ATC to overhaul regulations and expand road network

By: Jason Whittaker

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) will look at removing a number of heavy vehicle restrictions that exist across borders when

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) will look at removing a number of heavy vehicle restrictions that exist across borders when it next meets.

In a speech at the 2008 Australian Trucking Convention, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese told attendees the nation’s transport ministers will examine heavy vehicle regulation and the establishment of the National Road Safety Council when they meet on July 4.

He says the "next step" in removing onerous amounts of red tape is part of the national transport plan all ministers are intent on implementing.

While he noted progress had been made during the February and May ATC meetings, Albanese hinted the real work will begin after the July meeting.

"The ludicrous situation where heavy vehicles that move freight across our state borders are faced with different rules, registration charges, fatigue regulations and enforcement regimes must be brought to an end," Albanese says.

"The new transport policy will deliver fresh momentum to productivity reforms such as wider adoption of Performance Based Standards, Higher Mass Limits and expanding the B-triple network."

He says the reforms will go a long way in removing a number of bottlenecks that currently restrict industry productivity.

But in talking up the potential of a national transport policy, Albanese also told the convention it was under threat from the Opposition, which is using its majority in the Senate to block registration charges in the Australian Capital Territory.

"One of the results of the defeat of the legislation in the Senate is that state registration charges are no significantly out of step with the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme," he says.

In arguing his point, Albanese accused the Coalition of undermining its economic credibility because it is blocking the passage of bills which aim to end cross-subsidisation and under recovery in road expenditure.

He questioned why the Coalition was using its numbers to stall the process as it was Mark Vaile, the former transport minister, who supported the higher charges when the Howard Government was in power.

"The hypocrisy of the Coalition on this issue is breathtaking," Albanese says.

The Minister also used his speech to outline the commitments the Rudd Government made in the recent federal Budget, such as the $20 billion Building Australia Fund. The fund is to be used to bankroll key road, rail and port infrastructure projects, with funds becoming available in the 2009-10 financial year.

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