Regulator consultation to begin next year

Bureaucrats will begin consulting industry on national regulations next year, as transport ministers receive update on reform progress

By Brad Gardner | September 24, 2010

Consultation will begin next year on national regulations alongside a release of a report from experts on how to resolve inconsistencies across borders.

Meeting today, the Australian Transport Council received progress reports on national regulations and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator which will be introduced in 2013.

The ATC, which brings together the nation's transport ministers, says the National Transport Commission has made substantial progress in developing national laws and will begin formal industry talks in the first half of 2011.

"Ministers considered interim advice from an independent expert panel on a number of matters relating to the national heavy vehicle laws and will consider a final report from the panel in the first half of 2011," the communiqué from the meeting says.

The expert panel is made up of five members independent of government and the transport industry. It is considering a list of 11 issues including annual inspections, the ‘three strikes’ policy and reasonable steps defence under chain of responsibility.

Members are also looking at on-road compliance and enforcement, fatigue management and at what distance from their work should drivers carry a work diary.

The NTC says there 364 issues that must be addressed to achieve cross-border consistency. It lists registration, charges, mass and loading, higher mass limits, speed compliance and fatigue management as some of the 12 existing laws to be included in a national model.

Speaking at the recent annual conference of the Livestock and Rural Transport Association, Main Roads WA Managing Director Menno Henneveld highlighted the importance of listening to industry.

Henneveld, who was earlier this year appointed to oversee the establishment of the regulator, says success will depend on addressing industry needs.

"If we don’t achieve this and we finish up with a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator that doesn’t meet industry needs then we’ve failed," he says.

"We need to listen to industry concerns. We need to address industry concerns, not just put them to one side and say ‘we’ve heard that before’."

While not releasing details, the ATC says a decision has been reached on "key issues" associated with the development of a national partnerships agreement on regulations.

The NTC and the Standing Committee on Transport will also work together to develop a revised framework for transport reform planning and performance planning for endorsement early next year.

"This measure will further implement recommendations of the NTC review to provide a strong basis for strategic discussion by ATC of progress in transport reforms," the communiqué from the meeting says.

The heavy vehicle regulator will be established in Queensland with offices nationwide. Laws will be passed by Queensland’s parliament and other jurisdictions will be required to introduce similar legislation to ensure uniformity.

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