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NZ-Australia Joint Communique On Transport Policy

Joint Communique

8 August, Auckland, New Zealand

LAND TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE, PLANNING AND FUNDING

Ministers discussed the proposal by the Federal Minister for a National Land Transport Plan - AusLink.

The Federal Minister intends to release a Green Paper shortly, for broad public consultation on the concept.

The Ministers agreed to move forward collaboratively to develop a National Transport Plan and Green Paper. The Commonwealth will convene a meeting at the earliest opportunity with representatives of the states, local government, the Australian Logistics Council, and the National Transport Secretariat for consultation prior to development and release of the Green Paper.

Ministers agreed to the establishment of a National Transport Commission to cover road, rail and intermodal regulation (see below). Ministers also agreed that a working group of officials and the National Transport Secretariat develop an intergovernmental agreement for the establishment of the National Transport Advisory Council, including funding and establishment arrangements. The Council's purpose is to provide Ministers with strategic analysis and advice on priorities for national infrastructure investment and reforms to support inter-modal integration.

The state and territory ministers reaffirmed their belief in the fundamental principle that the Federal Government should retain full funding responsibility for the National Highway System.

REVIEW OF THE NATIONAL ROAD TRANSPORT COMMISSION ACT 1991 AND INTERGOVERNMENTAL GREEMENT ON RAIL OPERATION UNIFORMITY

The Future for Regulatory Reform

The National Road Transport Commission Act (NRTCA) is due to expire on 14 January 2004. As it is required to report to Heads of Government on whether the Act should cease, be re-enacted (including in a modified form) or be replaced, the ATC has conducted a review of the NRTC process. The ATC has simultaneously reviewed the Intergovernmental Agreement for Rail Operational Uniformity and the Australian Rail Operations Unit.

While the recommendations from the NRTCA Review have yet to be agreed by Heads of Government, ATC has agreed in principle to build upon the NRTC model for cooperative regulatory reform and to set a clear charter for action. Some of the key matters agreed by ATC include:

- Continuation of the road transport reform process, with increased emphasis on maintenance of reforms that have already been initiated;

- Extension of the road transport reform model to rail and intermodal operations. This means that a National Transport Commission (NTC) will be established to replace the National Road Transport Commission;

ƒ{ Rail transport reform will include developing further the national approach to rail safety regulation, to achieve a more effective mutual recognition regime, and focussing on procedures and standards to manage major risk factors, such as fatigue. There will also be capacity to look at the broader array of rail regulatory issues.

ƒ{ Consistent with the Freight Logistics Industry Action Agenda, the ATC will invite the freight logistics industry to review the regulatory environment and identify priorities for regulatory reform.

- Governments will support industry broadening and deepening the Code of Practice for the Defined Interstate Rail Network, so that it can be extended to the intra-state network; and

- Significantly improved mechanisms for industry consultation.

The Commonwealth will establish the National Transport Commission by legislation. The NTC’s mandate and processes and the role of jurisdictions will be set out in a new intergovernmental agreement replacing the Heavy and Light Vehicles Agreements and the Intergovernmental Agreement for Rail Operational Uniformity. Developmental and transitional work will be carried out by the SCOT working group on implementation of the National Transport Commission.

RAIL

Ministers noted the achievements and progress in relation to rail reform, particularly the significant train performance improvements arising from track investment and management reforms. The Council also noted that the Federal Government and the Australian Rail Track Corporation have proposed an investment of more than $870 million in the rail infrastructure over the next five years, if ARTC is successful in obtaining a lease over the NSW interstate track.

Ministers endorsed the introduction of new Performance Targets for the Interstate Rail Network subject to settlement with NSW following the conclusion of the Commonwealth/NSW lease negotiations.

HEAVY VEHICLE SAFETY

Ministers confirmed the importance of, and their commitment to, improving heavy vehicle safety. They also reaffirmed the importance of both finalising and implementing the Fatigue Management and Compliance and Enforcement Reforms, and developing the National Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Strategy. This work is being undertaken by the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC).

Ministers agreed to establish a Standing Committee on Transport (SCOT) working group, including the NRTC, to look at the broader issue of heavy vehicle safety. This will include consideration of sustainable rates for owner-drivers, as requested by states and territories. However, the Commonwealth signalled its strong position that safety in the road transport industry is best dealt with through direct road safety initiatives, rather than indirectly through economic regulation.

ROAD SAFETY

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) Safety

Ministers noted the road safety concerns that have been raised regarding 4WDs. Ministers agreed in principle to the introduction of reversing alarms and improved mirrors for 4WD vehicles. Officials are to prepare a report for the May 2003 ATC meeting on measures to improve safety for vehicle occupants and pedestrians. The officials’ report will also address vehicle registration charges and issues associated with novice drivers learning to drive on the larger 4WDs. Council noted that the tariff arrangements applying to 4WDs are currently under review as part of the Productivity Commission’s review of assistance arrangements for the automotive industry.

Ministers requested that a national standard for bull bars be developed as soon as possible and that following its development states and territories consider the issue of penalties for driving a vehicle with a non-compliant bull bar.

New Road Safety Initiatives

Ministers noted that a number of options for improving road safety are being reviewed at a national level; these include:

- motorcycle front identification

- daytime running lights

- Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) for heavy vehicles

- tighter rules on carriage of unrestrained children in motor vehicles

- adoption of a common name for a Certificate of Roadworthiness, and

- the feasability of developing a nationally agreed list of substances declared to be drugs for road safety-related purposes.

