WARTA wants to pick and choose on national regs

WARTA wants "cast iron-guarantee" on national regulations giving Western Australia the choice to decide what changes it will accept

WARTA wants to pick and choose on national regs
WARTA wants to pick and choose on national regs
By Brad Gardner | September 2, 2011

Western Australia’s trucking lobby wants a "cast-iron guarantee" giving the state the power to pick and choose what it will accept under national heavy vehicle regulations.

The Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) wants the state’s government to insist on a get-out clause when a single set of laws begins in 2013.

Following Premier Colin Barnett’s decision not to sign the intergovernmental agreement on the regulations last month, WARTA CEO Ian King says the clause is the only way to protect the state’s vaunted fatigue and productivity schemes.

Queensland will be responsible for introducing legislation under national regulations. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) project team says the other jurisdictions will then need to pass an enabling Act to apply the Queensland law.

King is concerned Western Australia will be forced to accept any changes pushed through Queensland’s Parliament even if they do not benefit the Sandgropers.

"We are trying to put in legislative security barriers. We can’t just say yes. Because if we say yes what are we going to end up with?" King says.

"If we’re going to get gazumped and they do something to our fatigue management then we can say, ‘No’."

He says the clause is necessary to avoid "the cockups that happen in the eastern states".

King reiterated his objection to passing national regulations as a two-stage process, saying governments should take the time to get them right.

He says the WARTA has put "intense pressuring" on the government to secure guarantees before signing up.

While some within lobbying ranks have expressed disappointment over the WARTA’s stance, King says the feedback from his membership has been great.

"We’ve been inundated with support," he says.

The WARTA in June this year broke ranks with other members of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) when the peak lobby proposed governments march ahead with a Bill establishing national regulations despite a number of unresolved concerns.

The ATA recommended governments introduce an amendments package before June 30, 2012 addressing any outstanding problems.

King questioned the logic of the approach.

"Can you imagine bureaucrats who have been working on this for two and half years actually finishing off anything? Not likely. They’ll move onto something bigger and better," he said in June.

"The amendments will come in and it will just be a mix-match of everything."

The NHVR Industry Advisory Group, which includes Linfox, Toll and Woolworths, says the two-stage process is necessary to implement the reforms in time.

King opposes relying on the group’s advice. He believes it does not represent a majority of Western Australia’s trucking industry – small operators with five trucks or less.

Unlike eastern states, Western Australia runs its fatigue management regime under occupational health and safety law. The state permits drivers to work more hours than their eastern counterparts in any 14-day period and up to 17 hours in one day.

Eastern states have strict conditions on night-time driving, while Western Australia only cautions against excessive work through the night.

West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell has previously stated he will not deal on the state’s fatigue scheme, accreditation system and productivity variations.

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