NRMA’s Wynyard office were astounded by the scenes outside the office. A sea of people spilling onto York St, police marshalling the crowds, total chaos. Was it a natural disaster, a security threat?

No. Overhead power lines entangled with a branch at Waverton train station had disrupted services on the North Shore Line. The butterfly effect of this minor fault rippled through the network, affecting an estimated 50,000 people who travel between Central and Chatswood on a Monday morning.

Two weeks later, NRMA staff in North Strathfield got an early Valentine’s Day present while traveling home, when smoke emerged from the air conditioner at RailCorp’s Strathfield signal box, forcing the evacuation of the entire station and having knock-on effects throughout the CityRail network. With frustrated commuters piling on to buses and phoning a friend for a lift out of there, Strathfield’s peak hour congestion became even worse.

From our research, the frustrations that our staff are feeling are shared by our Members. Nearly half of NRMA’s 2.5 million Members use public transport regularly, many catching a train to and from work every day.

From our Member survey in July 2012, 70 per cent of Members want better public transport to give them an alternative to the car.

We are now asking commuters to have their say on Sydney’s rail network by participating in NRMA’s first ever Seeing Red on Rail survey.

NRMA wants YOU to vote now now on the biggest issues on the rail network, whether it’s late trains, rubbish on seats or personal safety concerns. Better public transport options will encourage more people to use rail services, helping reduce road congestion and our impact on the environment.

Have you had a train experience which made you see red? What improvements would you like to see on our rail network? Have your say now, VOTE now.

By completing the short survey you will also go into the draw to WIN one of three iPad minis or one of five $100 NRMA Online Shop vouchers.*

*Terms and conditions apply. NSW Permit No. LTPM/12/00479 and ACT TP 12/02327. Apple is not a participant in or sponsor of this promotion.

3 Point Plan to Tackle Bad Drivers

TOUGH LOVE: repeat drink and drug offenders by will be made to resit their full driver’s licence test.

This time of year we are bombarded with a whole range of Christmas-related messages. The most sombre are the brutal and heartfelt road safety campaigns that seem to appear in ad breaks, newspapers and billboards across the state.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, the Government and organisations like NRMA Motoring and Services, the road toll in 2012 is predicted to increase and there are still hundreds of bad drivers out there taking unnecessary risks.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a major risk that people take over the Christmas break. Did you know that even if you are under the legal limit, alcohol still effects your judgement and reaction times? Some people just don’t get it with 17 per cent of drink drivers re-offending. We think it’s time dangerous behaviour copped the punishment it deserves.

This is why we are calling on the NSW Government to deal with bad drivers in three ways:

1)      We need to get tough with repeat drink and drug offenders by making them resit their full driver’s licence test.

NRMA advocates that drivers found guilty of drink driving and drug driving more than once in the last 10 years must resit their driver’s licence which includes:

  • an eyesight test;
  • a driver knowledge test; and
  • a driving test.

NRMA is also lobbying for mandatory alcohol interlocks to be installed for 12 months in the vehicles of drivers caught drink driving more than once in the last 10 years.

Campaign update: Drink drivers in ACT will soon have alcohol interlocks fitted to their vehicles, as the government is expected to introduce new laws to crack down on repeat and high-range offenders on Thursday. NRMA Motoring and Services welcomes the ACT move for compulsory interlocks for offenders with three or more convictions and those who record a high blood alcohol content of 0.15 or greater.

The device works in cars, trucks, buses and on motorbikes. The drink driver offender will pay around $1000 for the installation and maintenance of the device. The interlocks will also be voluntary for others convicted of a drink driving offence.

Full article in The Canberra Times .

2)      Educate bad drivers by giving low level speeding offenders the choice of attending a driver education course instead of demerit points and a fine. Drivers who accumulate more than their allocated demerit points twice in five years must resit the learner knowledge test and attend a driver education course.

3)      Catch bad drivers by putting more highly visible police on our roads.

What do you think, too tough or not tough enough? What do you think would reduce the road toll and make safer drivers?