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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9565

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (11:38): I speak in support of the motion put forward by the honourable member for Makin, and I do so because the Intergovernmental Agreement on Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform at COAG in 2011 is an historic agreement that has been reached. I commend the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for the really good work that he has done to get to this agreement. Road safety is an issue that has dogged the heavy vehicle industry in Australia for a long time, and everybody at meetings at state, territory and federal levels would agree: 'Yes, we have to fix it. Yes, we have to act on it.' But everybody would go home, and it would not always bear fruit. This time it has; hence my commendation.

This agreement peels back inconsistencies across jurisdictions that seem incomprehensible to some. We live in a federation, so these inconsistencies grow up, but they cost money and time. The agreement will cut the number of transport regulators operating across Australia from 23 to three. The benefits to our national productivity are clear beyond dispute—it will boost national income by up to $30 billion over the next 20 years. It seems incomprehensible that these things have gone on for so long at such cost to our national income. It will also cut the burden of red tape on our $61 billion transport industry. I know there are issues to work through. Yes, there is extensive consultation being undertaken; but everyone is at the table and everyone is agreed that this has not come before time. Heavy vehicle operators will not have eight separate regulatory regimes—one in each state and territory—and their associated rules to deal with, and that will lead to increased productivity and efficiency for the operators.

It is an issue that is frequently talked about at many levels in my electorate. I will give an example of a case study of the inconsistencies across jurisdictions. It relates to my area. A livestock carrier transporting cattle from Queensland to a station just inside the New South Wales border faces the prospect of unloading some cattle at the border onto a second truck to complete the journey to ensure that the vehicle meets the lower mass limits in New South Wales. Not only is this inefficient but it also unduly stresses the livestock and adds significantly to cost. There are two big imposts there. One is cost, which everybody, naturally and understandably, is always looking to save. There is also the animal welfare issue. An Australian Lot Feeders' Association survey identified costs of $4 to $9 per head in additional freight and carcass value losses over a trip from the Victoria to Queensland border.

I know what this means in New South Wales and Queensland because of the agriculture industry in my area. A few months back we had discussions at the Northern Meat Co-operative Meat Company, the meatworks in Casino, and Michael Deegan was there with a group of other people having discussions on this very issue. This was before the agreement came into place. They were talking about how it would be good if we got to an agreement so that these issues could be dealt with. It is like, 'Hallelujah—it's here and they can be dealt with.' I know it will take time, but it will be such a significant boost to our national income to cut the burden of red tape that I talked about. Heavy vehicle operators will not have nine separate regulatory regimes to deal with, and that will make such a difference to how heavy vehicle operators are able to get about and do their work.

There are a whole range of areas, but in the few seconds I have left I cannot go through them all. Heavy vehicle driver fatigue, counting time, access, oversize loads, log books, multiple dealings and one-stop shops will all be dealt with. (Time expired)