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Pressure mounts, but WA won’t budge on national regs

WARTA insists Western Australia is better off without national regulations but says pressure is building on the State to relent

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | July 15, 2013

Pressure continues to mount on Western Australia to sign up to national heavy vehicle regulations, but the State’s peak trucking representative group maintains existing regulatory schemes are best.

Western Australian Road Transport Association (WARTA) CEO Ian King (pictured) says the State is being attacked for not letting go of existing provisions relating to fatigue management and productivity.

“Every month there’s more and more pressure about joining up,” King says.

“We had [federal Infrastructure and Transport] Minister Anthony Albanese coming over and making some very serious threats that we would become signatory to it.”

Western Australia remains the only jurisdiction to not agree to national regulations, which are due to take effect in the rest of the country on September 1 and be overseen by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

King says WARTA members are happy to work with the NHVR on initiatives as long as it does not involve letting go of existing schemes.

“We are very keen to keep pushing the safety message, and if they’ve got initiatives let’s do it together. But don’t impose what you’re trying to do in the eastern states,” King says.

“Fatigue is the biggest issue. We do not want to run the risk of losing that if we become a signatory to it.”

King says the association has the full support of the State Government and the Opposition.

“They are both singing off the same song sheet. The premier will be driving the hardest deal that’s best for WA and what’s best for WA is not to be a signatory.”

Victorian Opposition MP Khalil Eideh earlier this year criticised Western Australia for rejecting national regulations and urged the Victorian Government to lobby the State to change its mind.

“When I was growing up we all used to believe very strongly that the most unsound and uncooperative political leader in Australia was then Premier of Queensland Joh Bjelke-Petersen,” Eideh told Victorian Parliament during debate on a bill to adopt national regulations.

“Now we have the Premier of Western Australia [Colin Barnett] who seems to believe that his state can do as it wishes and the rest of the nation be damned.”

Queensland MP Alex Douglas also took aim at Western Australia, accusing it of being “irrational” and “out of step”.

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