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Timetable for national regulations ‘at risk’

COAG Reform Council warns timetable for national heavy vehicle regulations "may be at risk" due to unresolved issues

By Brad Gardner | November 18, 2011

The body responsible for monitoring government efforts on national heavy vehicle regulations claims the introduction date for the reforms is at risk of slipping due to a number of unresolved issues.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council’s latest progress report notes significant steps have been made to secure a single set of trucking regulations but “the timeframe for completion of these reforms may be at risk”.

Queensland this week introduced the Heavy Vehicle National Law Bill into its parliament to kick-start the shift to a national scheme, but governments still have a set of milestones to achieve before it begins on January 1, 2013.

“We have raised some concern that full implementation of the transport reforms may be at risk of delay as there is still detailed work yet to be completed and there are few interim milestones left to be assessed,” COAG Reform Council Communications Manager Megan Towill says.

She says an agreement on transitional arrangements needs to be reached, which is scheduled for next month, while there is a commitment to get the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator up and running by July 2012 or no later than December.

Towill says governments have also committed to implementing the national law and a one-stop-shop for permits, registration and road access applications by December next year. The NHVR is also due to reach service agreements with the states and territories in the same month.

“We also note that the intergovernmental agreement on heavy vehicle regulatory reform has not yet been formally signed by Western Australia,” she says.

“We consider that setting more milestones in the implementation plan would help to ensure that the reforms stay on track, good progress continues and the possibility of delay is minimised.”

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has given in-principle support to national regulations, but the state has remained steadfast in demanding its fatigue management scheme and vehicle access conditions remain.

Queensland is due to pass the Bill before the end of March next year, with other jurisdictions then enacting similar legislation to ensure cross-border consistency.

Transport ministers earlier this month all agreed on the Bill, which will be followed by a second package of amendments in mid-2012 to resolve outstanding issues.

Under national regulations, the NHVR will be able to strike service agreements with state and territory officers to enforce the regulations on its behalf. The regulator will be free to appoint an officer as long as it is satisfied they have the expertise and experience to do the job.

According to the Bill, any authority acting on the regulator’s behalf will need to carry identity cards to prove they are authorised to enforce national regulations. The provisions do not apply to police officers, despite industry calls for the force to be made accountable to the regulator.

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