Thursday 4 July 2013


Hansard of the Legislative Council





Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I am generally supportive of uniform national laws.  I imagine it is confusing for people who are travelling interstate to find different laws as they cross a border, especially with laws relating to traffic and road conditions.  It is funny, I just recalled an incident when I was travelling up through Dubbo. There was a horse named after a town there where you cross over the border to Queensland –


Mr PRESIDENT - Are you talking about Goondiwindi?


Mr FINCH - Yes.  As you are travelling through New South Wales, you deal with a 110-kilometre-an-hour speed limit but when you go over into Goondiwindi you are dealing with 100 kilometres an hour.  It is a huge, long straight out of Goondiwindi and the police were at the other end of the straight.  When you come through you are used to driving at 110 km/h.  You stop for a break in Goondiwindi and then head off at the same sort of speed but if you miss the sign, you are gone a million.


Mrs Taylor - And did you?


Mr FINCH - I got caught, of course. I got in the queue to have my ticket written because it was such a long straight you could not see them at the other end. The police were just pulling them over as they came.  I was annoyed because it was such an easy way to get the revenue ticking over.  That is an example of the different laws and situations across borders.  


As the second reading speech pointed out, the uniform laws, in a truck-driving sense, can improve productivity and reduce the regulatory burden which is on industry.  In listening to the briefings we got a sense of how professional the industry is, given the requirements they have on their drivers.  People think it is the easiest job in the world - just jump in a truck and away you go.  It is not like that at all.  There is regulatory work they have to do and also the call of professionalism on the truck drivers.  It is a profession.  It is not something that you do because you have not been to university, as the member for Apsley suggested.  It is something that does have a requirement for you to be disciplined and to be professional about what you do.


Uniform laws like this one for vehicles over 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass make more sense on the mainland than in Tasmania, but there are benefits for Tasmania.  Many of our transport operators work in Tasmania and on the mainland as well.  If we pass this bill when the national regulator is fully operational from 1 September, there will be a number of those benefits that we heard about.  Operators will be able to apply online for access permits through just the one national business portal.  They will deliver Australia's freight tasks under standardised regulations for mass, dimension and loading, operate under harmonised national standards for heavy vehicle inspections, take advantage of mutual interstate recognition of inspections and defect clearances - reducing vehicle downtime - and align business with nationally consistent fatigue management laws.  It must all be good.


At the same time, many heavy vehicle regulatory activities will continue to be delivered by Tasmania, including inspections by Tasmanian transport inspectors.  This concept of a uniform national heavy vehicle law has been supported by other states and territories, although Western Australia is dragging its feet somewhat.  I can see no reason why Tasmania cannot join up with the bulk of the rest of the nation