EDITORIAL: Regulatory inconsistency fails to deliver safety outcomes

By: Graham Gardiner


In this new era of ‘cooperative federalism’ it’s absolutely ridiculous that the nation’s road transport operators later this year will

In this new era of ‘cooperative federalism’ it’s absolutely ridiculous that the nation’s road transport operators later this year will face a new set of supposed national driving hours regulations that vary significantly across states and territories.

As ATN will reveal in the April edition of its print magazine, out next week, even the most experienced and professional operators are shaking their heads in disbelief about the complexities and costs involved in complying with the new rules.

Seasoned operators such as Nolan’s Interstate Transport – which has been involved in a pilot program leading up to the development of the new regulations – can’t see how the new rules will achieve their stated aim of improving fatigue management and safety outcomes.

With key differences across jurisdictions in such fundamental areas as maximum driving hours, split rest breaks and reasonable steps defence, interstate operators like Nolan’s will face substantially more paperwork and reporting requirements – and at great cost.

On top of this, training costs will blow out as operators attempt to ensure employees, from schedulers and drivers up to managers, are both educated on, and compliant with, the different regulations across jurisdictions.

The company's compliance manager, Darren Nolan, suggests that it will be all too much for many of the industry’s older drivers, who he predicts will give up at the prospect of a new and complex set of procedures, policies and paperwork that will make their jobs more difficult.

If the new Rudd Government is serious about ushering in a new era of ‘cooperative federalism’, then it needs to act – and act quick – on the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) call, in the National Transport Plan recently submitted to Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, for consistent safety regulation across borders.

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