Several positive outcomes materialised earlier in the week from a meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) in Sydney, however governments need to adopt a faster pace when it comes to implementing key reforms the freight logistics industry needs, according to the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).
“Today’s meeting has set up potential progress in some key areas, including land transport market reform, heavy vehicle safety and harmonisation of regulations to promote national consistency,” said ALC Interim CEO, Lachlan Benson, who attended today’s meeting.
“What industry now requires is all governments to act more quickly to progress reforms, so they can be implemented alongside the finalised National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, due to be presented to the next TIC meeting scheduled for May next year.
“Improving the efficiency and safety of our supply chains is a vital national economic priority. If Australia is going to meet its growing freight task and remain internationally competitive, then we must ensure the regulatory frameworks around freight movement reflect modern realities and allow this industry to meet customer’s expectations.
“ALC notes that jurisdictions have been asked to return to TIC in 2019 with advice on Heavy Vehicle Road Reform (HVRR) options, including advice on implementation.
“We now need a definitive reform timeline to be established and adhered to, and for industry to be given its opportunity to comment on acknowledged critical matters including location-based charging, elements of a forward-looking cost base and the ambit of community service obligations.
“It is also crucial that the review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) set to be undertaken by the National Transport Commission delivers the right outcomes.
“In ALC’s view, this review offers the perfect opportunity to mandate the use of telematics in all heavy vehicles. No one can credibly dispute the capacity such technology has to save lives on our roads, and the technology is becoming more affordable each day. Delaying mandatory telematics is needlessly putting lives at risk on our roads.
“Similarly, the HVNL review is the right moment to establish a consistent national form of accreditation for heavy vehicle operators. This must include requiring operators to have the financial capacity to maintain their fleets to the required standard, and to adopt a uniform safety management system.
“ALC welcomes TIC’s decision to develop a program of work to address the barriers and challenges impeding the uptake of low and zero emissions vehicles, including for freight. This is a matter ALC will continue to pursue by engaging with TIC Ministers through the ALC Electric Vehicles Working Group.
“The Productivity Commission Review of Transport Reforms, scheduled to begin in 2019, must focus on economic opportunities that can be unlocked through greater national harmonisation of regulations around freight movement, and ensuring regulations are designed to manage actual risks, rather than perceived risks.
“For that reason, ALC has advised TIC Ministers that we believe the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) should be given an expanded remit that allows it to focus on initiatives that will drive enhanced productivity.
“We note that this view is also supported by the Freight On Rail Group and believe it is time for governments to act on this clear industry enthusiasm for change.
“Several of the matters explored at today’s TIC meeting have been discussed over many years. It is now time to lift the pace of policy reform, so that the freight logistics industry can efficiently and safely meet the freight task of a growing nation.”