ALC turns to Abbott to drive national reform agenda

ALC turns to Abbott to drive national reform agenda
Tony Abbott

The transport and logistics lobby is turning to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fix fundamental issues undermining national heavy vehicle regulations.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) penned an open letter to Abbott, and copied in chief ministers and premiers, ahead of today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff has asked for the intergovernmental agreement on heavy vehicle regulatory reform, which expires on December 31, to be renewed for two more years and for pressing issues of funding, national consistency and transparency to be taken care of.

He says the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), which will enforce national regulations in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania from February 10 next year, must receive adequate funding from the states.

"The budget and long term revenue stream for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator remains unsettled which undermines the effectiveness of this new body," Kilgariff says.

"Secondly, there needs to be greater pressure exerted at the federal level to ensure we actually achieve a national regulatory framework, rather than a fragmented one which is currently the case."

Kilgariff’s letter notes disappointment over a lack of support from all jurisdictions for the reforms, while specifically citing the ability of NSW to create local regulations as another drawback.

"Thirdly, there needs to be greater transparency in relation to the funding of the new regulator, given industry is to provide the bulk of funds for this scheme on a cost recovery basis," Kilgariff says.

"ALC is calling for the service level agreements between the regulator and the states to be publicly available – only then will industry have the confidence that the Heavy Vehicle National Law is being administered in an efficient manner."

The NHVR is due to reach service level agreements with jurisdictions to permit them to enforce regulations on the NHVR’s behalf.

Kilgariff’s letter claims publication of the agreements is an important accountability mechanism and that arguments against publishing them indicate jurisdictions wish to avoid transparency.

Kilgariff’s letter goes on to request the COAG Reform Council review the operation of national regulations one year after they begin.

"This review would help to identify areas where there are deficiencies in the process and where governments and industry need to work together to address them to maximise the economic benefits of this reform," he says.

"The drive to establish a single national law for heavy vehicles, overseen by a single regulator, must be maintained, otherwise the potential economic benefits from this historic reform will be lost.

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