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Lead the development nationally of more consistency in road transport and rail regulatory arrangements

Key strategy Performance indicators Achievement
Lead the development nationally of more consistency in road transport and rail regulatory arrangements.
(Contributing division: Transport Regulation)
Rail and road transport industries operating within a framework of national regulation or codes of practice supporting continuous enhancement of efficiency and safety. Substantially achieved

Key achievements

Establishment of the National Transport Commission

In August 2002, the Australian Transport Council (ATC) considered a review of the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC) Act 1991, which is due to lapse on 14 January 2004. The ATC decided to replace the NRTC as a regulatory reform body with the National Transport Commission (NTC). Heads of government endorsed the decision.

The NTC will have a mandate for rail and intermodal regulatory and operations reform as well as road transport, as currently undertaken by the NRTC.

To enable the earliest possible focus on rail and intermodal reform, ATC agreed that in practice the NRTC would function as the NTC from 1 July 2003. At its meeting in May 2003, ATC agreed to the First National Transport Regulatory Reform Work Programme, an ambitious reform programme, to be undertaken by the NRTC/NTC in 2003-04. The NTC will formally assume the functions of the NRTC when the NTC legislation comes into force on 15 January 2004.

The department chaired and provided secretariat support to the Standing Committee on Transport NTC Implementation Working Group, responsible for developing transitional arrangements, legislation and an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to establish the NTC. The department also made an active contribution to development of the work programme.

Other major steps for rail regulatory reform

Under an IGA with the states and territories, the Commonwealth established the Australian Rail Operations Unit (AROU) within the department in 2000. The unit was tasked to facilitate industry development and implementation of a code of practice for the rail. To assist with production and publication, the department assumed ownership of the code.

At its August 2002 meeting, the ATC agreed to recommendations from a review of the IGA for Rail Operations Uniformity and the AROU. This review built on the findings of the review of the NRTC Act in relation to rail. It recommended, among other things, that:

  • ownership of the code be transferred to industry
  • an agreement be developed for a cooperative approach to rail regulation between government and the rail industry.

A Memorandum of Understanding setting out this cooperative approach has been developed by the Standing Committee on Transport NTC Implementation Working Group and agreed by both ATC and the rail industry. The department has simultaneously negotiated transfer of the code to the rail sector and both the Memorandum of Understanding and the transfer agreement were signed in early July 2003. Together with the establishment of the NTC, this is a major step forward for the rail sector.

There is now full commitment by Australian governments to reform rail regulation so that it is uniform or consistent across all the states and territories, while industry has responsibility for developing its own nationally consistent standards within government requirements.

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