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WAFarmers slams lack of road reform consultation

Rural lobby unhappy with extra powers proposed for Commissioner of Main Roads


Already smarting from reaction to Perth Freight Link (PFL) proposals, the Western Australian government has now come under fire on proposed roads legislation reform.

With reports surfacing of tensions with the state Nationals over the effect of PFL truck tolls on farmers, lobby group WAFarmers has criticised the proposed Main Roads Amendment Bill 2015 for the increased powers it would confer on roads regulator.

The group points out that the regulator can now impose fees for heavy vehicle users on prescribed routes, increase penalty levels, enhance regulation making powers, impose the ability to clear native vegetation if urgently required without permits, and would allow for the Commissioner of Main Roads to resume private land for environmental offsets and any other reason.

The last point has raised property rights issues with conservative elements in the state.

WAFarmers president Dale Park says the Bill that roads minister Dean Nalder unveiled last week faces a fight from opposition, advocacy groups and individual property owners.

“Minister Nalder has not only introduced a Bill that would give Main Roads an irresponsible amount of power, but would see the legislation passed without going through the proper process and consultation to allow for comment,” Park says of the proposed law his group is still examining.

“The ability of the Main Roads Commissioner to easily acquire and dispose of property will be an attack on farmers’ property rights if the Bill were passed.

“Additionally, the Bill ‘s explanatory memorandum clearly states that the Bill would allow for roads unrelated to the Perth Freight Link to be included on the heavy vehicle charging scheme, which is completely unacceptable.”

Initial WAFarmers concerns related to erosion of property rights, the risk that any road in the state could have a toll imposed on it, and that it was without the checks and balances of Ministerial approval.

It says that given “the lack of consultation before this Bill was introduced, also raises doubts WAFarmers have difficulty believing that any consultation would take place before land was resumed or tolls imposed, if the Bill was passed”.

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