King: WA must retain its own fatigue laws

Fight looms over any push to extend fatigue management laws from eastern states into Western Australia under national regulations

King: WA must retain its own fatigue laws
King: WA must retain its own fatigue laws
By Brad Gardner | July 7, 2010

The trucking lobby has vowed to fight any attempt by the national heavy vehicle regulator to impose fatigue management laws from eastern states on Western Australia.

Transport Forum WA CEO Ian King (pictured) says Western Australia must retain its existing laws, which differ from those introduced in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

The heavy vehicle regulator will be introduced in 2013 to abolish cross-border inconsistencies, but King says Western Australia has specific needs.

He says the existing regime on driving hours accounts for the sparsely populated regions drivers must travel through, adding that towns can be as much as 600km apart unlike those in eastern states.

"We don’t want to be held up with a regulator that says one size fits all," King says.

"We are going to be insistent that WA doesn’t lose anything."

King questions why fatigue laws from other states will need to be expanded when most Western Australian trucking operators work intrastate.

"Why should we need to be tied up with their fatigue arrangements?" King asks.

Unlike other states that restrict work time to 144 hours in any 14 day period, Western Australia permits 168 hours in any 14 day period.

Drivers can also work for 17 hours in one day. NSW and Queensland allow drivers to work for 16 hours under the advanced fatigue management module, but only in extenuating circumstances.

Western Australian drivers can also work up to 24 days before a day off, the Department of Transport says.

While eastern states impose tight restrictions on night driving, Western Australia cautions against excessive night work.

"Solo drivers can work through the night, but it is recommended that night work be kept to a minimum to guard against the risk of fatigue," the department says.

King says fatigue management laws from eastern states will not be workable in Western Australia, adding that he will be making it known to the regulator "loud and clear".

"When they come into WA they then [should] operate under WA [rules]," King says of interstate operators.

He also welcomed the appointment of Main Roads WA Managing Director Menno Henneveld as the chairman of the board overseeing the establishment of the regulator.

The board also includes representatives from the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, VicRoads and the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

"He is a superb bureaucrat...He is a champion of our industry," King says.

The heavy vehicle regulator will be set up in Queensland with offices around Australia. Laws will be introduced into the Queensland Parliament to apply nationwide.

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