Productivity Commission backs national regs

Productivity Commission urges overhaul of trucking regulations, but warns governments to keep it simple and efficient

By Brad Gardner | September 21, 2009

The Productivity Commission has thrown its support behind uniform trucking laws but says an overhaul must not leave the industry worse off.

The Commission’s final Annual Review of Regulatory Burdens report has backed proposals from industry groups for an end to cross-border inconsistencies to improve productivity and slash red tape.

In lending support for uniform laws, the report says "care should be taken to ensure that a national framework does not impose additional regulatory burdens".

"All jurisdictions need to be vigilant in pursuing the goal of a truly national system right down to the impact at the operator level," the report says.

"The inconsistent state and territory government regulation surrounding the operation of road and rail freight imposes a considerable regulatory burden on business," the report says.

However, the Productivity Commission argues the need for flexibility in certain circumstances based on concerns from the Northern Territory Government that uniform laws would reflect heavily populated areas.

To address this, the Commission wants any variations based on circumstance rather than jurisdiction.

"…if transport regulation needs to be different in remote areas, regulation should reflect this in a way that ensures remote areas in all jurisdictions are treated in the same way," the Commission says.

"The problem with each jurisdiction making their own variations is that there is then a plethora of rules for each circumstance."

The report also criticises the ‘model law’ approach whereby a single document is drafted which jurisdictions agree to base their laws around.

According to the report, the approach has failed to reduce the industry’s administrative burden. Fatigue management laws, for example, are based on the ‘model law’ approach.

"In particular, the flexibility provided to jurisdictions through the use of model legislation has only maintained regulatory inconsistency," the report says.

The Australian Transport Council earlier this year agreed to implement national trucking laws by 2013.

The plan was sent to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to gain the backing of the nation’s leaders.

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