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Uniform road transport legislation to proceed

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11 December 1991


The Federal Government has reached agreement with the Australian Democrats on legislation for nationally uniform road transport rules.

Announcing this today, Federal Land Transport Minister Bob Brown said recent discussions with both the Democrats and the road transport industry had addressed a number of issues about the Bill before the Senate.

These had included the timing of the determination of new road user charges next year, the independence of the National Road Transport Commission to make determinations and set priorities, and the need for the Commission to have

sufficient flexibility to effectively carry out its work.

"As a result of our discussions, I am confident that the legislation will now proceed through the Parliament as scheduled, and that the particular concerns of the Road Transport Forum and its chairman, Bruce Mclver, have been

largely allayed," Mr Brown said.

"The discussions with the Democrats were particularly constructive, and I have assured them that changes to arrangements under the legislation will be subject to appropriate parliamentary scrutiny, and that the Government will continue to monitor any regional impacts and the

incidence of taxation on operators.

"These issues are to be referred to a Senate standing committee next year."

The Bill currently before the Senate deals exclusively with the establishment of the National Road Transport Commission, and does not address road user charges or other policy issues which the Federal, State and ACT Governments

will look at next year after they have been considered by the NRTC.

Mr Brown said the constructive approach of the Democrats and the Road Transport Forum stood in stark contrast to that of the Coalition parties, which had taken a duplicitous approach to the legislation and had done their best to muddy the waters.



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"While the Liberals and the Nationals pay lip service to micro economic reform, they have done everything possible to shaft this important legislation and frustrate the Government's efforts to get fairer regulation for the road

transport industry and make our exports more competitive," Mr Brown said.

"For example, only a few weeks ago, Dr Hewson said that direct road user charging for heavy vehicles was "somewhere down the track" under a Coalition government.

"Yet in the Fightback document which sanctimoniously declares that the Opposition will accelerate micro economic reform, the Hewson/Fischer package claims the Opposition will immediately gain a GDP increase of $0.5 billion

through 'cost recovery in each vehicle class'.

Mr Brown said he well understood the concerns of the industry about some aspects related to the Bill which had been brought to his attention by the chairman of the Road Transport Forum, Bruce Mclver.

"These have been addressed as far as the Government has been able," he said.

"I have discussed these matters with the chairman of the Interim Commission, Gordon Amedee, and we will be doing everything possible to protect the independence of the Commission. Where necessary I will raise these matters with my colleagues on the Ministerial Council."

Mr Brown added that the chairman of the Commission had a strong and distinguished private industry career. He would be making up his own mind about matters along with his other commissioners, and would not allow the Commission to

serve as a rubber stamp for any particular interest.

"That is absolutely critical to the success and credibility of the Commission," Mr Brown said.

"On the timing of the determination of charges, I will be discussing with the Commission and the Ministerial Council the possibilities for an extended time-frame for consultations, provided that the industry understands that the implementation date of 1 January 1993 remains.

"I have every confidence that the Commission will live up to its charter in this respect and also carefully study any regional impacts.

"While not pre-empting the Commission's work, I would also expect that it would wish to take a hard look at some of the concerns raised about the two-tier zonal system."


Media inquiries: Brian Hill (06) 277 7440