We've come a long way in the last 20 years, but there's still work to do.
It's hard to believe that two decades have gone by since the National Transport Commission was established in 1991 (the same year Big Rigs first set up shop!).
Known back then as the National Road Transport Commission, the purpose of the commission was to improve the safety and efficiency of the road transport system for the benefit of all Australians.
A few things have changed since we were first formed - our name of course, when rail and intermodal transport were added to our mandate in 2004.
Also, our organisation's mission has evolved over the years to include an explicit role in implementation of reforms and minimising the impact of transport on the environment.
However, what hasn't changed is our commitment to improving the way our transport industry is regulated to maximise the safety and the efficiency of our supply chains, and minimise unnecessary red tape.
You may say that the transport industry is still suffering from too much red tape and that raising productivity and safety is still a major challenge.
I agree - there is still a long way to go.
However, looking back, there is also much to be proud of.
Through the collaborative efforts of the NTC, government and industry, the heavy vehicle industry is in much better shape than it was two decades ago.
I'd like to share with you a few examples of how I believe our work has made a positive impact over the last 20 years:
Chain of Responsibility (COR) - the introduction of COR legislation in 2003 was an important advance in improving the way heavy vehicle regulations are enforced.
Rather than pursue the soft target on the roadside - truck drivers and operators - authorities can now investigate along the supply chain, and up and down the corporate chain of command.
This in turn creates a fairer system and improves compliance.
High productivity vehicles - with the freight task set to triple over the next 20 years, high productivity vehicles will have an increasingly important role to play.
The introduction of B-doubles, B-triples, higher mass limits reform and the performance-based standards scheme are examples of how the NTC has worked towards the introduction of more innovative, productive heavy vehicles.
National Road Rules, in-service Vehicle Standards and the Dangerous Goods Code - 20 years ago, we didn't have a set of national road rules or national in-service vehicle standards, or a national dangerous goods code for road and rail transport like the kind in place today.
The presence of eight separate regulatory regimes caused many a headache for those travelling or operating interstate.
National Ports Strategy - the NTC is assisting Infrastructure Australia with developing Australia's first National Ports Strategy in consultation with governments and industry.
This will work to create a more efficient ports system and make long truck queues at our ports a thing of the past.
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator - the holy grail of heavy vehicle transport reform, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, will soon become a reality, with a national set of laws to be in force from January 2013.
These achievements highlight just how important it is for Australia to have an independent body such as the NTC which can provide balanced, evidence-based advice on current and future challenges.
With your support, I am confident that we can build upon these achievements and continue to improve transport regulation to create a safer, more efficient and internationally competitive transport industry.
'However, looking back, there is also much to be proud of'
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