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Press on with truck law reforms, industry demands

05 June 2024

Australia’s transport ministers must press on with the agreed reforms to the national truck laws when they meet on Friday 7 June, Australian Trucking Association Chair Mark Parry said today.

Ministers agreed to the reforms in September 2022. The reforms would increase the trucking industry’s productivity and simplify the complex fatigue rules applying to truck drivers.

Mr Parry said the ministers must agree to press on with the reforms to what is known as the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

“The reforms were put together by former NSW Roads and Maritime Services CEO Ken Kanofski. He consulted widely with governments and industry representatives, and reached a compromise that had broad support,” Mr Parry said.

“The ATA and our members had put forward our own, more ambitious, proposal. We agreed to the Kanofski reforms to save the reform process and get results.

“The agreed reforms would increase the productivity of the trucking industry, which has stagnated since the 1990s. Productivity is the key to increasing wages without inflation, as well as continuing the path towards lower emissions intensity.

“The reforms would increase the productivity of trucks with heavy cargoes by up to five per cent. Trucks could be a metre longer and 30 centimetres higher, so operators would not need as many special permits.

“The truck driver fatigue rules are a maze of random requirements that drivers must meet perfectly. The reforms would simplify their work diaries, make enforcement fairer and reduce penalties to reasonable levels.

“Ministers agreed to all these reforms. They said so in writing.

“But now we understand that their departments can’t agree on the details. Some states are even denying that their ministers reached an agreement at all, despite their public statement to the contrary.

“When they meet on Friday, we would urge transport ministers to stick to their original plan and agree to press on with the reforms. The industry was prepared to compromise to get a result; we expect ministers and their departments to do the same.

“In addition, ministers must agree on a structured process for continuing the law reform process in manageable chunks, as well as a process for agreeing to minor or technical changes.

“The industry’s productivity, safety, sustainability and ability to attract staff depends on ministers getting this right,” Mr Parry said.