FEDERAL BUDGET: AMSA gets lion's share of funds

Rudd Government bankrolls national transport regulators, but maritime sector gets most of the funding

By Brad Gardner | May 12, 2010

The Rudd Government has made a financial commitment to establishing national transport regulators, but the majority of funds will go to the maritime sector.

The federal Budget allocates $8.3 million to help bankroll an overhaul to regulations in the heavy vehicle, rail and maritime industries.

Once established in 2013, the regulators will replace the inconsistent state-based systems, cutting administrative and compliance costs.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will receive $5.1 million to take on the responsibility of all commercial vessels.

The Budget allocates $2.3 million to set up project teams in the jurisdictions which will host the rail and heavy vehicle regulator.

"The national heavy vehicle regulator will be established in Queensland and the national rail safety regulator in South Australia," budget papers say.

Although it will be based in Queensland, the heavy vehicle regulator will have offices around the country.

While welcoming the funding, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says more money will be needed to ensure the regulator can operate effectively.

The group wants the regulator to conduct national chain of responsibility investigations.

"Our 2010 industry issues survey showed that 70 per cent of trucking operators consider stronger chain of responsibility laws to be a priority safety issue," ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says.

"With enforcement by a national regulator, these laws will ensure that companies and the industry’s customers can be held to account if their actions, inactions or demands threaten safety."

National transport regulations were agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) as part of efforts to improve cross-border consistency.

The heavy vehicle regulator will be responsible for aligning regulations for trucks and buses over 4.5 tonnes.

"For example, even after two decades of incremental progress truck drivers still face small but important differences between the existing state-based regimes, particularly around enforcement standards, driving hours and mass limits," Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says.

"The new national regulator will end these costly, frustrating and confusing variations once and for all."

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook