Weekly News – National regional transport strategy, CoR

NATIONAL REMOTE AND REGIONAL TRANSPORT STRATEGY

The ALRTA has made a submission in response to a ‘Draft National Remote and Regional Transport Strategy’ which is being developed by the Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council.  Last year, the ALRTA attended a workshop in Alice Springs at which stakeholders proposed a range of possible actions that should underpin a national strategy.

As I’m sure you know, remote and regional Australia has long been the poor cousin of metropolitan and inter-capital Australia when it comes to road infrastructure and risk-appropriate regulatory oversight.  A specific national strategy for remote and regional transport has the potential to deliver economic and social improvements through innovative approaches to infrastructure delivery, red tape reduction and community integration.

The ALRTA has argued in favour of affording a very high priority to the following draft actions proposed in the strategy, several of which we put forward at the Alice Springs workshop:

Transport Infrastructure

Draft Action 1: Develop a national framework that facilitates private sector investment and developer contributions.

Draft Action 2: Investigate the impact of establishing a national infrastructure funding allocation network.

Draft Action 3: Establish national infrastructure planning and assessment guidelines.

Draft Action 4: Establish a national rural and remote arterial road network development plan.

Transport Services

Draft Action 2: Explore nationally centralised remote aerodrome arrangements.

Draft Action 3: Maximise employment and economic opportunities through transport projects and services.

Draft Action 4: Optimise opportunities through the tax system review.

Draft Action 5: Recommend the development of a telecommunication plan based on key freight routes.

Transport Regulation

Draft Action 1: Adopt a more flexible risk-based regulatory approach to achieve consistency and reduce regulatory burdens.

NTC CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY WORKSHOP

On Wednesday this week I attended the NTC’s Chain of Responsibility Workshop in Melbourne. The aim of the workshop was to flesh out the proposals contained in the NTC Discussion Paper on ‘Primary Duties for Chain of Responsibility Parties and Executive Officer Liability’ which was released for comment earlier this month.

Chain of responsibility reform has been a long journey.  Just about everyone I speak to acknowledges that the current system is not working as intended.  The unwillingness of the NHVR to pursue chain parties for effluent spills is a good example of why the current law needs to change.

Positive Primary Duties

In line with the ALRTA’s long held position, the NTC is proposing to introduce positive primary duties that closely reflect the duties prescribed under workplace health and safety legislation.  However, these duties would only apply to operators, prime contractors and employers, while other parties (such as consignors, loaders and packers) would have duties limited to the role that they perform.

In principle, this could be a workable system, provided that the role specific duties are broad enough to capture all of the acts and omissions of these parties that could have an impact on the road.  The scope of all duties would however be limited by a definition of ‘road transport operations’ which is not defined in the NTC discussion paper.

I have previously debated this matter with certain state road agencies and still harbour a deep concern that a narrow definition would leave us unable to use chain of responsibility to pursue the party with the most influence over practices that are causing problems on the road.

However, it is fair to say that industry, NHVR and state agencies do all seem to want the same outcome – but there are varying opinions on how it should be done.

Executive Officer Liability

Complicating these considerations are the changes proposed to executive officer liability.  We have previously agreed to reduce the number of offences attracting liability and to remove the reverse onus of proof (i.e. change it to ‘innocent until proven guilty).  The NTC discussion paper reflects this position, but it does not deal with other important matters such as enhancing the investigative powers of officers to obtain the necessary evidence to successfully prosecute executive officers.  This will be a sensitive issue and it will be near impossible to agree to a package of changes while it remains unresolved.  The ALRTA has requested our own legal advice on these matters to assist us in properly responding to the NTC proposals and we are working closely with the ATA to come to an agreed industry position.

AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT RANGERS: ANNUAL SEMINAR

On Thursday this week I attended the Annual Seminar of the Australian Institute of Local Government Rangers in Sydney.  The ALRTA was invited to make a presentation on the positive measures we are taking to improve animal welfare and incident responses.

The session was opened by a presentation from the NSW Department of Primary Industries on the content of an agreed policy for dealing with heavy vehicle incidents involving livestock. The policy specifies the roles and powers of police, vets, RSPCA etc and is being observed by ALRTA and NTI in the design of LivestockASSIST.

The rangers in attendance supported the NSW policy but also expressed a view that they had been unfairly ‘left out’. In more isolated locations, council rangers are often the first and only respondent on the scene for the first few hours. Without formal recognition in the DPI policy, they are unable to undertake actions such as euthanasing suffering animals or rounding up and holding affected stock because of the liabilities that might arise.   NSW DPI is now further considering this issue.

The ALRTA presentation focussed on LivestockASSIST and our National Ramps Guide.  There was strong interest among the audience in both initiatives and the Rangers Institute has pledged to assist the ALRTA and NTI to obtain a new contact network of local rangers to underpin the LivestockASSIST coordination service.  Individual rangers will also promote the availability of LivestockASSIST and the National Ramps Guide with their local councils – many of which own or operate livestock facilities that would benefit from considering the ramps guide.

NSW DPI also advised that they will formally recognise LivestockASSIST in their response policy once the hotline is operational.

LRTAV CONFERENCE: 7-8 AUGUST, BENDIGO, VICTORIA

There is still time to register for the LRTAV Annual Conference to be held on 7-8 August 2015 at the All Seasons Motel in Bendigo Victoria. This year’s conference theme is ‘Safety is no Accident’ and attendees will hear from high quality speakers on a range of topics such as:

  • The VicRoads Rollover Program;
  • LivestockASSIST;
  • National Ramps Guide;
  • Livestock AFM Template;
  • Maximising your fuel rebate claim;
  • SuperStream; and
  • Men’s Health.

More details including a program and registration form can be found at: http://lrtav.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Delegate-Registration.pdf

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