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Major steps in transport reform

MAJOR DECISIONS: Richard Hancock from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
MAJOR DECISIONS: Richard Hancock from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

A SECOND meeting of the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure was held in South Australia last month to consider a range of major transport reforms.

The standing council includes transport, infrastructure and planning ministers from the Commonwealth, states and territories, New Zealand and the Australian Local Government Association.

Ministers took several major decisions to advance the historic reform process that will see the establishment of national heavy vehicle, rail safety and maritime safety regulators from January 1, 2013.

They unanimously agreed to the national law to establish the Australian Maritime Safety Authority as the national maritime regulator of domestic commercial vessels.

The national law is set to be introduced to Federal Parliament in the coming session.

Ministers congratulated the South Australian minister and the National Rail Safety Regulator Project Office on the passing of the rail safety national law through the South Australian parliament.

They noted the significance of this milestone in the move to establish the National Rail Safety Regulator, noting NSW will continue its current approaches to fatigue management and drug and alcohol testing as part of the national regulations.

Robin Stewart-Crompton, Coral Taylor, Peter Garske and Vince Tremaine were appointed to the National Heavy Regulator Board which is chaired by Bruce Baird.

They bring a wealth of skills and experience to the board, including extensive transport, business and finance expertise and strong leadership. An announcement on the CEO is expected soon.

Ministers also agreed to release the National Transport Commission's charging model in a format that is user-friendly for industry to improve the transparency of the current charging arrangements and maximise the opportunity for industry engagement in reforms to the national system of charges.

Also adopted was a single, national, modular B-triple vehicle specification which will enable modular B-triples to have access to the current road train network on the same basis as double (Type I) road trains.

This is a significant productivity enhancement for the heavy vehicle sector.

A National Airports Safeguarding Framework was agreed to - a national land use planning regime to protect airports and communities from inappropriate off-airport development, noting reservations from NSW on the format of the guideline on measures for managing impacts of aircraft noise.

The agreement represents a collective commitment from governments to ensure an appropriate balance is maintained between the social, economic and environmental needs of the community and the effective use of airport sites.

Review by 2013

Ministers further agreed that the National Transport Commission complete a comprehensive review of the heavy vehicle charging system to be completed by mid-2013.

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