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Howdy all,
We will kick things off for this month with a chat about the NCOP (National Code of Practice) for vehicles and what is happening right now in relation to that. As you probably know the NCOP was adopted here in Qld at the beginning of last November, after a six month ‘phase in’ period. Interestingly, the NCOP is ‘The National Code Of Practice’ and as the title suggests is the governing document for light, medium and heavy vehicle modification and compliance for Australia, yet every state and territory has adopted it only to a level they have chosen-meaning some have fully taken it on as the legislation for that state cut and dried, others have taken it on just as a basic suggestion and are sticking with their own state based code, and the rest are somewhere in between. In some cases its just politics-a particular state or territory may not want to take it on because it originated from NSW or something equally as silly, but anyhow, point is it does not help the situation when modified vehicles ( cars, 4 WD’s whatever) travel interstate, or are sold interstate. Its quite easy technically for cars and 4wds to comply and be mod plated in one state, but be illegal in another, and this does happen believe it or not. It makes no sense, and the whole idea of modification laws is to prevent and remove unsafe vehicles from the road for public safety, and rightly so, but you can’t tell me that a vehicle is a risk to public safety in one state, but quite safe in another. This is another area that needs to ironed out, and Miles Brennan from 4WD Qld who also owns the NCOP forum (www.ncop.org.au) is working hard on it, with support from the ACMC. Now, here in Qld we have ‘mostly’ adopted the NCOP as our code of practice for modifying vehicles-I say mostly as there are a couple of clauses that hark back to the QCOP, which was our state code. In some cases its not necessarily bad as the NCOP has guidelines on meeting and testing emissions relating to ADR’s (Australian Design Rules) but refers to the QCOP which then tells us that we don’t conduct emissions testing here as we do not have the equipment whereby it can be made affordable and practical. I’m sure we have equipment that can do the test but not enough to be fair and logical-eg, you can’t expect someone to take their car from Rockhampton to Brisbane to be tested on a weekday at their expense because a cop ‘suspects’ their emissions may not stack up. And there are other sections and chapters in the NCOP where we as vehicle enthusiasts are better off than with the old QCOP. Its not all bad-some of it is but some is ok, the problem is it is quite poorly written and constructed, it trips over itself repeatedly and in some cases goes around in circles (unlike the reports I write!) making it difficult for someone trying to establish whether their proposed mods are illegal and can be certified. This is one of the main issues that the ACMC are working towards. We want it to be easier to read, clearer and we want to eliminate the stuff that makes no sense. If you go to the ncop.org.au website theres a whole bunch of forums dedicated to discussing and improving the NCOP.

Funnily enough, there is a national single issue working group about to take place with high level reps from all states just to review chapters of the NCOP. Is this coincidence? Or is it because transport and government departments across the country have been surprised at how much flak they have copped over the NCOP, at how many phone calls their people are receiving all the time about modifications and trying to make sense of the NCOP? Is it because here, and in NSW, the ACMC have opened doors and sat down at tables with the relevant authorities who now realise that motoring enthusiasts are not to be taken lightly and treated like criminals and used for political point scoring statistics that have no connection to the truth or reality. Put simply, all we need to do is get the NCOP cleaned up and made user friendly, add to that system the provision to be able to modify beyond what the NCOP states, provided an approved engineer is willing to certify and sign off on the work as being of acceptable standard, and that the mods do not pose increased risk to road users from the safety standpoint. Simple really.

Stay safe on the roads, have fun at the track,
Darryl Elliot