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Albanese criticises bureaucrats stalling reforms

Bureaucrats are attempting to stifle progress towards removing regulatory overlaps in the trucking, rail and shipping industries.

By Brad Gardner

Bureaucrats are attempting to stall key national transport reforms as the Federal Government rules out using its multi-billion dollar building fund to buy votes.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says there is still a pocket of resistance in adopting streamlined regulations across borders, but says bureaucrats have not offered valid reasons as to why red tape should not be slashed.

He told them to adopt “the political will to push forward” with reforms, saying current regulations are “absurd” and need to go.

“There is still some resistance from elements of the bureaucracy about the need for national systems in many of these areas,” Albanese says.

“But there is no legitimate argument which says that we shouldn’t have a single national system for the regulation, registration and licensing of heavy vehicles.”

Albanese has sided with the Australasian Railways Association (ARA) in lambasting the number of rail regulators in Australia, saying it us unacceptable for there to be eight rail safety regulators and safety investigators.

“In the European Union they have one, one for the whole of Europe,” he says.

“It is absurd that trains stop at borders to change the staffing ratios on those trains. It is absurd that between Casino and Brisbane trains had to stop until recently every 20 kilometres while the driver got out and manually recorded where he was on that rail line.”

Albanese says bureaucrats must also end their opposition to removing regulatory overlaps in the shipping industry, which have different standards for ships and skills recognition.

He made the comments during a speech at the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Conference, using the address to also assure attendees the $20 billion Building Australia Fund will not “take into account electoral considerations”.

“And I will say no to short termism, whether it’s to members of my own caucus or state premiers or fellow ministers,” Albanese says.

“If you look after your infrastructure, my view is that the politics shall look after itself.”

Albanese also told attendees the Government will be looking to the private sector to help determine infrastructure priorities.

Although Infrastructure Australia is currently compiling a priority list for funding allocations, Albanese says the Government will be looking beyond the 12-member council in an effort to involve as many stakeholders in the policies that go to Cabinet.

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