EDITORIAL: Cant build rest areas? Then scrap the fatigue laws

By: Jason Whittaker


Call off the inspectors. Lawmakers, stand down. The new heavy vehicle fatigue regulations will have to be called off. There’s simply

Call off the inspectors. Lawmakers, stand down. The new heavy vehicle fatigue regulations will have to be called off.

There’s simply no other choice. It’s not even that operators will struggle to comply with the complex new framework by September, which astoundingly remains the implementation date, it’s that simply they can’t.

And governments and bureaucrats only have themselves to blame. Tasked with upgrading rest areas so drivers can comply with the new laws, they have failed to respond. And, despite the new laws being only four months away, there is a distinct lack of urgency – in fact almost no action at all – to do anything about it.

It’s not like governments are unaware of the outrageous conditions for drivers on the road. A report commissioned by road authorities into the disgraceful state of fatigue-busting facilities condemned governments everywhere for not providing appropriate rest stops.

The report barely made a ripple in the halls of power. While governments began passing the laws that through their own neglect they have made impossible to comply with.

The Federal Government put $70 million on the table to upgrade facilities, a mere drop in the bucket of what’s needed, but with the Coalition blocking the legislation that also includes massive road pricing increases Labor refuses to unlock the funds.

And don’t expect a cent of Kevin Rudd’s $20 billion infrastructure fund to be spent on rest areas. That money is being horded in an account locked up for years, and the Government couldn’t find a single seat on its Infrastructure Australia advisory board for a real transport operator. A representative that would know why rest areas are perhaps the most important transport infrastructure there is.

So it can’t be helped. The legislation will simply have to be scrapped.

Shame, really.

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