Give us more power, NTC says

By: Chris Smith

The National Transport Commission (NTC) wants to be granted new and widespread powers to influence transport policy and key regulatory

The National Transport Commission (NTC) wants to be granted new and widespread powers to influence transport policy and key regulatory reforms.

In its submission to a review of the future of the NTC, the government body claims it needs to play a significant role in advising governments and extending its influence to all modes of passenger and freight transport.

According to the NTC, granting it whole-of-reform powers on regulatory and operational reforms and ‘strategic’ policy and planning advice is essential to improving the transport industry.

It says it is currently limited in its role and it needs to be the body responsible for advising governments and bureaucratic departments on policy direction.

"Limiting the NTC’s scope to regulatory reform does not allow it to fully develop responses to current and emerging issues," the NTC says.

Its submission warns governments that failing to expand the NTC’s powers may result in much-needed national reforms stalling, in turn affecting productivity and efficiency.

"Failing to keep up the pace of reform can also create the risk of the benefits from previous reforms dissipating and industry to backslide," the submission says.

The NTC’s submission says its ability to build relationships by consulting stakeholders and its "significant body of corporate knowledge" should also be key reasons to allow it to offer "broad strategic advice" to the Australian Transport Council (ATC) and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The Bus Industry Confederation agrees with the expansion of the NTC’s powers in the absence of a strategic passenger transport policy through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

BIC Executive Director Michael Apps suggests the problems arise through a lack of communication between bureaucrats who liaise with the NTC and the ATC but fail to consult with their own state departments or industry stakeholders.

"It is clearly a case of not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing," he tells ABC.

"It is very easy to use the NTC as the states whipping boy however, states should also wear the responsibility of implementing legislation."

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese earlier this year announced a review into the NTC as part of a requirement to evaluate it every six years.

Albanese named a three-person review team which will present its findings to the ATC in May.

The ATC will consider the report when it meets in June or July, with the final report to be considered in September.

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