Australia’s transport ministers have today agreed to a forward work program to amend Australia’s draft national truck laws to fix 849 issues identified by the trucking industry and state road agencies.
The decision is a significant victory for the ATA and the trucking industry.
The ministers took the decision at the inaugural meeting of the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure, under their plan to set up a national heavy vehicle regulator and national truck laws from 1 January 2013.
The chairman of the ATA, David Simon, and other industry representatives attended the meeting as observers and were able to put their arguments directly to the ministers.
Mr Simon said the ATA had urged the ministers to endorse an initial bill to set up the national regulator and laws, with an amendment bill to follow next year.
“The ministers agreed to this approach, which will give us the chance to argue for amendments to fix the many serious issues with the draft,” Mr Simon said.
“One of the ATA’s priorities is to make sure that directors, corporate officers, sole traders and partners in trucking businesses are innocent until proven guilty of road transport offences. Under the current bill, they are presumed to be guilty – which goes against everything Australians believe is fair and just.
“In addition, road asset managers like local governments need to be more accountable for their decisions about the trucks that can use their roads.”
“Today’s meeting was an important step forward in the development of the national laws, and a breath of fresh air thanks to Minister Albanese’s leadership in inviting industry representatives to attend.”
The ministers also assigned the responsibility for finalising the national laws to the NHVR project board and project office. David Simon, Andrew Ethell from Toll Holdings and Philip Halton from ATA member the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Association were recently appointed to the project board to represent the industry.
Today’s meeting also designated the Hon Bruce Baird AM as the inaugural chair of the national heavy vehicle regulator. Mr Baird was the NSW transport minister from 1988-1995, at a time when a series of accidents involving trucks led to significant reforms and the creation of the ATA to promote safety, professionalism and viability.
“I look forward to showing Mr Baird how the industry has markedly improved its safety since the 1980s and early 1990s, with safer trucks, safer roads, safer drivers and safer trucking businesses,” Mr Simon said.