Give us more power, NTC says

NTC wants to be granted new and widespread powers to influence transport policy and key reforms

By Brad Gardner

The National Transport Commission (NTC) wants to be granted new and widespread powers to influence transport policy and key regulatory reforms.

In its submission to a review of the future of the NTC, the government body claims it needs to play a significant role in advising governments and extending its influence to all modes of passenger and freight transport.

According to the NTC, granting it whole-of-reform powers on regulatory and operational reforms and ‘strategic’ policy and planning advice is essential to improving the transport industry.

It says it is currently limited in its role and it needs to be the body responsible for advising governments and bureaucratic departments on policy direction.

"Limiting the NTC’s scope to regulatory reform does not allow it to fully develop responses to current and emerging issues," the NTC says.

Its submission warns governments that failing to expand the NTC’s powers may result in much-needed national reforms stalling, in turn affecting productivity and efficiency.

"Failing to keep up the pace of reform can also create the risk of the benefits from previous reforms dissipating and industry to backslide," the submission says.

The NTC’s submission says its ability to build relationships by consulting stakeholders and its "significant body of corporate knowledge" should also be key reasons to allow it to offer "broad strategic advice" to the Australian Transport Council (ATC) and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

However, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has criticised the NTC’s consultative approach, accusing it of ignoring local governments.

ALGA Chief Executive Adrain Beresford-Wylie says the NTC has a view that simply dealing with a representative body is acceptable when providing information on road transport reforms.

"This is not the case but the NTC has shown a reluctance to engage with councils and this perhaps illustrates the NTC’s view that once the regulations are amended its role has ceased," Beresforf-Wylie says.

The ALGA wants the NTC to directly engage councils on road transport reforms, saying while it may be costly it will help when implementing reforms.

Despite the criticism, Beresford-Wylie says the NTC does consult the ALGA regularly and extensively, adding that the peak representative group is satisfied with the level of consultation.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese earlier this year announced a review into the NTC as part of a requirement to evaluate it every six years.

Albanese named a three-person review team which will present its findings to the ATC in May.

The ATC will consider the report when it meets in June or July, with the final report to be considered in September.

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