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Gay takes swipe at NatRoad as Bill passes

NatRoad's criticism of New South Wales' handling of national heavy vehicle regulations leaves the State's road minister unimpressed

By Brad Gardner | September 23, 2013

The New South Wales Government has taken a swipe at industry representative body NatRoad for its criticism of the State’s approach to national heavy vehicle regulations.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay registered his disappointment with the lobby group as Parliament passed the Heavy Vehicle (Adoption of National Law) Amendment Bill, which preserves existing NSW-specific initiatives under the new national regulatory framework.

The Bill also maintains an independent power of prosecution once national regulations begin and empowers the Government to impose extra conditions on trucking firms operating under advanced fatigue management (AFM).

Both measures led to NatRoad publicly accusing NSW of exposing businesses to risk and uncertainty and threatening to undermine road safety.

Just as the Legislative Council prepared last week to follow the Lower House’s lead by passing the Bill, Gay thanked the Australian Trucking Association and the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association for their support and “wise advice” before turning to NatRoad.

“Sadly, I was a little disappointed in the behaviour of representatives of the National Road Transport Operators Association (NatRoad) who, frankly, overreacted on several of the key clauses in the Bill, notably the prosecution provision,” he says.

NatRoad was scathing in its assessment of the Bill when it was introduced in Parliament, with President Geoff Crouch saying it put the NSW Government in danger of breaching its commitment to support national regulations.

“The Bill will rob Australian business of the promise that Australia will have a single heavy vehicle regulator, which has clear authority to set a consistent, definitive standard for your corporate road safety obligations,” Crouch said at the time.

“Every Australian business which sends, carries or receives any goods, or any freight, travelling over any part of the NSW road system, will be let down by this Bill.”

Crouch fears the the NSW Government’s power to mandate extra conditions on AFM-accredited firms beyond those that fatigue experts set could lead to inconsistency and conflicting instructions.

NatRoad also claimed the Bill’s provision on prosecutions, which mirrors Victoria’s approach, would allow the State to launch action against any party in the transport supply chain. But the Government has insisted it is not the intention of the provision.

“Its intention is to make prosecutions more secure under the national law rather than an independent power for agencies in NSW,” Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads Stuart Ayres says.

Gay says the Bill will allow the NHVR to operate within NSW and also confirms the State’s commitment to national heavy vehicle regulations. NSW passed the Heavy Vehicle National Lawearlier this year to adopt national regulations.

“Industry has been seeking a national regulator for heavy vehicles under a national consistent heavy vehicle regulatory regime for many years,” Gay says.

“The application of the Heavy Vehicle National Law within New South Wales will support the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and allow it to take on extra functions to benefit the heavy vehicle industry during the remainder of 2013.”

The Opposition supported the Bill’s passage, along with the Greens and the Christian Democratic Party.

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