AFTER more than a century of failed attempts and following five years of intensive negotiations and consultations, Australia is only months away from historic reforms that will slash red tape for transport operators, free up the movement of interstate trade and boost national income by $30 billion over the next 20 years.
On January 1 next year, the nation's $61 billion transport industry will enter a new era.
Gone will be the existing 23 separate state and federal regulators covering heavy vehicles, rail safety and maritime safety, along with their costly and confusing array of regulations, replaced by just three national regulators administering one set of modern, nationwide laws.
The 2012-13 Budget allocates a further $38 million over three years to finalise the implementation and to bed down this long sought-after micro-economic reform.
This is in addition to the $33.6 million that has been previously provided.
The funding will go towards:
Establishment of the new Brisbane-based heavy vehicle regulator with responsibility for registration and regulations applying to trucks and buses over 4.5 tonnes ($15.6 million);
Establishment of the new rail safety regulator in Adelaide with oversight of the country's urban passenger rail networks and interstate freight operations ($9.2 million).
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will become the national rail accident investigator;
Extension of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's regulatory responsibilities to cover all commercial vessels, not just those involved in interstate and international trade ($10.2 million).
Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory will this financial year (2011-12) receive a further $1 million each to assist with the costs of implementing the new national regulations.
The transport industry is the cornerstone of the Australian economy without which our supermarket shelves would quickly empty and much of our exports would remain in the ground, on the farm or at the factory.
Soon they will have the common-sense laws and regulations which will support rather than hinder the efforts of operators to grow their businesses and make a decent living.