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ALC intervenes to keep national reforms alive

ALC fears jurisdictions will run rampant unless heavy vehicle regulator has teeth to ensure national uniformity of transport laws

By Brad Gardner | March 29, 2011

The peak transport and logistics body has sought a meeting with the Federal Government over concerns jurisdictions will jeopardise national transport reforms unless stringent conditions are imposed.

Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO Michael Kilgariff has written to Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese raising doubts about the prospect of the reforms in the wake of the release of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Draft Regulatory Impact Statement last month.

The document outlines proposals to resolve cross-border differences to achieve national uniformity, but Kilgariff is worried the wording is unclear and will leave compliance functions in the hands of the states and territories instead of the national heavy vehicle regulator.

“This leads ALC to the belief there is an expectation that state and territory entities will be making many of the decisions that will affect the operation of transport and logistics industry participants,” Kilgariff writes.

“Members of ALC would be grateful for the opportunity to meet with you or officers of your department to discuss our concerns in more detail.”

Kilgariff fears jurisdictions will develop their own cultures, interpret national law provisions in diverging ways and develop their own enforcement priorities unless clear guidelines are set.

“The net effect may be that the national law will not be enforced uniformly and the benefits of a single national law identified in the RIS could be lost,” Kilgariff says.

The ALC wants all critical functions of national law to be under the auspices of the regulator.

Kilgariff says other agencies should only be given the power to delegate after they have undergone training by the regulator. He says the agencies should be banned from publishing guidelines on how national law should be interpreted or implemented.

The regulator is designed to oversee national laws once they are introduced in 2013. It will be based in Queensland with offices throughout Australia.

The regulatory impact statement, released by the National Transport Commission, recommends changes to fatigue laws and compliance and enforcement procedures to achieve national uniformity.

The document recommends a new advanced fatigue management (AFM) scheme and amendments to help operators defend allegations of fatigue breaches.

However, the document recommends allowing the states and territories to retain their own policies on higher mass limits (HML) and overloading sanctions.

NSW is also refusing to abolish its ’three strikes’ policy despite being told there is no evidence to suggest it works.

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