SCOTI backs national regs as Baird named NHVR chair


Transport ministers back legislation for national regulations, while a former NSW transport minister has been tasked with chairing the NHVR

SCOTI backs national regs as Baird named NHVR chair
SCOTI backs national regs as Baird named NHVR chair
By Brad Gardner | November 4, 2011

Transport ministers have backed legislation to create a single set of trucking laws and appointed a former NSW transport minister to chair the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

The inaugural Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI), which replaced the Australian Transport Council and met in Canberra today, approved a Bill to enact national truck regulations on January 1, 2013.

A spokeswoman for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the Bill will enter Queensland Parliament on November 15. The other states and territories will be responsible for passing similar legislation in 2012 to ensure national uniformity.

The spokeswoman has also confirmed negotiations will be held next year on an amendment Bill designed to address unresolved issues.

The trucking lobby, which has concerns over the current draft legislation relating to access conditions and compliance and enforcement, wants amendments made before national regulations begin.

"For the first time in our history, long haul freight operators will no longer need to meet different laws and rules for log books, driving hours and maximum loads as they cross state borders," Albanese says.

"They will have the freedom to drive across eight Australian states and territories under the one rule book, ending a huge compliance burden for the nation’s truck drivers.

"The new heavy vehicle law will cover registration, fatigue management, mass and loading limits and compliance requirements for all heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes."

Bruce Baird, who retired from politics in 2007 and currently chairs the Tourism and Transport board, was tasked with chairing the NHVR.

"Mr Baird has extensive knowledge of the transport industry and brings high level leadership qualities to this important role," Albanese says.

Ministers also voted to begin an international search for a CEO for the NHVR and the position of the National Rail Regulator.

Under changes to rail regulations, operators will be able to obtain national accreditation instead of having to apply for accreditation in each state and territory. Albanese says one set of rules will apply to operators’ safety management systems.

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) will be the industry’s national regulator, replacing seven state and territory regulators and 50 pieces of maritime legislation.

South Australia will be responsible for enacting the Rail Safety National Law Bill later this year.

"These reforms will see an end to 110 years of duplication and confusion and provide long term benefits for business, workers and the economy," Albanese says.

In a move designed to engage industry, Albanese recently invited representatives from the Australian Trucking Association, the Australian Logistics Council and the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association to sit in on the meeting.

The National Transport Commission, Ports Australia, the Australasian Railways Association also attended, along with the Transport Workers Union and the Rail Tram and Bus Union.

"Engaging the sector directly makes a lot more sense than having a closed door policy and provides an opportunity for the government to gain direct feedback," Albanese says.

The SCOTI meeting involved ministers from all states and territories and was established under a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to focus on regulatory reform.

Its remit covers a range of areas across the transport sector, including safety and security, the environment, capital city planning and investment in road, rail and ports.

ATA Chairman David Simon says the industry has some "extremely serious" concerns with the draft legislation, but is hopeful the amendment package will fix them.

"One of the ATA’s priorities is to make sure that directors, corporate officers, sole traders and partners in trucking businesses are innocent until proven guilty of road transport offences. Under the current Bill they are presumed to be guilty – which goes against everything Australians believe is fair and just," he says.

"In addition, road asset managers like local governments need to be more accountable for their decisions about the trucks that can use their roads."

Simon labelled the SCOTI meeting "a huge step forward in the development of the national laws". He specifically thanked Albanese for inviting industry representatives and referred to it as a significant win for the ATA and the trucking industry.






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