Nov 6, 2009

Single national regulators for transport to cut red tape

Single national regulators for transport to cut red tape

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

November 6 2009

Sweeping reforms to the way Australia regulates its vital transport sector is closer than ever before, with all the nation’s transport ministers today agreeing to arrangements for single national regulators in rail, maritime and heavy vehicles.

The Australian Transport Council has agreed that South Australia would become the host jurisdiction for the national rail safety regulator.

Offices of the national regulator will be established in each state and territory to manage the day-to-day regulation of local urban systems and interstate freight operations.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – which is based in Canberra – has been agreed as the national regulator for maritime safety, with responsibility for regulating all commercial vessels.

On heavy vehicles, Transport Ministers agreed to recommend to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) that a host jurisdiction for the national regulator be agreed, noting that New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have expressed an interest.

The regulator will be responsible for aligning the rules and regulations applying vehicles over 4.5 tonnes, helping to improve the safety and productivity of the trucking industry.

The recommendations of the Australian Transport Council will now be considered by COAG at its next meeting.

The full Communiqué below.

Joint Communiqué

6 November 2009

Transport Ministers from the Commonwealth, States and Territories, together with representatives from New Zealand and the Australian Local Government Association, met in Sydney today as the Australian Transport Council (ATC) to further consider a range of national transport regulatory reforms and initiatives.

National Transport Policy and Regulatory Reforms

ATC considered progress in the implementation of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) 2 July 2009 decisions about national regulation for maritime safety, rail safety and heavy vehicles. It will be providing to COAG encouraging reports of the cooperation between transport agencies noting the further work still required and the good progress to date in light of the challenging deadlines.

Further, ATC agreed to recommend to COAG that South Australia would be the host jurisdiction for the national rail safety regulator.

ATC also agreed to recommend to COAG that a host jurisdiction for the national heavy vehicle regulator be agreed, noting that New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have expressed interest.

It was agreed that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will be the national regulator for maritime safety, responsible for regulating commercial vessels. This is a significant step towards national uniformity.

ATC considered the detailed work plan to enable delivery of pricing elements of the COAG Road Reform Plan and agreed to refer the plan for COAG’s consideration, as requested. The work plan provides a framework which ensures a full understanding is obtained of the necessary elements and implications of any proposed new pricing framework on the heavy vehicle sector.

Taxi Driver Training – National Minimum Standards Framework

ATC endorsed core National Taxi Driver Competency Units and agreed to their implementation along with the implementation of a National Minimum English Standard from 1 July 2010. This work complements the broader COAG work to improve occupational licensing across Australia.

Australian Disability Parking Scheme

ATC endorsed a new, consistent Australian Disability Parking Permit which will be rolled out nation-wide from 2010 to 900,000 current permit holders. The permit design had also been agreed by the Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference in September 2009. ATC also noted that work is continuing on the development of national minimum standards for parking concessions and eligibility criteria under the Australian Disability Parking Scheme, expected to be fully implemented by 2012.

National Road Safety Strategy

ATC agreed to propose a new National Road Safety Strategy for the period 2011 to 2020. This will set an ambitious, long-term vision for road safety improvement and adopt explicit national targets for reductions in deaths and serious injuries, with progress to be assessed in terms of actual safety outcomes, as well as appropriate indicators of program implementation.

At the Prime Minister’s request, ATC discussed the issue of driver training and education. ATC agreed that measures to improve novice driver safety will be a valuable element of the work undertaken as part of the National Road Safety Strategy. Ministers also noted several current safety initiatives for novice drivers, including jurisdictional graduated licensing schemes, the P Driver project led by VicRoads and the Australian Government’s $17 million keys2drive program. ATC endorsed a proposal for national stakeholder consultation on an ambitious speed management vision consistent with Safe System principles that will form an important component of the new Strategy.

National Road Safety Council

ATC has today announced the appointment of seven top safety experts to the recently established National Road Safety Council. The Council’s immediate task will be to advise governments on the development of the next 10-year National Road Safety Strategy, a long term vision for road safety improvements.

