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Australian Transport Council



19 May 2000

Transport Ministers of the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments met in Queensland today as the Australian Transport Council (ATC). The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Commonwealth Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Honourable John Anderson MP and hosted by the Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, the Honourable Steve Bredhauer MLA.


Ministers endorsed the workplan of its new advisory body, the National Transport Secretariat (NTS). The NTS has been established to better address transport issues of cross modal, cross-jurisdictional and strategic significance. The NTS workplan for the next eighteen months will include:

An improved national transport planning process; ● Improving the strategic freight corridors of Australia, including intermodal hubs; ● Transport contribution to regional Australia; ● Improving the environmental performance of the transport system; ●

Addressing cross modal and national land transport policy issues; and ● The impact of electronic business on the transport system. ●

The NTS was particularly requested to bring forward options to reduce greenhouse emissions and the importance of addressing urban congestion was stressed.


Ministers noted the $15 billion Bureau of Transport Economics estimate of the annual cost of road crashes released yesterday. Ministers agreed on the need for a new National Road Safety Strategy with a national target for the reduction in road fatalities. The target is a forty per cent reduction in the fatality rate to 5.6 per 100,000 population in 2010 (compared with 9.3 per 100,000 in 1999). Achievement of this fatality target would save around 3,600 lives by 2010.

Ministers provided guidance on a vision, broad principles and agreed on eight strategic objectives for the new Strategy:

Improve road user behaviour; ● Improve vehicle compatibility and occupant protection; ● Improve the safety of roads; ● Use new technology to reduce human error; ●

Improve equity among road users; ● Improve trauma, medical and rehabilitation services; ● Improve road safety policy and programs through research of safety outcomes; and ● Encourage alternatives to motor vehicle use. ●

Ministers agreed that Action Plans with measures that are available for use by jurisdictions to achieve the target and strategic objectives should be agreed by ATC on a biennial basis and that there should be a report to ATC on progress with the Strategy on an annual basis.

Ministers directed SCOT to develop a new National Road Safety Strategy in accordance with their guidance to be cleared out of session and launched at the next meeting of ATC.


The Council reiterated its commitment to interoperability for electronic tolling in Australia and endorsed the proposed terms of reference for the Working Group on this.


Ministers noted the release of the Productivity Commission report on Progress in Rail Reform and the Commonwealth view on issues such as access arrangements, investment, operational uniformity, and accident investigation, contained in the Federal Government response to recent rail reports.

Ministers agreed to a process for all jurisdictions to achieve greater progress in rail reform, and in particular moves to achieve operational and safety harmonisation and better track access, recognising that doing so is critical to meeting the national freight task.

Ministers noted the Commonwealth’s announcement that it would legislate to enable an independent Commonwealth rail safety investigation role by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), in response to the Neville "Tracking Australia" and Smorgon "Revitalising Rail" reports. Ministers agreed that officials should consult through SCOT to ensure that interface issues, jurisdictional overlap and possible duplication are resolved.

Ministers noted Rail Group strategic issue 8 that: "participants in the rail industry do not openly investigate and share safety problems and findings within a ‘no blame’ safety culture. As a result, mistakes are often repeated, with consequential loss of life and injury, thus reducing rail’s competitive safety/social advantage over road. In developing safety procedures and priorities, there is a need to better define and reflect community concern for the avoidance of major accidents particularly those with injuries and fatalities to fare-paying passengers".

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to open, independent and systemic "no blame" investigation to improve rail safety throughout Australia. Ministers asked SCOT to note the benefits of this type of investigation conducted by the ATSB that had been demonstrated in the ATSB’s recent report on the Ararat accident for the Government of Victoria.


Ministers agreed to finalise implementation as quickly as possible and report on progress to ATC.


ATC agrees on the high potential of ITS for transport. Ministers endorsed the proposal prepared by the Standing Committee on Transport for Austroads and jurisdictions to fund the National Strategy for Intelligent Transport Systems "e-transport". The Chair of ITS Australia, Mr Lachlan McIntosh, gave a presentation on how the strategy is to be progressed. Ministers noted that it would be essential for the private sector to play its part in making the national strategy a success.


Ministers noted progress with implementation by jurisdictions of the thirty-one reforms covered by the initial six national road transport reform modules and the reforms in the two Heavy Vehicle Reform Packages.

Thirteen reforms have been fully implemented in all jurisdictions and, if jurisdictions meet their projected dates for implementation, all but two reforms should be fully implemented by early 2001. When fully implemented these reforms are expected to bring lasting productivity, efficiency and safety benefits to the road transport industry and the community as a whole.


Ministers approved a Third Heavy Vehicle Reform Package to maintain the momentum and chart the way forward for the road transport reform. Reforms include:

a review of heavy vehicle driver health and fatigue with an emphasis on a review of the current regulatory framework governing driving hours; ●

several initiatives to improve compliance and enforcement; ● a Code of Practice for Operators and Drivers to be developed by the road transport industry, which will deal with general on road behaviour and performance, and a drugs and alcohol policy; and


work on a policy framework for a performance based system of regulation in addition to, but not in replacement of, current prescriptive approaches. ●

These and the other five reforms in the Package draw together issues that have the potential to deliver significant productivity, safety and environmental benefits and/ or efficiencies for freight and passenger tasks. The National Road Transport Commission will be issuing more detailed information on the Package shortly.

Ministers also referred the future handling of higher mass limits to Transport Heads. There is to be regular reporting on this issue to ATC.


The majority of Ministers favour the principle of indexation. A vote will be held in early 2001 to determine whether indexation is applied in 2001-02.


Ministers agreed that all jurisdictions commit to the achievement of blind pass reciprocity for access to public transport. A working group is being formed with representation from all States/Territories to progress this issue.


Ministers noted the progress report on the Intelligent Access Project, and reiterated the need for a consistent national approach to ITS based heavy vehicle access and infrastructure management.


The next meeting of the Australian Transport Council will be held in Tasmania in November 2000.


Chairperson: The Hon John Anderson MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Commonwealth Minister for Transport and Regional Services Host:  The Hon Steve Bredhauer MLA, Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads The Hon Carl Scully MLA, New South Wales Minister for Transport and Minister for Roads The Hon Peter Batchelor MLA, Victorian Minister for Transport The Hon Candy Broad MLC, Victorian Minister for Ports The Hon Murray Criddle MLC, Western Australian Minister for Transport The Hon Diana Laidlaw MLC, South Australian Minister for Transport and Urban Planning The Hon Paul Lennon MHA, Deputy Premier and Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources The Hon Mick Palmer MLA, Northern Territory Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Development and Minister for Territory Ports Mr Brendan Smyth MLA, Australian Capital Territory Minister for Urban Services


Cr John Ross, Vice President, Australian Local Government Association


Mr Stuart Hicks, Chairman, National Road Transport Commission Mr Paul Blake, Executive Director, National Transport Secretariat


The Hon Mark Gosche MP, New Zealand Minister of Transport The Hon Bart Philemon MP, Papua-New Guinea Minister for Transport

THIRD HEAVY VEHICLE REFORM PACKAGE Industry Sector Reforms 1. Performance-Based Standards and Guidelines 2. Driver Health and Fatigue 3.

Load Restraint Guide 4. Heavy Vehicle Noise and Diesel Emissions 5. Compliance and Enforcement 6. Bus Productivity and Safety 7.

Local Road Access 8. Industry Code of Practice 9.