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Herbert to push for national drug and alcohol framework

Bob Herbert, chairman of ARA. Photo: ARA / Shutterstock

The Australasian Railway Association is pushing for better management of the risks of drug and alcohol use in Australia’s rail industry.

ARA chairman Bob Herbert AM will tell ministers at the Australian Government’s Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting on May 18 to vote in favour of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator’s six recommendations for the development of a nationally consistent framework to manage drug and alcohol risk.

A New South Wales variation of the law currently means two different sets of drug and alcohol requirements exist.

This complexity impacts 53 of Australia’s 186 accredited rail transport operators, the ARA said on May 17, and imposes cost, compliance and productivity impacts whilst limiting the flexibility for the rail industry to mitigate their drug and alcohol risks.

ONRSR’s recommendations are the result of the office’s Drug and Alcohol Review, which was conducted as a component of the national rail safety transport reform agreed to by transport ministers in 2011.

“The rail industry strongly supports each of the six recommendations put forward by ONRSR to achieve a nationally consistent approach to drug and alcohol management in the rail industry,” Herbert said.

“On behalf of the rail industry, the ARA encourages each transport minister to vote in support of ONRSR’s drug and alcohol recommendations.

The ONRSR was formed after COAG ministers agreed to establish the national regulator in 2009.

“If we are to realise the full benefits of a National Regulator, we must achieve a nationally consistent approach to drug and alcohol management,” Herbert said. “ONRSR has completed a detailed review, engaging industry, government and unions and make its six recommendations based on robust research. COAG had faith in establishing ONRSR to regulate rail and Governments must have faith in ONRSR’s recommendations.”

The ARA says it’s met with and written to state and territory transport ministers and heads of transport departments ahead of the meeting.

“In addition, we have also written to the NSW Premier to outline our support for the ONRSR recommendations,” Herbert said.

“If we do not act now we will be missing out on an opportunity for national consistency and the national productivity benefits that national consistency provides.

“Rail continues to demonstrate its commitment to safety and the management of drugs and alcohol. This should be recognised by Transport Ministers voting in support of the ONRSR recommendations.”