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Wednesday, 15 December 1993
Page: 4119

Mr VAILE (7.26 p.m.) —I welcome the opportunity to make a few brief comments before the allotted time expires for the Road Transport Reform (Vehicles and Traffic) Bill. It is interesting to note that the government is introducing these uniform road transport regulations without the total support of all the states in standardising the regulations for road transport. I believe that ultimately they all must fall in line. There are obviously reasons why some of those state governments are not prepared to accept some of the regulations that the federal parliament is proposing within this bill.

  I think it is a good move by the government. The opposition has a lot of reservations regarding the cost of road transport in Australia—not the least being that component of the cost of fuel that goes straight into the Commonwealth coffers by way of fuel excise and the taxes that we pay through the bowser, and also sales tax that is paid on parts for the transport industry. Almost 80 per cent of all consumable goods throughout Australia that are moved around this country are transported by road transport, so fuel excise and sales tax impact on our cost of living. Hopefully when these uniform regulations are introduced, the running of these rigs might be cheaper in some areas. That will be interesting to see. It will also be interesting to see whether the four states that at this stage are not entirely in agreement with this bill fall into line and agree to it down the line.

  I suppose that begs the question of why we need to start legislating to improve these standards. Why can we not encourage the industry in other areas? As I commented earlier, I believe standards have slipped because of the economical pressure placed on the industry to try to survive. Following on from that, we have had a proliferation of road accidents on our highways involving semitrailers and the like. So we find ourselves in a situation where we will introduce legislation to try to control the heavy vehicles that use our highways moving from Queensland to get registered in South Australia, or vice versa, because the restrictions are not as tough. If we have standardised restrictions or regulations across Australia, our roads should be safer.

  The underlying reason the industry's standards have dropped is that we continually hit it with taxes at the petrol bowser and sales tax, which it pays on tyres, batteries and everything else, rather than trying to encourage an industry that is very efficient, that is doing a good job and certainly has a major impact on everything that we consume and everything that we do within Australia. Hopefully, following the introduction of this regulation in this bill—

  Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins)—Order! It being 7.30 p.m., the time allotted for the remaining stages of the bill has expired. The question is that this bill be now read a second time.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time.