National reforms '100 years too late': Albo

Transport Minister says governments must deliver on national regulations, arguing that reform "is 100 years too late"

By Brad Gardner | August 19, 2011

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says governments must deliver on national regulations, arguing that reforms are "100 years too late".

The nation’s leaders are meeting in Canberra today to decide whether to support intergovernmental agreements for a single regulatory system for the road, rail and maritime sectors.

Albanese says morphing 23 regulators into three will deliver a $30 billion boost to national income over the next 20 years and drive productivity gains.

"It is time for this reform. It is 100 years too late, but it is time to get this reform done," Albanese told Parliament yesterday.

"This will be absolutely vital for getting rid of anomalies which are there."

Albanese cites the case of the rail sector, which currently has seven separate regulatory authorities and 46 different pieces of state, territory and federal legislation, and the weight restrictions imposed on trucking operators.

"The amount of hay you can put on the back of a truck in Victoria is different if the truck is in NSW and different again if it is South Australia," he says.

"This is important reform. The Opposition talked about this but did nothing about it for 12 years. We are going to get it done."

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will be based in Queensland, while South Australia will host the rail regulator.

As part of its role, the NHVR will be responsible for streamlining licensing standards, providing a one-stop-shop for operators on access conditions and vehicle registration, replacing the need to deal with multiple agencies.

In an opinion piece published today in The Australian, Albanese says ending the need for operators to comply with different rules is a critical microeconomic reform.

He says the current system "has no place in a modern Australia".

"It does not make sense that a cattle farmer transporting animals from Queensland to NSW must unload some or transfer them to a second vehicle to meet the lower mass limits in NSW. It is stressful for stock and adds up to $9 per head to freight costs," Albanese writes.

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