We need funds for national regulator: ATA

ATA fears a lack of resources will undermine efforts to score best deal for industry under national regulator

By Brad Gardner | June 21, 2010

The trucking lobby fears its efforts to score the best deal for the industry under national regulations may be undermined due to a lack of resources.

During last week’s council meeting, members of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) rejected a proposal from the group’s secretariat for an extra $273,000 a year.

ATA Government Relations Manager Bill McKinley says the funds are needed to devote time to understanding the effect a national regulator will have on operators.

Council documents obtained by ATN show the money is intended to be used for travel expenses, consultancy fees, salaries, communications and contingencies.

According to the documents, the ATA’s policy team is already focused on other issues.

"Without additional resources, the policy unit would have to discontinue most of its current activities in order to liaise with the regulator and carry out the consultations with member associations and companies needed to support this role," the documents say.

A regulator is due to be introduced in 2013 to end cross-border inconsistencies plaguing interstate operators. It will be based in Queensland and legislation will be passed by that state’s parliament. Other jurisdictions will then implement the same laws.

ATA Government Relations Manager Bill McKinley says the regulator is the industry’s top priority, but warns of the consequences if the funds are not available to focus on the issue.

"We would need to delay projects," he says.

McKinley declined to comment on why ATA members rejected the funding proposal, but ATN understands members are reluctant to agree to extra money because of the group’s current financial liabilities.

According to 2010 actual figures listed in the council papers, the ATA’s Road Ahead exhibition has recorded a $97,664 loss this year. It lost $175,928 in 2009.

The NSW branch of the ATA has lost $23,052 this year, following an $18,195 loss in 2009.

ATN understands members want the group to focus more on using its resources more effectively instead of seeking more money. Members were also critical over what they perceived as lack of a detailed proposal from the ATA for the money.

Due to the location of the regulator, the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) offered to shoulder the responsibility for lobbying on the industry’s behalf.

While noting the "generous suggestion" the ATA decided against agreeing to the proposal on the basis the national regulator will want to work on a national basis.

Furthermore, the ATA argues the QTA will be put in a difficult position if the national position differs from the one supported by its members.

"A better approach would be to increase the ATA’s resources," the council papers say.

"Although this approach would carry a cost, it would ensure the industry’s lobbying had a national focus and that the interests of all the ATA’s members were taken into account."

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