Transport industry demands reform action

Ahead of crucial meeting, peak bodies warn bureaucratic inertia and lack of implementation

April 11, 2012

Peak industry bodies lined up to urge State and Federal ministers to make good on their reform pledges ahead of the crucial meeting Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Business Advisory Forum tomorrow.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA)
Chairman David Simon echoed the Business Council of Australia’s call for COAG to complete the seamless national economy reforms, including its reforms to road transport regulation.

"Our members are particularly concerned that the national regulator could end up duplicating the existing state regulators rather than replacing them. We could effectively end up with nine regulators, not eight," he says.

"State ministers and regulatory bodies need to be prepared to give up all their responsibilities in areas where it is clear the national regulator can provide a robust and transparent mechanism that meets community and industry needs, particularly around safety and productivity."

Governments expect $7 billion of the $12 billion in economic benefits from the national truck laws to come from improving the industry’s productivity by increasing the use of safer vehicles with greater capacity like B-doubles and B-triples.

"But the road access measures in the draft laws are not strong enough to deliver the expected productivity gains," according to Simon.

"There’s no point getting on with the reforms without fixing these issues at the same time, because otherwise we’ll have a regulator that duplicates the existing state agencies and can’t do its job properly and fairly."

Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Managing Director Michael Kilgariff put the onus on business leaders to put the case for uniform regulation forcefully to ministers.

"If we don’t grasp this opportunity to cut cross-border red tape which stifles industry productivity, the knock on effect will be felt by businesses and consumers who won’t be able to benefit from cheaper goods that could be achieved through more efficient supply chains," Kilgariff says.

"From a broader perspective, this reform will help keep the lid on inflation, which also assists in keeping interest rates down.

"Furthermore, it simply doesn’t make sense for the taxpayer to support new investments in infrastructure, or for business to invest in public private partnerships, if the states and territories can preserve cross-border inconsistencies which affects the overall efficiency of the transport network.

"ALC is calling on COAG to act in the national interest and throw its full weight behind this critical reform and to do the work necessary to see regulators ‘with teeth’ come into effect on 1 January 2013.

"The signing of the Intergovernmental Agreements in August last year was a positive step, but all jurisdictions must maintain the momentum and continue down the path of national regulatory reform in the transport sector."

Toll Managing Director Brian Kruger took to the national media to push for the loosening of red tape and avoidance bureaucratic impediments to reform.

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