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Busy year ahead means plenty of changes in store

January 8, 2016

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has been given the green light “to finish what has been started”, namely focusing on improving transport system productivity and to help Australia embrace new technology and innovative practices to further improve Australia’s transport system, according to its Chairman, David Anderson.

Following its six-yearly review as required by the National Transport Commission Act, the Transport and Infrastructure Council has recommended that the NTC continue to tackle Australia’s emerging transport issues and prevent them from becoming entrenched problems.

“Given the establishment of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator over two years ago, it now makes sense for the NTC to work with our stakeholders to focus even more on the strategic issues that face our national economy and local communities into the future,” said Mr Anderson.

23 projects including driverless vehicles

Currently, the NTC’s work program includes 23 strategic projects and five operational projects. Of the 23 projects, one is Preparing for More Automated Road and Rail Vehicles. (CoR Adviser subscribers might recall an article we published last year about the onset of driverless vehicles and the pros and cons surrounding them, including probably additions to your Chain of Responsibility obligations).

NTC CEO Paul Retter said the project would help deliver the most efficient transport options and create a productive transport network to meet Australia’s growing economy.

Other countries are already embracing driverless transport and much research and development is taking place overseas including trials with Daimler and Volvo in Germany. In Australia, BHP is trialling autonomous haulage trucks in two of its mines in the Pilbara, WA, and Newcastle, NSW.

Mr Retter said the NTC had begun identifying any legislative obstacles that could limit the uptake of automated vehicles in the future. He added that the NTC would work closely with Austroads, and all Governments and industry to get the regulatory frameworks right.

“We need to make sure Australia is in a position to maximise the enormous social and financial benefits that automated vehicles can offer,” Mr Retter said.

The NTC has highlighted two other major projects scheduled to begin in mid-2016.

Filling in the information gaps

The National Surface Transport Productivity Framework project would help identify what industry and Governments could do to improve transport productivity; and the Who Moves What Where project would help fill the information gaps that currently existed in the understanding of the market structure of transport operators.

“Now that we have established national transport regulators, the NTC can continue to incrementally shift our focus from operational issues to more strategic policy issues that may well become entrenched problems if we don’t start tackling them now,” Mr Retter said.

Mr Retter said these projects will be crucial to better understanding the economic impacts of transport.

Speaking of economic impacts, what are all these changes the NTC alone has forecast going to mean for your business? Are you aware of the latest version of the Dangerous Goods Code?

Will your CoR obligations become even more onerous? Do you understand fully what they are now? You’re not alone if you don’t.

To understand more about CoR laws, and also gain access to legal information provided by transport law experts, including Editor-in-chief Geoff Farnsworth, a partner at Holding Redlich, take the obligation-free trial now to CoR Adviser.