NTC backs WA on national regs

National Transport Commission supports Western Australia's stance on national regulations, saying "one size does not fit all"

By Brad Gardner | July 22, 2010

The National Transport Commission has backed Western Australia’s stance on national regulations, saying a blanket model will not work when it comes to reforming cross-border differences.

The Transport Forum WA recently vowed to oppose any attempt by governments to alter the state’s fatigue management scheme to align it with other jurisdictions.

During a recent meeting with the Forum and the Northern Territory Road Transport Association, NTC Chairman Greg Martin told the groups there would be "no disadvantage to any jurisdiction" and "one size does not fit all".

The Forum has also announced it will work with the Road Transport Association to argue for specific recognition under national regulations, which are due to be introduced in 2013.

Under the scheme, Queensland will host a heavy vehicle regulator which will be responsible for streamlining transport regulations. Laws will be made by Queensland’s parliament and other jurisdictions will then introduce the same legislation to ensure national uniformity.

Forum Chairman Derek Nathan says there are a number of concerns West Australian and Northern Territory operators have over the move toward a new system.

"Fatigue management is one of the major concerns we have," he says.

Nathan is also concerned about any changes to concessional loading in Western Australia, which allows operators to carry more freight than eastern states.

Earlier this month Forum CEO Ian King told ATN he would make it "loud and clear" that the Western Australian fatigue management scheme should be retained.

"We don’t want to be held up with a regulator that says one size fits all," King says.

He says the existing regime on driving hours accounts for the sparsely populated regions drivers must travel through, adding that towns can be as much as 600km apart unlike those in eastern states.

Unlike other states that restrict work time to 144 hours in any 14 day period, Western Australia permits 168 hours in any 14 day period.

Drivers can work for 17 hours in one day. NSW and Queensland allow drivers to work for 16 hours under the advanced fatigue management module, but only in extenuating circumstances.

Western Australian drivers can also work up to 24 days before a day off, the Department of Transport says.

"When they come into WA they then [should] operate under WA [rules]," King says of interstate operators.

The Northern Territory plans to introduce fatigue management laws once the regulator begins in 2013.

Territory-based trucking operators are currently bound by the Transport Fatigue Management Code.

It outlines guiding principles on how operators can manage fatigue, such as mandating rest periods, monitoring driver fitness and keeping records.

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