'Out of step' WA cops heat over regulations

Western Australia accused of being “irrational” and “out of step” over its stance on national heavy vehicle regulations

By Brad Gardner | August 24, 2012

Western Australia has been accused of being "irrational" and "out of step" on national heavy vehicle regulations in a parliamentary spray that has drawn a rebuke from the trucking lobby.

During the passage of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Bill yesterday, Queensland backbencher Alex Douglas took aim at WA for not following the lead of other jurisdictions by signing up to the reforms.

WA has agreed to mirror aspects of the regulations but is refusing to let go of existing schemes relating to fatigue management and productivity. Douglas even blamed the state for the reason why governments needed to implement national reforms.

"It is very disappointing to see the position of the Western Australian Government. Their decision to retain what is their decisive flexibility is the very reason we got into the situation where we needed a National Heavy Vehicle Regulator," Douglas claims.

"They are not only out of step, they are playing a waiting game to see if they can gain a national advantage in their favour. This is inequitable and irrational".

The Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA), which has fought to retain existing state-based schemes, says it is not playing games and that the state’s government is right to take its time considering national regulations.

"The WA Government is right in their caution approach. All we are presently seeing is haste and this will cause irreparable damage to our Industry if this rushing mentality is allowed to gain momentum," WARTA CEO Ian King says.

"It is amazing to read Queensland LNP politician Alex Douglas’s comment stating that Western Australia is "out of step" when we are leading Australia, have higher productivity results with road transport than Queensland and more importantly have a need of only 1.5 percent of the road network out of WA."

King says WA is in a unique position in that it has "virtually no need for the NHVR at this stage".

"Our permitting system under Main Roads WA is excellent. Can the NHVR guarantee a 24-hour permit turnaround? WA can and this is what Industry have demanded and are now receiving," he says.

King says the WA Government has the full support of the state’s transport industry. Except for WA, all states and territories last year signed an inter-governmental agreement on national heavy vehicle regulations. WA Premier Colin Barnett gave in-principle support.

The office of WA Transport Minister Troy Buswell declined to comment when contacted by ATN.

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