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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2011
58 ALC Policy on Safety in the Australian Transport and Logistics Industry Over 2011 the national rail/marine safety regulations and the national heavy vehicle laws consolidation will be developed, with a targeted commencement date of 1 January 2013. These regulators will not be deemed a success if we just create a new layer of regulation, rather than national laws with real ‘teeth’. The development of the national rail/ marine safety regulators and the current National Heavy Vehicle Laws Consolidation is the best way to develop such a national law. The current heavy vehicles model legislation and the model Rail Safety Bill have been introduced inconsistently throughout Australia – not all jurisdictions adopted all of the provisions of the respective model legislation. Different laws in different states and territories have led to confusion and added compliance costs to industry, without a clearly identifiable benefit to safety outcomes. Safety in the Australian T&L industry should therefore be covered by one national law given effect by a single ‘applied or template law’ – a law passed in one Australian state or territory and adopted in all the others. ALC has decided to review the ALC National Logistics Safety Code so it can be considered for registration under the National Heavy Vehicle Laws Consolidation as a recognised industry code of practice. If registered, it would mean compliance with the code can be taken as prima facie evidence that all reasonable steps were taken to ensure against a breach of safety legislation created under the new laws. ALC wrote to all transport ministers in March 2011 to express concern that a national approach to the Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry may not be achieved by the recently released draft National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL) and its accompanying draft regulatory impact statement (the draft 2011 RIS). ALC is of the view that COAG and transport ministers should ensure that the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is the government agency with responsibility to administer and enforce the national law and that a model be supported in which: all critical functions of the a) national system are to be performed by officers of the national regulator; other agencies (such as b) state police forces and work cover authorities) will only be eligible to receive a delegation if they have undergone suitable training provided by the national regulator; and delegated agencies are c) prohibited from publishing guidelines on how the national law is to be interpreted or implemented. ALC notes that the draft 2011 RIS estimates total gains of $12.4 billion could be available if a national scheme is implemented. The ultimate concern by ALC is that notwithstanding the clearest of guidelines, individual government entities will: develop their own cultures; a) interpret the provisions of b) the national law in diverging ways (and may perhaps develop internal guidelines that will effectively become the law as those guidelines are utilised in practice by junior officers) particularly as it relates to the interpretation of chain of responsibility issues; and develop their own c) enforcement priorities. The net effect may be that the national law will not be enforced uniformly and the benefits of a single national law identified in the draft 2011 RIS could be lost.