Albanese moves to give ATSB greater powers

Bill introduced to give the Australian Transport Safety Bureau greater powers to investigate rail safety incidents

Albanese moves to give ATSB greater powers
Albanese moves to give ATSB greater powers
By Brad Gardner | June 27, 2012

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will morph into the country’s first national rail safety investigator under reforms introduced into Federal Parliament today.

The Federal Government today introduced the Transport Safety Investigation Amendment Bill to give the ATSB the power to carry out investigations in all jurisdictions, including extending its role to cover metropolitan railway lines.

The move is designed to support the introduction of the National Rail Safety Regulator on January 1, and Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the Bill will remove limitations on the ATSB.

He says the government agency has been confined to investigating incidents involving interstate rail travel.

"This Bill changes that. For the first time, the ATSB will have responsibility for investigations on the critical metropolitan passenger and freight rail networks," Albanese says.

"This national approach will see more investigations conducted across a greater range of safety matters. It will mean better sharing and implementation of safety findings between states and territories which will save lives and prevent injuries."

The government has also included an amendment to give state and territory transport ministers the ability to request the ATSB to conduct an investigation in their state or territory.

Albanese says an incident involving a death or a significant derailment or collision on a main line will automatically trigger an investigation.

"Further, through assessing data available from all accident and incident notifications, the ATSB will determine whether other occurrences require investigation in order to address emerging hazards and risks," he says.

Albanese believes giving the regulator national jurisdiction will better position it to look at emerging safety trends important to the rail sector.

The Bill also establishes a confidential reporting scheme, which will cover the aviation, maritime and rail industries.

"For rail it will mean the industry will, for the first time, have a national confidential reporting scheme. This will be another important component of the national rail safety system," Albanese says.

The National Rail Safety Regulator, based in South Australia, will replace seven separate regulatory authorities and 46 pieces of state, territory and federal legislation on January 1.

National regulators for the trucking and maritime sectors will also begin at the start of next year, with the changes expected to reap up to $30 billion in savings over the next 20 years.

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