Feb 10, 2014

Transport enters new borderless age

HISTORIC trucking industry reforms delivered by Labor and expected to save the economy $30 billion over the next 20 years take effect today.

After years of confusion and costly red tape, all trucks, buses and other vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes come under the new Heavy Vehicle National Law, creating the nation’s first national regulatory system.

Previously, transport companies and owner drivers faced a bewildering array of regulations which differed from state to state, adding to business costs and administrative burdens.

Under the new arrangement, brokered with state governments by Labor, the transport industry will come under the control of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

The regulator will be responsible for permits as well as implementing rigorous safety standards.

These will include new work diary arrangements for managing driver fatigue – a key road safety issue.

The change was part of Labor’s seamless economy reforms – designed to reduce the cost of doing business across state jurisdictions.

While Western Australia and the Northern Territory have yet to sign on, Labor welcomes the Abbott’s Government’s undertaking that it will continue to negotiate with the pair to deliver a truly national system.

However, Labor notes with concern that the Government’s decision to review the existence of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, established to ensure truck drivers are not pressured to speed or avoid rest breaks because of poor pay or conditions.

The tribunal is a critical arm of road safety policy and should not be sacrificed as part of Tony Abbott’s politically motivated assault on anything linked with trade unions or the previous Labor Government.

The tribunal was established only in July, 2012, after extensive consultation and unanimous parliamentary report – Burning the Midnight Oil.