Historic reforms which will slash red tape for transport operators, free up the movement on interstate trade and boost national income by $30 billion over the next two decades come into effect today.
As of today, the new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator located in Brisbane and the new, Adelaide-based National Rail Safety Regulator, are both open for business. This is culmination of more than five years of intensive negotiations between the Federal and State and Territory Governments.
The third national regulator, the existing Australian Maritime Safety Authority, will assume its greater regulatory responsibilities for all commercial vessels operating in our waters in March.
By the end of this year, the existing 23 separate State and Federal regulators covering heavy vehicles, rail safety and maritime safety, along with their costly and confusing array of regulations, will be gone. In their places will be just these three national bodies each administering one set of modern, nationwide laws.
More than a century after Federation, Australia will finally have a truly national transport system.
The transport industry is the cornerstone of the Australian economy without which our supermarket shelves would quickly empty and much of our exports would remain in the ground, on the farm or at the factory. That’s why this Labor Government has been pursuing common-sense reforms which will support rather than hinder the efforts of operators to grow their businesses and make a decent living.
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator
Based in Brisbane, this new body will have responsibility for registration and regulations covering all heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes. It will be fully operational by July once all State and Territory Governments have passed the necessary enabling legislation through their respective parliaments.
Once that process is complete, many practical benefits will begin to flow, including:
- Long distance truck drivers will no longer need worry about whether their vehicle or load is still legal as they cross state and territory borders, or whether they have met the multitude of requirements which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction;
- A greater uniformity in road access arrangements, making it easier for drivers to find a suitable rest stop or negotiate minor roads to reach refuelling points;
- A national approach to heavy vehicle configuration which will improve access for road trains to key roads linking the States and reduce the need for multiple or inefficient trips; and
- A universal interpretation of when drivers should start counting driving hours from rest breaks within a 24 hour period, eliminating the confusion around existing fatigue laws.
National Rail Safety Regulator
Based in Adelaide, this new body will initially have regulatory responsibility for railways in South Australia, NSW, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. This will extend to those in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia before the end of the year.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has become the national rail accident investigator.
These reforms will mean:
- Operators will only pay a single annual accreditation fee covering all operations (locally and nationally), particularly benefiting the one third of them which operate in more than one jurisdiction;
- A single national safety compliance approach which will replace the inconsistent process of multiple audits, auditors, and outcomes under the various state based regulators; and
- A nationally consistent rail communication and signalling system will replace the 22 existing systems.
The reform is expected to generate gross cost savings for rail operators of around $16 million per year (on-going).
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.