'Pig-headed' government jeopardising CoR reforms

"Pig-headed and arrogant" Rann Government accused of jeopardising chain of responsibility reforms because of its support for IAP

'Pig-headed' government jeopardising CoR reforms
'Pig-headed' government jeopardising CoR reforms
By Brad Gardner | September 2, 2009

A "pig-headed and arrogant" Rann Government is being accused of jeopardising vital chain of responsibility reforms because of its stance on the Intelligent Access Program (IAP).

The Government has refused to introduce chain of responsibility for speed despite gaining cross-bench support because the Opposition and Family First will not accept IAP.

Both schemes are part of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill, but the Liberals and Family First used their numbers in July in the Legislative Council to defeat the IAP provision.

Although both parties raised concerns about the cost and reliability of the program, the Government wants the Bill passed unamended and will re-introduce it when parliament resumes this month.

The situation has provoked an angry outburst from the South Australian Road Transport Association, which claims the Government’s actions reek of putting "petty politics" ahead of a law capable of improving safety and compliance.

"We know the chain of responsibility model works and that it’s the most effective way, backed up by targeted enforcement, to maximise safety and compliance," SARTA Chief Executive Steve Shearer says.

If passed, the law will put the onus on all parties in the supply chain to manage driver speed, and Shearer says there is no justification for delaying the reform because it is not affected by IAP.

"…The Government is being pig-headed and/or arrogant in refusing to...accommodate serious or reasonable concerns about the current IAP proposal...," he says.

However, Minister for Transport Patrick Conlon has defended the Government’s actions.

"This is a national reform and we support it in its entirety," he says.

Conlon claims it is the Opposition and SARTA who should be blamed for delaying the issue.

"They want to treat national reform like a Cadbury selection box and only pick out the bits they like," he says.

But opposition spokesman on roads and infrastructure David Ridgway tells ATN the Liberals will not back down and has accused the Government of trying to bully the Opposition.

He says the trucking industry is sceptical of the supposed benefits of IAP and the Government should not be trying to impose the new scheme.

"We’re going to support the industry on this," Ridgway says.

"This is just another heap of bureaucracy and cost on them [operators]."

Ridgway says he has sought to negotiate with the Government but his efforts have been rebuked by Conlon.

"I’m quite amazed the Minister isn’t prepared to be flexible on this," he says.

Claiming IAP is being used as a precursor to mass distance charging, Ridgway says the Government should not just accept the scheme because it is being sold as a national reform.

He has questioned IAP’s effectiveness, pointing to installation costs and a drop in enrolment figures as proof it is not attractive to operators.

Ridgway has also raised concerns over the effectiveness of the tool and whether drivers will be fined for circumstances outside of their control, such as when a vehicle goes into a tunnel and the GPS link is lost.

"The legislation provides that vehicles under this scheme will be penalised if the vehicle loses satellite coverage so, potentially, through no fault of the driver of the vehicle, he could be penalised," he says.

Family First’s Robert Brokenshire says it does not make sense to impose extra costs on trucking companies struggling under the weight of the global economic downturn.

Based on figures provided by an IAP service provider to Ridgway, it will cost $2,800 to install the necessary equipment in one truck, with an annual monitoring fee of $1600 per vehicle.

"If government and senior bureaucrats go down this path of continually placing more and more demands on the transport industry…they [operators] will either go broke…or they will have to increase the cost of freight," Brokenshire says.

"Times are tough at the moment. Let us give the transport industry and the families involved a fair go."

But Labor’s Gail Gago dismissed the claims as "fear mongering" and "simply misleading", saying IAP will only be used if it is cost neutral or delivers added benefits to companies.

Trucking operators in NSW and Queensland must enrol in IAP to gain higher mass limits access, while Victoria limited IAP to high productivity vehicles, cranes and concrete pump trucks.

IAP tracks a heavy vehicle's movement via GPS to ensure it does not stray onto a route incapable of supporting it.

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