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COAG has work to do on transport reform: report

WA lags other states on issues relating to freight transport and company management

Transport and management issues are lagging on the national economic reform path, the latest and last COAG Reform Council report shows.

And Western Australia features amongst the states dragging their feet most after signing up for the 2009 National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy.

Council Chairman John Brumby nominates transport and infrastructure as two of three crucial subjects for continued attention of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the other being energy.

“The reforms in these areas have the potential to save more money but also to improve our living standards, so it is imperative that governments are held accountable for their delivery,” Brumby says.

In presenting two key recommendations to Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Seamless National Economy: Final report on performance, Brumby notes that of “45 reforms we reports on, 31 are complete or on track to be complete”.

“Although the Seamless National Economy agreement is finished and most of its component reforms have been implemented, there is an ongoing need for competition and regulatory reforms to maintain and enhance our competitiveness,” he says.

“On this, we have two key recommendations this year.

“First, COAG should take steps to deliver the key unfinished business from the Seamless National Economy agreement, most notably ongoing energy, transport and infrastructure reforms.

“Second, in considering any future reform agendas, COAG should take note that greater progress was made on reforms that attracted reward payments under this agreement than on those reforms that did not attract reward payments.

“This echoes findings on financial incentives for governments under the earlier National Competition Policy framework.”

Though there was some confidence the state would complete many tasks, WA was noted as a laggard in deregulation priorities including, maritime safety and director’s liability, and in competition and other regulatory reforms, including heavy vehicles, port regulation, infrastructure access regimes and rail safety.

Least confidence attended WA, along with the Northern Territory, completing heavy vehicle reform.

The report also notes: “To deliver this reform, governments will set up a national regulator to achieve a consistent approach to driver competency and testing standards.

“It was originally intended that the regulator would administer a single, national heavy vehicle driver licence, but transport ministers have decided not to do this.

“However, the council is not aware of this decision being endorsed by COAG.”The report can be found here.

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