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Width of trucks likely to hinder national regulator: Feds

The Victorian and NSW Governments are at loggerheads over the set width of trucks exceeding 4.5 tonnes

By Michael House
| February 19, 2010

A disagreement over the width of heavy vehicles between the Victorian and New South Wales Governments has the potential to de-stable talks over a national road regulator, a Federal Government secretary says.

Addressing a senate committee last week the secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport Mike Mrdak says states and territories were refusing to budge on their ability to regulate access to their roads.

In October last year all state, territory and federal governments agreed to establish a national regulators for the road, rail and maritime industries.

All trucks over 4.5 tonnes would be subject to one set of national laws instead of eight separate sets of laws.

But now Mrdak says bickering between two of the major states in the agreement could make a national regulator very hard to achieve for the trucking industry.

“Individual jurisdictions retain and very much guard their ability to manage their own regulatory requirements for access tot heir road network,” Mrdak says.

“NSW has a very some very firm views on the width [sic], particularly on secondary roads in western NSW,” Mrdak says.

“My understanding is that they retain the view that they will not adopt the Victorian approach.”

Citing a dispute between the two states over the maximum width of vehicles carrying hay. Victoria currently has a width of three metres while NSW’s is 2.5 metres.

Mrdak says it is vital all parties involved in national regulator discussions agree on all levels of the new laws.

“We are going to have to convince jurisdictions to effectively say that, where the national regulator sets a permitted weight or width, the jurisdiction must allow that access onto the road network,” he says.

But he warns it will not be easy to do this.

“This will be one of the more difficult negotiations that the Commonwealth and the states have ever entered into, because it goes to the heart of the control of pavement by state road authorities- and their asset management practices,” Mrdak says

ATN attempted to contact the Road Traffic Authority in NSW, which says it will be available to comment on the issue next week. A Vic Roads spokesperson did not return comment.

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