Governments still trying to modify national regs

Nation's top bureaucrat says some jurisdictions are insisting on variations to national heavy vehicle regulations

By Brad Gardner | February 19, 2013

Jurisdictions are still fighting to put their own touches on national heavy vehicle regulations before they take full effect on July 1, the nation’s top transport bureaucrat has confirmed.

At a recent Senate estimates hearing, Department of Infrastructure and Transport Secretary Mike Mrdak told senators some jurisdictions want to apply "some modifications" to the regulations. He says the Federal Government is working to minimise the extent of the changes.

During proceedings, Nationals Senator John Williams noted a problem afflicting a transport company in New South Wales that carries electricity poles across the border into Queensland. He says a sign banned from being placed on the truck in NSW must be attached when the company’s trucks cross into Queensland to comply with that state’s laws.

"It will not surprise you that there are some jurisdictions that are still insisting on some variations like that," Mrdak responded.

Queensland is the only jurisdiction to have passed national regulations. The remaining states and territories, except Western Australia, are due to pass legislation in the coming months so national regulations are operating on July 1.

Mrdak says governments have made significant strides in developing national regulations and that they will be a "huge benefit" to trucking operators.

Western Australia has so far resisted requests to hand over its regulatory responsibilities to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). Mrdak says the state has reached a view of maintaining a different regime to the rest of the country.

"That is a position that we are trying to dissuade them from, but I think that remains their position at this stage," he says.

Western Australia Transport Minister Troy Buswell has reiterated the state’s unwillingness to give up its existing regulatory schemes, such as those relating fatigue management, mass limits, vehicle dimensions and accreditation.

In recent statements made to ATN, he has also questioned the worth of national regulations to Western Australia.

"WA’s existing heavy vehicle regulatory system is highly efficient and responsive to WA’s unique heavy vehicle operating environment. Many of the benefits to be achieved through the NHVR have a marginal impact on the majority of WA industry primarily running intrastate operations," he says.

"WA remains committed to the principle that we will only adopt national regulatory regimes where they are demonstrated to be in the best interests of this state."

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