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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8605

Transport Infrastructure

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (15:05): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister inform the House of what progress is being made on reforming the national transport system? What are the risks to these reforms, and how is the government addressing them?

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:06): The Gillard government is indeed driving these historic reforms in the area of infrastructure and transport in Australia as part of creating a seamless national economy and as part of our productivity reform agenda. Tomorrow at COAG they will be considering the proposals in the intergovernmental agreements to move from 23 transport regulators down to three. There are real economic benefits for the nation, with a boost to national income of $30 billion over the next 20 years as a result of these historic reforms. For railways it means getting rid of seven separate regulatory authorities and 46 different pieces of state, territory and Commonwealth legislation, including seven rail safety acts, nine OHS acts and seven dangerous goods acts. Heavy vehicle operators will not have to deal with nine separate regulatory regimes to deal with their industry, supporting productivity and efficiency for operators. It will see one maritime regulator replacing 50 separate pieces of maritime legislation and seven separate state and territory regulators, each with overlapping and confusing regulation.

The benefits to these reforms to our national productivity are clear, and that is why the business community is sending a very loud, clear and unambiguous message to state and territory leaders, which is to sign on to these reforms tomorrow. There have been 10 separate meetings of the Australian Transport Council. We have crossed every 't' and dotted every 'i'. It is time for this reform. It is 100 years too late, but it is time to get this reform done. We are indeed back on track. This will be absolutely vital for getting rid of anomalies which are there. In rail, for example, red over green means caution in one state and full speed ahead in the state next door. There are different weights that are allowed on our heavy vehicles. The amount of hay you can put on the back of a truck in Victoria is different if the truck is in New South Wales and different again if it is in South Australia. If you operate, for example, in the Sunraysia region, then there is very confusing regulation there.

This is important reform. The opposition talked about this but did nothing about it for 12 years. We are going to get it done. In the maritime area, in which there has been some push back this week, I say this to state and territory leaders: if, for example, you are operating a commercial vessel in the gulf between the Northern Territory and Queensland, every time you cross the territorial waters you require different certification for the vessel and certification being redone for the staff of that commercial vessel. This is absurd in 2011. There are major gains: $30 billion over 20 years. This government has worked very hard to get the state and territories to the line where every transport minister throughout the country signed up at the ATC meeting in May. Tomorrow it is time for the premiers and the chief ministers to join with the national government in giving business the big win that it needs.