Fast-track regulator with plenty of resources, ALTA says

ALTA wants national truck regulator introduced a year earlier and given enough cash to do the job

By Brad Gardner | May 19, 2011

The Australian Livestock Transporters Association wants a national truck regulator fast-tracked and given enough resources to enforce key measures such as chain of responsibility laws.

ALTA President David Smith has written an open letter to federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese ahead of his meeting with state and territory transport ministers this Friday.

The ministers, meeting as part of the Australian Transport Council (ATC), will vote on adopting an intergovernmental agreement on national regulations.

"We urge the Australian Transport Council to fulfil COAG’s request to bring forward the establishment of the national heavy vehicle regulator to July 2012," Smith writes.

The regulator is due to start in 2013 and will oversee national compliance and enforcement laws, access conditions and vehicle registration in the trucking industry.

Smith says it is vital the regulator is given enough resources and ongoing funding to meet the industry’s needs. He says it must be able to directly deal with the causes of safety issues through the use of chain of responsibility.

"To ensure a consistent, effective focus on safety, the regulator must also be empowered to oversight the work of all enforcement agencies," Smith writes.

With trucking operators constantly butting heads with government over road access conditions, Smith says the regulator must be equipped to help road managers reach informed decisions and to make sure bureaucrats are accountable to the public and their political masters.

A project office based in Brisbane is currently developing the structure of the regulator, which will be based in Queensland.

Smith's letter coincides with a request from the Australian Logistics Council requesting all transport ministers to agree to the intergovernmental agreement at the ATC meeting.

Labelling the meeting "a critical step towards a single national regulator", ALC CEO Michael Kilgariff says the regulator will deliver significant benefits by abolishing cross-border inconsistencies.

However, he says the regulator must have full responsibility for the national laws and be backed up with broad powers and adequate funding.

Kilgariff wants a commitment that laws passed in the host jurisdiction of Queensland will be applied by other states and territories.

"That is the only way a national law can work efficiently and effectively," he says.

"ALC is very concerned that the national regulator will not been deemed a success if a new layer of regulation is created, rather than national laws with a national approach to compliance and enforcement."

A 10-week consultation period on the proposed national regulations recently ended. An expert panel recommended a host of changes, including altering fatigue management and compliance and enforcement schemes.

The industry’s peak lobby group, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), has raised concerns over the proposals and wants ministers to order the National Transport Commission to go back to the drawing board.

The ATC meeting is also due to vote on a proposal to adopt uniform time counting rules for fatigue management.

NSW and Queensland currently operate under the same model, while Victoria and South Australia use a different system.

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