Give the feds responsibility for making road rules: ALC

ALC wants the states and territories stripped of the power to set road rules and is urging NTC backing

Give the feds responsibility for making road rules: ALC
Give feds responsibility for road rules: ALC

By Brad Gardner | December 15, 2011

The responsibility for making road rules should be handed to the Federal Government, according to the Australian Logistics Council, which wants the states and territories left out of the loop.

As the National Transport Commission eyes changes to road rules and vehicle standards to remove state and territory-based inconsistencies, ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff has written to the group criticising the status quo.

In his letter, Kilgariff says drivers and vehicles crossing state and territory borders are regularly subjected to constantly changing requirements.

"By virtue of this mobility, ALC believes one set of rules should be made by a single parliament who must then take full political responsibility for the effectiveness of the rules that have been made," he says.

"…the best result would be achieved through a reference of powers to the Commonwealth."

Kilgariff says a nationally consistent model would improve safety for Australian and overseas drivers by ending the need for them to navigate a multitude of state and territory laws. He says the current system makes cross-border driving confusing and therefore more dangerous.

The NTC last month released a discussion paper highlighting inconsistencies in road rules, such as differences in speed limits, turning manoeuvres, licensing conditions and enforcement and penalties.

The group also cited differences in implementation dates among jurisdictions. It has proposed adopting a standard implementation date to improve cross-border consistency.

Currently, the states and territories draw on a model document when drafting their own legislation. The NTC says this process can lead to jurisdictions making their own amendments.

The ALC has also recommended an applied law approach as a second option, whereby one state or territory enacts a law and other jurisdictions follow.

It is the approach being used in the development of national heavy vehicle regulations, with Queensland introducing legislation to get the process running.

Kilgariff says a national vehicle registration system could be established if governments agree to one set of rules, ending the need for state-based registration and local vehicle standards schemes.

"This would further reduce compliance costs and improve the productivity of companies operating vehicle fleets in a number of different states," he says.

Prior to releasing the discussion paper, the NTC surveyed Australians to gauge their views on existing road rules and vehicle standards.

According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents believe existing regulations are appropriate.

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