Rego and licence scheme has support but industry wants more details

By: Jason Whittaker

The Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association says a national registration and licensing scheme can deliver substantial savings, but warns the

The Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association says a national registration and licensing scheme can deliver substantial savings, but warns the industry to be aware of "the devil in the detail".

Andrew Higginson, the Executive Director of the association, has flagged in-principle support for a national scheme, which the Australian Transport Council (ATC) agreed to work towards implementing by July 1 2009.

Higginson describes the current registration system as a complex administrative burden on interstate operators, who make up a large chunk of the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association’s members.

The lack of national unity means operators are subject to different taxes, costs and registration and inspection categories.

"The range of different categories and complexity in terms of trying to register vehicles in different states is a huge problem currently because you can’t match one state’s category with another state’s category," he says.

Streamlining the process will free up trucking operators, Higginson says, by removing a number of regulatory overlaps they must abide by when crossing state and territory borders.
"The pure administrative savings could be quite substantial," he says.
"As a principle, if you get national consistency in that area, that’s a good thing."

But the question remains for Higginson as to how governments plan to implement a national scheme. It is not known how the Federal Government will distribute licensing and registration revenue, whether costs will rise or if accreditation programs will be altered.

It is this uncertainty, according to Higginson, which means the industry needs to be wary of the scheme until more is known.
"In the trucking sector it is a good thing, but the devil in the detail is going to come when they say, ‘This is what we mean by this’," he says.

The industry, however, will be forced to wait until at least July before details start emerging as to how governments plan to implement the national scheme. The nation’s transport ministers will take with them individual proposals to July’s ATC meeting.

Following that, the national registration and licensing scheme will be taken to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to gauge the level of support among the nation's leaders.

If the proposal gains the support of the COAG, ministers will then meet again as part of the ATC in November to develop a single framework to work towards implementing a national registration and licensing system.

While declining to be drawn on how the ministers will determine revenue distribution, a spokesman for Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese says he expects those under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) will become part of a national system as their licence expires.

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