National trucking laws will fail, Truss claims

Opposition claims national laws will fail, as Rudd Government blasts Coalition's transport reform record

National trucking laws will fail, Truss claims
National trucking laws will fail, Truss claims
By Brad Gardner

The Rudd Government has been criticised over its approach to reforming transport laws, with claims it does not "have the courage or skill" to overhaul anachronistic regulations.

Amid accusations that he did nothing to overhaul cross-border inconsistencies during his time in government, opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss says promised cooperation from the nation's leaders on the development of national laws has "failed".

With the introduction of the laws being pushed back from 2012 to 2013, Truss says the Government is attempting to shirk reform because it does not want to make tough decisions on how to reduce the trucking industry’s compliance costs.

"Frankly, I doubt that the Government have (sic) the courage or skill to actually deliver common national road transport laws around the nation, and this costly burden of inefficiency will rest upon the sector for a very long time," he says.

"All the promises about the goodwill there would be between the Rudd Labor government and the sates have simply failed to deliver action in this very important area."

However, a spokesperson for Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says the reforms will be implemented on time and will slash business’ costs.

Citing Truss’ time as transport minister in the former Howard Government, the spokesperson says he has a record of failure.

"When he was transport minister, Mr Truss did nothing to reform Australian transport systems. In fact the Coalition showed no interest in national transport reforms for the entire 12 years that they (sic) were in government," the spokesperson says.

Calling it "a historic step towards achieving a truly national transport system", the spokesperson says the deal struck on national laws by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on July 2 will deliver sweeping changes to the rail, maritime and heavy vehicle sectors.

Following the COAG agreement, Ron Finemore from Finemore Transport wrote to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd congratulating him on his "leadership and commitment" on the issue.

"I am delighted that as prime minister, you have had the vision and resolve to champion this long overdue national reform to what I hope will be a successful and worthwhile conclusion," Finemore wrote in a letter obtained by ATN.

In a separate letter signed by Toll, Linfox and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Rudd was urged to push ahead with the reforms, while Albanese was praised for gaining the support of state and territory leaders.

"We appreciate Minister Albanese’s efforts to get agreement among his state and territory counterparts to this proposal and your government should be congratulated for pursuing these important national reforms," the letter to Rudd reads.

"If we get this reform right, having one set of rules and a first-class national compliance system will boost national productivity."

Truss criticised the Government while also pledging the Opposition’s support for national dangerous goods legislation.

Government Whip and member for Werriwa Chris Hayes says the Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Repeal Bill will set model regulations and introduce the Australian Dangerous Goods Code.

"The Australian Dangerous Goods Code is a technical document setting out detailed instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by road or rail and is based on international model regulations," Hayes says.

The Bill must also pass the Senate to allow the ACT to enact dangerous goods provisions and bring the territory into line with other jurisdictions.

"The ACT cannot implement the model legislation until the Commonwealth repeals the Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995," Truss says.

In speaking on the Bill, Labor’s John Sullivan supported efforts to give the ACT more power to pass its own laws, saying the federal government’s ability to override territory assemblies is a form of ‘big brother’.

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