NTC deflects ALTA charge of poor performance

Aspect of critique inaccurate and misleading says goernment advisory body

By Rob McKay | February 23, 2011

The National Transport Commission refused to be drawn into a debate on its performance following criticism by the Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA).

Saying only that the open letter from ALTA National President David Smith addressed to NTC Chairman Greg Martin "contains some inaccurate and misleading information", the federal government advisory body insisted it would "continue to work collaboratively with those stakeholders who engage in a professional and constructive manner and are committed to resolving issues".

Smith had accused the NTC of laxity in addressing issues relating to counting time, animal welfare provisions in fatigue management laws and the treatment of basic fatigue management review provisions of fatigue management laws.

"The NTC has been working hard in partnership with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Project Office, industry, unions and fatigue experts on developing the national law for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator," an NTC spokeswoman told ATN.

"The Draft Heavy Vehicle National Law Regulatory Impact Statement and Draft Heavy Vehicle National Law will be released for public consultation next week. The NTC will also make available an update on counting time on its website by the end of this week.

"Following the introduction of the model fatigue legislation, industry raised concerns with the NTC about the counting of work and rest time under the legislation.

"The NTC, with the agreement of state and territory governments, took action to resolve this issue.

"As with any proposed change to fatigue legislation, the first step was to seek advice from recognised fatigue experts to ensure the proposed changes do not compromise the safety of drivers or the broader community."

The NTC insisted it had worked closely with the ATA to brief the experts and ensure they understood industry concerns about counting time.

"The NTC will bring the fatigue experts and a small cross-section of industry representatives together to consider the options," the spokeswoman says.

Final recommendations are expected to be made public in March.

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