Safety in Automotive Advertising

Ministers noted that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has developed a new industry Code for vehicle advertising, to guide self-regulation of advertisements by industry. The Code will apply to new advertisements from 8 August 2002 and to all advertisements from 1 December 2002.

Ministers welcomed the Code and will watch with interest the change in advertisements expected under the new arrangements.

LEVEL CROSSINGS

Ministers agreed that Rail Group of the Standing Committee on Transport should develop a strategic approach to managing the full range of level crossing issues. This will include consideration of the best ways of making level crossings safer and disabled access, and will involve consultation with the rail industry.

To supplement this, ATC agreed that SCOT road and rail modal groups review available research on train lighting and visibility, and report back to ATC in November on the need for any further research.

In the meantime, ATC agreed that:

- Australian Standards will be requested to review both the standards for design, construction and accessibility of pedestrian level crossings and the standards for wheelchairs and mobility aids as they relate to safety at level crossings; and

- Road user education on railway level crossing safety and warnings about the risks associated with level crossings will be addressed in the context of the National Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan for 2003-2004.

HIGHWAY RULE

Ministers considered the impact of a decision last year by the High Court to abolish the so-called “Highway Rule,’ a common law principle that had given road authorities limited immunity from liability for damage and injury caused by poorly maintained roads.

Ministers recognised that, while there was agreement that the approach taken by all jurisdictions should be consistent, they need not be identical. A broad approach was agreed which involved, as a minimum, action to encourage road authorities to undertake a range of measures to improve their management of risks and secondly, to initiate a statutory regime to mitigate the exposure of road authorities to this type of risk. A report will be provided for consideration by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

INDIGENOUS RECONCILIATION

Ministers endorsed a draft Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan for use by transport agencies in all States and Territories in accordance with the key outcomes of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reconciliation process.

The key outcome areas identified by COAG, and on which the Action Plan was developed, are:

- community leadership initiatives;

- reviewing and re-vamping programs and services to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous peoples; and

- building links between the business sector and Indigenous communities to advance economic independence.

The Action Plan will now be forwarded to the Prime Minister and COAG for approval with a view to its implementation later this year.

ELECTRONIC STANDARDS IN TRANSPORT

Ministers renewed their commitment to national interoperable standards for ticketing and electronic tolling, and pledged to give priority to current work directed towards this public transport objective.

The Council acknowledged the broader significance of smartcard technology, and noted the need to ensure its use in the transport sector is compatible with use in other sectors, such as tourism and local government.

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

Ministers accepted the report of the Austroads School Bus Safety Advisory Group and its recommendation that jurisdictions give priority to measures that address the most common cause of school-bus related fatalities (children being struck by cars after leaving a bus or before boarding). The Advisory Group is looking in more detail at measures such as seat belts, strengthened seats, roll-over protection, one for one seating and an end to policies permitting standees and will report back to the next ATC meeting.

REGIONAL TRANSPORT

Ministers agreed that jurisdictions would undertake a stocktake of their regulatory and assistance measures relating to regional public transport and to support a Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) study into:

- the past and likely future trends in the market for regional public transport and the supply of these services

- regulation and assistance schemes affecting inter-regional public transport

- the issues and options in developing a policy framework covering public transport services to regional areas.

The results of the BTRE study will be considered at the ATC meeting in November this year and in 2003.

TRANSPORT EMISSIONS

Ministers today approved a National Strategy for Lowering Emissions from Urban Traffic and National Action Plan to support the Strategy. The Strategy and Action Plan developed by the National Transport Secretariat in collaboration with all states, territories and the Commonwealth government provides a groundbreaking national approach to reducing greenhouse emissions from the transport sector.

Ministers noted that the National Strategy is the first agreed national approach driven by the transport sector to reducing greenhouse emissions, creating greater momentum than can be achieved via a fragmented approach.

The National Action Plan builds on the large range of activities already underway in each state and territory.

The positions are, within the next 5-10 years:

- a fully integrated transport system that allows for timely, reliable, accessible and safe travel will be operational.

- programs that encourage people to take fewer trips by car will be operational in each jurisdiction and a nationally cooperative approach between jurisdictions will have been developed.

- transport costs will have moved from predominantly fixed to predominantly variable costs. This outcome will address cost variations in transport modes and ensure that transport users experience more of the true cost of their travel choices.

- a significant improvement in the emissions efficiency of urban vehicles will have been achieved.

- nationally developed policy and benchmarking tools for the integration of transport and land use planning will have been implemented. Well-planned urban development reduces the need for car trips and improves the “liveability’ of towns and cities.

- a nationally developed transport investment framework for investment decisions across all transport modes of travel will have been trialled and implemented

Ministers further agreed that progress against the current Action Plan, and the need for new actions, would be considered on a regular basis at future ATC meetings.

HEAVY VEHICLE CHARGES

Ministers agreed that zonal voting arrangements for charges would be considered by the SCOT working group on the implementation of the National Transport Commission, for consideration at the November ATC meeting.

OTHER MATTERS

Australian Logistics Council

Ministers expressed their support for the industry-led Australian Logistics Council (ALC) to oversee implementation of the Australian Logistics Industry Strategy. Ministers endorsed the appointment of 20 industry leaders and agreed to appoint appropriate state and territory representative(s) as well as a Commonwealth representative to the ALC, thus ensuring an effective national approach on logistics initiatives. The Chair of ATC, Federal Transport Minister John Anderson, will announce the full ALC membership after consultation with those nominated. Ministers agreed that the ALC is well placed to make a significant contribution to addressing national and state-based strategic freight logistics issues.

NEXT MEETING

Friday, 8 November 2002 in Sydney.


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