The Council will be chaired by Mr Roger Cook AM, the current chair of the South Australian Motor Accident Commission. The other members are:

  • Emeritus Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik – Former Dean, Indigenous Research and Education, Charles Darwin University
  • Ms Ann Bunnell – Chair, Australian Foundation of the Alliance for Healthy Cities
  • Ms Freda Crucitti – President, Australian Automobile Association
  • Mr Wayne Gardner AM – Former world motorcycle racing champion
  • Dr Soames Job – Director, NSW Centre for Road Safety, Roads and Traffic Authority
  • Professor Ian Johnston AM – Deputy Chairman, National Transport Commission

The ATC has also appointed four Road Safety Ambassadors:

  • Lindsay Fox – trucking operator;
  • David Wirrpanda – former AFL player;
  • Mel Doyle – co-host of the Sunrise program; and
  • Neil Mitchell – radio presenter.

Railway Level Crossing Safety Strategy

ATC agreed to adopt a new Railway Level Crossing Safety Strategy (2010-2020). This initiative builds on the improvements in Australian standards and legislation affecting level crossings from existing measures, contributing to the significant task in reducing crossing incidents and their severe consequences. It will retain a focus on practical approaches to reduce crashes and near misses at level crossings, including consideration of potential warning devices, best practice in camera-based enforcement, and implementing nationally consistent speed reductions on approaches. The initiative will complement the new National Road Safety Strategy and better align road and rail safety.

National Surface Transport Security Strategy

ATC endorsed the National Surface Transport Security Strategy. This provides a high level framework for a nationally consistent approach by Governments to preventive security in surface transport systems. It is consistent with the Intergovernmental Agreement on Surface Transport Security signed by all Australian Governments in 2005 and complements national counter-terrorism and emergency management arrangements.

Other Initiatives

ATC considered progress on initiatives to promote integrated decision-making on urban congestion. It set a national deadline in 2010 to finalise national urban transport performance indicators that can measure the efficiency, reliability, productivity and social and environmental performance of urban transport systems.

ATC endorsed a Strategic Action Plan for workforce planning and skills that will be finalised in early 2010 and endorsed an Australian Strategic Transportation Agenda for Research and Technology to strengthen technology innovation in national transport systems.

ATC also endorsed further research to inform government policy of the potential to improve safety outcomes through technology-based solutions. In particular, research has been commissioned to determine benefits associated with emerging vehicle technologies, including intelligent speed adaptation.

ATC also noted the range of work underway to improve the environmental sustainability of transport. This includes the development of action plans under the transport sections of COAG’s National Strategy on Energy Efficiency and the impending conduct on 9 November in Melbourne of a National Eco-driving Symposium. The Symposium is a joint event by government, industry and roads associations and will ensure improved understanding of this low cost tool which motorists and transport operators can employ to reduce their fuel costs and improve environmental outcomes.

National Standards for the Administration for Maritime Safety

The ATC agreed to a standard for the administration of marine safety regarding the survey of vessels. This standard provides the practical technical details for implementing the new national survey regime under the proposed single national maritime safety regulation reform and it will become effective by reference under the Commonwealth Navigation Act, once the national reform takes effect.

National Transport Commission Review

ATC considered and endorsed the findings and recommendations of the Review of the National Transport Commission undertaken by the independent steering committee chaired by Mr Bruce Wilson AM, former Director-General of Queensland Transport. The Review recommendations aim to strengthen NTC’s capacity to lead and deliver effective transport regulatory reform in Australia. Ministers agreed a response to the review which will be forwarded to COAG for consideration.

The ATC meeting was attended by:

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government (Commonwealth) 
The Hon David Campbell MP Minister for Transport (New South Wales)
The Hon Lynne Kosky MP Minister for Public Transport (Victoria)
The Hon Tim Pallas MP Minister for Roads and Ports (Victoria)
The Hon Rachael Nolan MP Minister for Transport (Queensland)
The Hon Craig Wallace MP Minister for Main Roads (Queensland)
The Hon Michael O’Brien MP Minister for Road Safety (South Australia)
The Hon Simon O’Brien MLC Minister for Transport (Western Australia)
The Hon Gerald McCarthy MLA Minister for Transport (Northern Territory)
Mr Paul Bell Board Member, representing Cr Geoff Lake (Australian Local Government Association)