COAG move welcomed, as trucking's focus shifts to details

Trucking will shift focus to securing key gains under national regulations, after governments agreed to abolish cross-border inconsistencies

August 23, 2011

The trucking industry will shift its focus to securing key gains under national regulations, after governments last week agreed to abolish cross-border inconsistencies.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) last week signed an intergovernmental agreement in support of national road, rail and maritime regulators. Western Australia did not sign the document but gave in-principle support.

NatRoad President Geoff Crouch the industry can now concentrate on the final package of laws to be submitted to transport ministers.

He says policy makers need to closely consult the industry on the final make-up of the laws to resolve outstanding issues.

"If outstanding policy issues cannot be resolved in the short-term, we will require concrete assurances that sound processes are in place for resolving these matters if we are to support the draft legislation," Crouch says.

"While we remain strongly supportive of concept of national heavy vehicle regulation we will not endorse a package that fails to deliver significant improvements in productivity, safety and accountability."

NatRoad wants the truck regulator to be directly involved in road access applications, while the NSW Government and councils want to retain control. The group proposes an independent review system be established to rule on access disputes.

Following COAG’s decision, ATA Chairman David Simon reiterated his criticisms of the current draft of national regulations.

The ATA wants an external review process if road managers deny access to vehicles such as B-doubles and road trains. It is also critical of the provision holding directors of officers personally guilty if a business is convicted of an offence.

"There needs to be a roundtable, participative approach to finalising the draft with industry, rather than endless rounds of consultation," Simon says.

Australian Logistics Council CEO Michael Kilgariff welcomed COAG’s decision as a "major milestone" to achieving national regulators and says governments must continue their efforts to see the reform come to fruition.

"Now, more than ever, all leaders must maintain this momentum and ensure they jurisdictions continue down the path of national regulatory reform in the transport sector."

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