Transport ministers agree to single national regulators

Australia’s transport sector will undergo sweeping reforms, following the Australian Transport Council (ATC) announcement to introduce single national regulators in rail, maritime and heavy vehicles.

State and territory transport ministers agreed on Friday that South Australia would become the host jurisdiction for the national rail safety regulator, with offices also established in each state and territory to manage day-to-day regulation of local urban systems and interstate freight transport.

ATC also agreed that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority would be the national regulator for maritime safety, responsible for regulating all commercial vessels.

Ministers have also recommended to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) that the host jurisdiction for the national regulator for heavy vehicles be agreed to, adding that New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have expressed an interest.

The regulator will oversee rules and regulations applying to vehicles over 4.5 tonnes.

ATC also endorsed core National Taxi Driver Competency units and the National Minimum English Standard to be implemented from July 2010.

A new, consistent Australian Disability Parking Permit will also be rolled out nation-wide from 2010 to 900,000 current permit holders.

ATC also agreed to propose a new National Road Safety Strategy to run from 2011 to 2020. At Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s request, ATC discussed the issue of driver training and education and agreed to take appropriate measures to improve new driver safety.

Appointments to the new National Road Safety Council were also announced. Chaired by Roger Cook AM, the Council will advise governments of the development of the next 10-year National Road Safety Strategy.

Council members include former dean of Indigenous Research Education at Charles Darwin University, Emeritus Professor Mary Ann Bin-Sallik; Australian Foundation of the Alliance for Healthy Cities chair, Ann Bunnell; Australian Automobile Association president, Freda Crucitti; former world motorcycle racing champion, Wayne Gardner AM; director of the Road and Traffic Authority’s NSW Centre for Road Safety, Dr Soames Job; and National Transport Commission deputy chair, Professor Ian Johnston.

Other key outcomes of the ATC meeting include the adopting of a new railway level crossing safety strategy; endorsement of the national surface transport security strategy; consideration of integrated decision-making on urban congestion; and endorsement of a strategic action plan for workforce planning and skills.

ATC recommendations will be considered by COAG at its next meeting.

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