Abolishing state powers 'matter of national importance'

ATA blasts 'failed' state regulations in submission to Productivity Commission

By Brad Gardner

The nation’s peak trucking body has taken a swipe at state governments, calling for the Productivity Commission to recommend they be stripped of their powers.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has used its submission to the Review of Regulatory Burdens on Business to launch a scathing critique of jurisdictional protectionism, inconsistent regulations and bureaucratic red tape.

Referring to "blurred, duplicative or inconsistent" regulations, the ATA claims the states have failed to the point it "makes referral of powers for road transport a matter of national importance".

It wants the Commission to urge the Federal Government to establish a national regulatory body consistent with the findings of a recent impact statement into heavy vehicle regulation.

In its submission, the ATA laments the failures of state governments to enforce consistent cross-border laws, saying "a cooperative federalism model has demonstrably failed".

"The road transport industry is currently burdened by a complex, overlapping, inconsistent, multi-layered maze of regulations and quasi-regulations," the submission says.

In arguing its case, the ATA uses gross mass limits as an example, questioning why a six-axle semi-trailer in China is limited to 55 tonnes while Australia is 42.5 tonnes.

"Asset managers have adopted protectionist attitudes and rules that disadvantage this nation against others," the submission says.

The submission also attacks differences in fatigue management laws, vehicle exhaust rules and local government bylaws.

But while supporting a national regulatory framework for registration, licensing and driver competency, the ATA says reforms must go further.

It wants delineation of road transport and OH&S laws, industrial award instruments, determinations and environment laws that cover matters under the National Transport Commission Charter.

"We argue this because it is incongruous to require compliance with differing rules for the same matter," the submission says.

By defining the laws, the ATA says stakeholders will have a greater understanding of their obligations.

It uses an issue identified by representative body NatRoad to outline the legislative headaches afflicting the industry.

According to NatRoad, some drivers are forced to carry up to 30 individual permits when travelling interstate.

It says permits can range from as little as two pages long to 300 pages.

"To administer this process can be a nightmare, and if members miss a single page the fine can range from $180 to $1100 on each occasion," NatRoad is quoted as saying in the submission.

The ATA also used its submission to once again oppose fast-tracking digital tachographs without trialling them, arguing governments will be unable to justify it on a cost benefit basis.

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