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Aug 242012

The following is a speech by Steve Minnikin MP in the Queensland Parliament sitting Thursday 23 August 2012.

Mr MINNIKIN (Chatsworth—LNP) (12.48 pm): I rise to speak in support of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Bill 2012. The introduction of the uniform national heavy vehicle law and the subsequent establishment of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator aligns with the promise that the LNP made to the people of Queensland when entrusted with the state’s governance, and that is a commitment to cutting waste, slashing red tape and revitalising industry. Given that the Gateway Arterial Motorway weaves its way through the heart of my electorate of Chatsworth, carrying numerous heavy vehicles per day, this legislation is of interest to me and the residents of my community, of whom I am proud to represent.

The importance of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Bill 2012 is significant. The bill marks the culmination of the heavy vehicle reform program, which formally began in March 2008 when the Council of Australian Governments—COAG—committed to a micro-economic reform agenda for Australia, with a particular focus on regulatory reform and the broader productivity agenda. The COAG agreement committed to deliver more consistent regulation across jurisdictions and to address unnecessary or poorly designed regulation to reduce excessive compliance costs on business, restrictions on competition and distortions in the allocation of resources in the economy.

Taking a national approach to regulatory activities for heavy vehicles will eliminate the unnecessary duplication of regulations for companies undertaking interstate trade and commerce. I note that the national law includes provisions to create a single national regulator and will apply to heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes. It will not, however, cover the transportation of dangerous goods, heavy vehicle driver licensing and bus industry accreditation which are covered under separate legislation. From an economic perspective though, it will drive efficiencies for small to medium businesses, in addition to large industry around our nation. The ultimate beneficiaries will be those whom we in this House are here to serve: Queenslanders.

The fundamental objective driving the introduction of national uniform heavy vehicle laws and regulations is to achieve the same outcome in the same circumstances across all jurisdictions, thus reducing the legal and administrative costs of compliance for industry. This fits directly within the spirit of the LNP government’s pledge to revitalise industry and foster the economic prosperity of Queensland. Given our parlous economic position as a result of the gross economic ineptitude of the previous ALP government, legislation which streamlines processes and regulation is most welcome indeed.

Despite comprising of more than 600 pages, the legislation introduced to this House will replace thousands of pages of burdensome and conflicting legislation weighing business down across the nation. This single consolidated body of law, and the establishment of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator projected to come into effect on 1 January 2013, will provide a stable platform for long-term improvements in heavy vehicle regulation and safety. This is significant and long-overdue legislation. The regulator will provide owners and operators a single point of contact, acting as, we would say, a one-stop shop for the processing of accreditation applications and the issuing of access permits. When this law is applied nationally, business will see the removal of regulatory inconsistencies that currently plague operators adding to the cost of compliance and, of course, the cost of doing business in the transport industry. It will mean that business will no longer have to bear the burden of burgeoning compliance costs. These, in turn, will no longer need to be passed on to the consumer, allowing for greater competition and, subsequently, savings to Queenslanders.

In the lead-up to the election in March, throughout my electorate of Chatsworth I continued to hear about the blow-out in costs of living, including food and homewares amongst others. By streamlining business processes and encouraging efficiencies, this bill will play its part in reducing business input costs which should have a flow-on effect to the consumer. It is not just business and consumers who will benefit. The often less thought of group of people who will benefit from improving regulatory efficiency will be the actual drivers. Anything that we can do as legislators to relieve the red tape and cumbersome paperwork for this state’s fantastic heavy vehicle drivers is well worth it. I do not pretend to know how stressful it must be to work as a heavy vehicle driver, but commonsense indicates that anything that we legislate to lessen the burden on these vital men and women will add to their overall physical and mental wellbeing.

As the Minister for Transport and Main Roads stated in this House last month, the passage of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Bill 2012 will enable Queensland operators to contact one central regulatory agency for registration renewals, logbook queries, access permits, escort requirements for wide loads and a host of other services. In other words, operators will be able to deal with a customer focused one-stop shop. It goes without saying that this will reduce operator costs and the time spent dealing with the red tape of regulatory agencies.

Currently heavy vehicle operators and drivers must comply with multiple regulations in each jurisdiction they enter. An interstate operator taking freight from the north of our great state to the southern states is currently compelled to contact and receive access approvals from a number of state regulatory authorities. Supply chain processes are slowed down, adding to time and cost pressures on heavy freight operators. In turn, each of those jurisdictions may apply their own specific access requirements. It goes without saying that a single regulator will ensure that the current level of regulatory inconsistency, costs and red tape is dramatically reduced.

I am pleased to support this bill because it is an important practical step towards improving industry confidence in the economy and boosting conditions necessary for developing the economic strengths of Queensland. Given our current debt level of around $65 billion, any legislation that streamlines business processes and actually helps our vital heavy vehicle transportation system is to be commended. I recall many hours of business travel on the road and recall the famous trucking mantras, including the well-known ‘You are passing another Fox’ and ‘Without trucks Australia comes to a stop’. I thoroughly commend this important bill to the House, as the introduction of the uniform national heavy vehicle law and subsequent establishment of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is a drive towards cutting waste, assisting supply chain management, slashing red tape and, most importantly, revitalising this important industry to the Queensland economy. I congratulate the minister for introducing this bill and commend it to the House.

The above is the transcript of a speech made by Steve Minnikin MP in Queensland Parliament. We provide these on Carindale Connect so that the community can follow the activities and communications of their elected representatives. You can add your comments or questions below.

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