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More delay on national heavy vehicle regulator

Decision on where to establish national truck regulator put off by COAG, road pricing reform go-ahead

The nation’s leaders have put off a decision on where to establish a heavy vehicle regulator, as more details emerge on a new road charging scheme.

Meeting in Brisbane yesterday, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to defer a decision on a single heavy vehicle regulator until at least the first half of 2010.

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have all expressed interest in hosting the regulator, which will be responsible for passing uniform laws and then requiring other jurisdictions to follow.

The government body has, however, agreed to the COAG Road Reform Plan, which will look at the benefits of direct charging.

“Under the plan, a feasibility study for alternative models of road pricing and funding will be completed by December 2011, which should include specific consideration of mass-distance location pricing,” the communiqué from the meeting reads.

COAG also agreed that South Australia should host the national rail safety regulator.

However, government leaders will delay a decision on the single regulator until 2011. It will be “considered”, according to the communiqué.

Government leaders did agree to strengthen the national regulators’ panel during the period a rail regulator is established to improve harmonisation in the sector.

“COAG further agreed to resolve a number of policy, legislation, governance and funding issues in the implementation stage, including the role of state ministers,” the communiqué says.

According to the group, it has taken more steps towards implementing a national system capable of reducing costs and lifting productivity without jeopardising safety.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) last week urged COAG to move ahead on national reforms, which have the potential to slash business costs and increase productivity by abolishing cross-border inconsistencies.

Despite the delay, the National Transport Commission says COAG’s decision shows a real commitment by governments to transport reforms.

“COAG’s decision is an important next step towards a sustainable national transport system with less red tape, higher productivity and better safety outcomes,” NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos says.

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