Road transport taskforce announced as reforms stall

By: Jason Whittaker

A taskforce will be set up to work towards creating a single registration and licensing scheme for the heavy vehicle

A taskforce will be set up to work towards creating a single registration and licensing scheme for the heavy vehicle industry but moves to reduce other regulatory burdens have been put on hold.

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) has announced the National Heavy Vehicle Regulation Implementation Team will work with the states in drafting a number of measures aimed at streamlining the reform process.

According to the communiqué from the latest ATC meeting, the taskforce will develop regulatory impact assessments, intergovernmental agreements and draft laws. It will also design the structure, functions and resource and funding arrangements.

The ATC is pushing to implement a single heavy vehicle regulator by July 2009, with the aim to have in place a uniform registration and licensing scheme by 2010.

NSW Minister for Roads Eric Roozendaal says the ATC agreed the regulator must focus on efficiency, delivering safety outcomes for the road freight industry as well as a comprehensive regulatory and compliance service.

The ATC communiqué also states the desire for a consistent approach to heavy vehicle driver competency and testing standards as well as a heavy vehicle driver training school by 2010.

The outcome is in stark contrast to progress on road use pricing and network access, with the ATC making no firm commitment on when these issues will be resolved.

"In recognition of the complexity associated with road use pricing and network access, ministers agreed that these two areas of regulation would be considered over time by ATC and CoAG," the communiqué says.

Despite calls from the industry for higher productivity vehicles to be granted wider access, the decision means B-triples are unlikely to operate between capital cities anytime soon.

Nonetheless, Roozendaal says ministers are taking significant steps in reducing industry red tape.

"Establishing a national heavy vehicle regulator will be a breakthrough for raod safety and for workplace safety among truck drivers," Roozendaal says.

"This is a major step forward for the trucking industry and the general community."

During the meeting, ministers presented progress reports on the National Transport Policy. However, the communiqué states "substantive issues" will not be discussed until the November 7 ATC meeting.

Each state is tasked with certain responsibilities under the policy, which include urban congestion, safety and security, climate change and infrastructure.

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