Mixed reaction as NTC blows budget

By: Chris Smith

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has blown a hole in its operating budget amid a mixed reaction from industry stakeholders

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has blown a hole in its operating budget amid a mixed reaction from industry stakeholders on its performance.

The NTC’s annual report shows costs exceeded budget in all departments, with a significant increase in its strategic activities.

Although compliance and maintenance expenditure only slightly increased, there was a big jump in costs to the safety and environment and the economics and productivity departments.

The annual report says the increase is due to the growth in project scope and fulfilling work program objectives, with expenses totalling just over $8 million last financial year compared to $7.9 million in 2006-07.

However, the NTC has suffered a drop in standing among stakeholders, with only 34 percent surveyed saying projects are delivered on time.

Stakeholders also felt the NTC did not effectively monitor reform implementation, with only 42 percent agreeing it was effective.

The report says this reflects government priorities, staff resource constraints and industry frustration with cross-border inconsistencies with transport reforms.

There has, however, been a 2 percent increase among stakeholders' approval of the NTC’s performance.

"According to the National Transport Commission’s external stakeholder survey, 62 percent of stakeholders rated NTC’s performance as 'very good' (up from 60 percent in 2007)," the report says.

There has also been a 5 percent increase in number of stakeholders saying the NTC performs its mandated function, with the survey recording a 72 percent approval rating.

The NTC says the annual report shows it has been a busy and challenging year based on the development of a national transport policy framework, an agreement on the Performance Based Standards (PBS) scheme, the introduction of fatigue management and the approval of greater heavy vehicle charges.

"NTC thanks all stakeholders for their constructive and cooperative contribution to these reforms throughout the year," NTC Chief Executive Nick Dimopoulos says.

"We remain committed to a continuing partnership with governments, business and the community to deliver good public policy and the best possible transport outcomes for Australia."

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