Productivity Commission to tackle freight transport reforms

ALC backs move and sees chance to sweat existing framework harder

Productivity Commission to tackle freight transport reforms
Michael McCormack


The Productivity Commission (PC) has been tasked with reviewing national transport reforms to ensure they are delivering national productivity benefits and safety.

According to federal transport minister Michael McCormack, economic impacts of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms to establish the national maritime regulator, the national heavy vehicle regulator and the national rail safety regulator and investigation system are in the request of the Commission.

"With many COAG transport reforms in place and operating for a number of years, now is the time to examine whether they are working in a way which boosts productivity and promotes safety," McCormack says.

"These reforms, which established a national regulatory system, were designed to provide productivity gains for the economy and reduce the compliance burden on the transport industry by cutting duplication and multiple fees.

"By making sure the reforms are working as they were designed to, we can continue to support the transport industry to create jobs and opportunities for Australians into the future and keep goods moving around the country efficiently and safely.

"It will also help us shape a sensible approach to future regulation which helps truckies, train drivers and transport companies do what they do best while making sure safety remains the top priority."

Read reaction to the Budget spend’s likely effect on transport, here

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) sees the review as a "valuable opportunity to further boost the efficiency and safety of freight movement in Australia".

"With Australia’s national freight task rapidly growing due to population increases and increasing demand for Australia’s export goods, it is critical to ensure the regulatory frameworks around freight transport are delivering the best possible outcomes for the sector and for consumers," ALC CEO Kirk Coningham says.

"ALC research has previously shown a 1 per cent increase in supply chain efficiency is worth $2 billion to the economy. Accordingly, we must take every opportunity to ensure our regulatory settings are enabling efficiency improvements.

"In 2011, a COAG agreement reduced the number of national transport regulators from 23 down to three, in a move that has undoubtedly helped to reduced administrative complexities for freight logistics operators.

"Freight does not stop at state borders. The continued efficiency and safety of freight movement requires a regulatory framework that allows freight logistics professionals to get on with the job without being burdened by duplication and needless costs."

The ALC insists more can be done to boost productivity through existing regulatory frameworks.

"In particular, there is scope for the remit of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) to be expanded to include a productivity remit. This would be consistent with the approach of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR)," Coningham says.

"With this week’s Federal Budget having made significant investments in freight infrastructure and Australia’s capacity to collect and disseminate freight data, today’s announcement of a PC review is especially timely."

The PC is due to report within 12 months of starting and is to undertake consultation and invite public submissions.

More information on the inquiry is available at


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