Author: Bus Industry Confederation (BIC)
A rolling stone gathers no moss, but sometimes it rolls so slowly that moss is just possible.
That has certainly been the experience as we continue to advocate on behalf of the fantastic bus and coach industry on two very significant reforms that could change the way we do business.
The first and slowest progressing reform is to the National Heavy Vehicle Law which applies to all jurisdictions except Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The initial stage of this reform process commenced in March 2019 with the release of seven issues papers for public consultation. BIC, with the assistance of representatives from across the industry, provided detailed responses to these issues papers. In June 2020, we responded to a consultation regulatory impact statement (RIS) which further detailed options for reform.
In May 2021, the Infrastructure and Transport Ministers considered the recommendations presented to them by the National Transport Commission (NTC) and the reform rolled into the next stage. The BIC actively engaged in industry consultation on the next stage, but the wheels quickly fell off when the NTC released its first paper on fatigue management which could have financially destroyed many trucking businesses. To rescue the reforms, the ministers appointed independent adviser Ken Kanofski to lead the consultation with industry and governments to identify a way forward. BIC has actively participated in all consultations and meetings, acting as the lone voice for the bus and coach industry among a plethora of truck organisations and companies.
Ministers accepted the recommendations of Kanofski last August and in June this year endorsed a decision RIS which contained 14 recommendations that will form the foundation of the future law to deliver more effective and flexible regulation, improvements to safety and productivity and streamline governance and administration.
Consultation is again underway with the NTC working on reforms that will be covered by the new law and others that will sit outside the law in regulation and other instruments. As part of this process, we have been speaking with the newly established Reform Implementation Steering Committee which is made up of some of the most senior transport officials in Australia. We are also waiting to respond to yet another consultation RIS later this year.
Ministers have an “aspirational goal of having a package of legislation and core regulations for approval in July 2024”.
The other slow-moving reform is to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport – another two-stage reform process with the consultation process for stage one kicking off in February 2021. BIC, working with our members, was heavily involved in the consultation and delivered a comprehensive submission on the 16 reform areas. Ministers confirmed the first tranche of 16 reform options in February 2022 and quickly released the next tranche of 60 reform options for consultation. This included reform proposals which would have significant implications for suppliers and operators. Our submission was comprehensive and highly detailed.
The ministers have endorsed the stage two Decision RIS in June 2023 and have now referred it to the Attorney General for approval. If approved, the new Standard may be released in late 2024. How and when will be a decision for the respective state and territory governments. BIC will advocate for harmonisation between the different jurisdictions as the last thing the industry needs or wants is each state implementing new standards in different years.
If you want to learn more about these reforms and what they mean for your business, come to the BIC National Industry Conference in Adelaide from October 29 to November 1, 2023. More information is available at https://bic.asn.au/conference/.