National reforms must not forget state operators, ATA says

Industry groups back national reforms, but policy makers told to be aware of intrastate operators

Industry groups have backed an agreement for a single regulator to overhaul cross-border inconsistencies, but the trucking lobby says policy makers need to be mindful of intrastate operators.

Australia’s transport ministers last week agreed to a state hosted regulator responsible for harmonising trucking laws in a move the Australian Logistics Council says will increase efficiency and productivity.

While agreeing with the ALC, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman Trevor Martyn says there needs to be provisions for trucking companies working within state borders.

"There’s a perception that the whole trucking industry will benefit enormously from eliminating cross-border differences in the trucking regulations. This is true for interstate operators, but not for companies that work locally or on regional runs," Martyn says.

"The new regulations will also need to include scope for local, regional and state-based variations that will improve productivity, including provisions so local operators and associations can have input into those variations."

Under the ATC’s proposal, a regulator will be established in a chosen state by 2013. That state will implement laws and other jurisdictions will be responsible for following its lead.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will now make a decision on where the regulator will be based when it meets on December 7.

The ATC also proposed South Australia as the host jurisdiction for a national rail safety regulator and decided upon the Australian Maritime Safety Authority as the national regulator for maritime safety.

Under a national system, Martyn says there could be seamless chain of responsibility laws holding people accountable in one state for actions that happen in another state.

"There must also be arrangements in place to ensure that Australia’s road agencies and police forces enforce the national regulations as intended," Martyn says.

The ATA also wants the national regulator to support an increase in the use of super B-doubles and B-triples to improve productivity and cut the number of trucks on the road.

The ALC wrote to Australia’s transport ministers before the meeting urging them to push ahead with national reforms including a single safety regulator for rail.

Chief Executive Michael Kilgariff says the projected growth in the freight task and population increases means it is vital to improve transport and supply chain efficiency.

"Inconsistent regulation between jurisdictions and red tape only adds considerable and unnecessary costs to Australian consumers and exports," Kilgariff says.

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