Strong support for national regulations: 2020 Summit report

By: Jason Whittaker

The Rudd Government will look at abolishing anachronistic regulations and increasing greater take-up of higher mass limits (HML) and performance-based

The Rudd Government will look at abolishing anachronistic regulations and increasing greater take-up of higher mass limits (HML) and performance-based standards following the release of the 2020 Summit report.

The report, released following the summit in April, notes strong criticism of the number of irregularities across borders, such as fatigue management and weight restrictions.

Attendees called on the Government to address different rules applying to B-triples, as well as to call on NSW to remove its three-tonne weight limit on the HML network.

As well as proposing performance-based standards, once obtained, to apply nationwide, there was a also a push for uniformity for low loaders to end the variations that exist from state to state as well as in the Northern Territory.

The Government is to use the findings of the 2020 Summit to assist in policy development. It will respond to the report by the end of the year, at which time the transport industry will learn what the Government will push ahead with and what will be dismissed.

In order to achieve harmonised regulations, participants suggested the Government implement a carrots and sticks approach by making incentive payments to states that progress reform, while penalising those which fail to comply.

Other participants suggested abolishing the states altogether and replacing them with amalgamated councils modelled on the regional provinces proposal of the Labor Party in 1920, which sought to establish 31 provinces.

Another group proposed all regulations be implemented at a national level with local governments to deliver services.

The future of the Australian Transport Council (ATC) might also be in jeopardy, with one group arguing ministerial councils hinder key reforms, and should be scrapped.

Although the Government has not committed to following through with all of the proposals, attendees agreed immediate action must be taken to end regulatory overlaps to free the trucking industry of the administrative and financial burden of complying with numerous laws.

"Nationwide harmonisation and standardisation are urgent," the report says.

"This should include uniform regulation, licensing, standards and enforcement for land transport, food, agriculture, client services and promotion to our export markets."

The green agenda also made some noise in regards to infrastructure investment, repeating calls to scrap road funding in favour of public transport and rail.

"There is an urgent need to invest in passenger and freight rail and stop reliance on road transport," the report says.

There were also calls for a congestion tax to be introduced over the long term.

Summiteers also spoke of the need to address skills shortages and improve workplace outcomes, with some proposing the establishment of mentoring programs led by semi-retired or retired people as well as a return to collective bargaining favoured by the unions.

Participants also called for training programs to better reflect the needs of the industry, with a proposal that no one should graduate post-secondary education unless their qualification is made up of at least 20 percent of workforce experience.

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