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Get transport reforms right

11 April 2012

Australia’s governments need to get on with reforms to road transport regulation – but more importantly, they need to get them right, the Chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, David Simon, said today.

Mr Simon was responding to the Business Council of Australia’s call for COAG to complete the seamless national economy reforms, including its reforms to road transport regulation.

Mr Simon said Australia’s governments needed to get on with the reforms, but also needed to get them right.

“Our members are particularly concerned that the national regulator could end up duplicating the existing state regulators rather than replacing them. We could effectively end up with nine regulators, not eight,” Mr Simon said.

“State ministers and regulatory bodies need to be prepared to give up all their responsibilities in areas where it is clear the national regulator can provide a robust and transparent mechanism that meets community and industry needs, particularly around safety and productivity.”

He said the ATA and the state road agencies had identified more than a thousand issues with the draft national laws.

“With the support of our members, we convinced Australia’s transport ministers to develop a second piece of legislation to fix some of the problems with the first, but serious problems remain,” Mr Simon said.

“For example, directors, executives, partners and managers of unincorporated businesses will automatically commit an offence against the laws if their business commits an offence. These specific provisions need to be rewritten to support the presumption of innocence, in addition to the broader reforms to directors’ liability that are needed.
Governments expect $7 billion of the $12 billion in economic benefits from the national truck laws to come from improving the industry’s productivity by increasing the use of safer vehicles with greater capacity like B-doubles and B-triples.

“But the road access measures in the draft laws are not strong enough to deliver the expected productivity gains,” Mr Simon said.

“There’s no point getting on with the reforms without fixing these issues at the same time, because otherwise we’ll have a regulator that duplicates the existing state agencies and can’t do its job properly and fairly,” he said.