ATC agreement on national regulations a struggle

By: Jason Whittaker

Federal Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese will "struggle" to push a national reform agenda for the heavy vehicle

Federal Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese will "struggle" to push a national reform agenda for the heavy vehicle industry, according to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

Australia’s transport ministers will this Friday meet in Canberra to work towards implementing national heavy vehicle regulations.

As part of the Australian Transport Council (ATC), Australia’s transport ministers agreed in May to use the July 4 meeting to consider proposals for a national registration, regulation and licensing system for heavy vehicles.

But given the track record of state governments adapting national regulations, such as in soon-to-be introduced fatigue management laws, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is hesitant real progress will be made.

A spokesman for the peak body says it is important the ATC recognises "current regulations are not working" but admits the task is before Albanese to bring the parochial states into line.

"It is going to be a struggle but it is a struggle worth having," the spokesman says.

The ATA’s chairman, Trevor Martyn, has been highly critical of the states due to their insistence on bastardising national regulations.

"The new [fatigue management] laws will be an absolute fiasco, because the state and territory governments are out of control and have ignored the industry’s need for consistency across the state borders," Martyn says.

The ATA has repeatedly called for the Federal Government to seize control of heavy vehicle regulation to end jurisdictional inconsistencies that, the ATA says, hinders productivity and drives up running costs.

Depending on whether the council can agree on how best to move towards seamless regulations will determine whether it seeks the in-principle support of the Council of Australia Governments (CoAG) in October.

The meeting will also consider terms of reference as well as membership for the proposed National Road Safety Council designed to advise governments on road safety measures to be implemented nationally.

The ministers are also to use the meeting to develop a proposal on achieving a national rail safety regulator and a national rail safety investigator.

Australasian Railways Association Chief Executive Brian Nye is not confident any meaningful gains will be made towards a single regulator, claiming the states are attempting to keep in place their own regulators and investigators.

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