National reforms stall as bureaucrats get cold feet

By: Graham Gardiner


Moves to national transport regulations are stalling as jurisdictions fear losing power under a streamlined system. Despite Australia’s transport ministers supporting

Moves to national transport regulations are stalling as jurisdictions fear losing power under a streamlined system.

Despite Australia’s transport ministers supporting national regulations, various states are struggling to reach an agreement on how best to overhaul outdated laws and cross-border inconsistencies.

NatRoad Chief Executive Bernie Belacic says the ambitious plan, which involves each state and territory government addressing a specific area of transport, is threatening to break down because bureaucrats are stoking fears among ministers they will cede power under a new system.

According to Belacic, one set of rules means jurisdictions may not have the ability to dictate issues such as heavy vehicle route access and enforcement practices.

There are currently a host of differences across borders relating to access, weight, mass, loading and enforcement issues.

Belacic says ministers are struggling to marry the need for change with the implications of referring powers.

He says the Federal Government does not have much to lose because transport is predominately the realm of state and territory governments.

"But everyone else has got a lot at stake," Belacic says.

Furthermore, he says state and territory-based bureaucrats are getting "cold feet" because one national system will rid the need of multiple agencies in different jurisdictions.

As such, ministers are being told to go slow on the reform process as self-interest overrides moves to slash redtape.

Belacic questions whether the ministers will be able to reach an agreed framework by July 1 next year, saying it may be very broad but lacking substance.

The key reforms are centred on one system of regulation, registration and licensing, climate change, skills shortages, safety and efforts to improve supply chain efficiency.

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