Saturday 11th Jul, 2020

Transport reforms too slow, commission says

Photo: Creative Commons / ScottDavis

The Productivity Commission says reform in road, rail, air and marine transport has been “disappointingly slow,” and has failed to deliver expected productivity gains.

A draft report into transport sector reforms, released today by the Productivity Commission, found in the eight years since reforms were ordered, only “modest” gains have been realised.

“After eight years, we have largely achieved national consistency in the safety regulation of heavy vehicles, boats and trains but there is still much more to be done,” Productivity Commissioner Paul Lindwall said. “The pace of reform has picked up recently but more action is needed to deliver the expected safety and productivity gains.”

The primary outcome of the transport reforms has been improved safety in the road and rail sectors, with fatalities in the rail sector falling by 50 per cent over the past ten years, and crash rates for heavy vehicles continuing a long-term decline.

Outside, of that, the draft report says gains from reform are modest, with the main benefits likely to be lower compliance costs for businesses, and a lift in heavy vehicle productivity from improving access to local roads.

“Achieving the productivity gains predicted in 2011 will require much more than regulatory reform of safety,” Lindwall said. “Governments need to continue and, in some cases accelerate, broader reforms to infrastructure investment, its use and management, and pricing of access.”

The Commission encouraged governments and industry to reap the benefits of new technologies to both safety and lift productivity. “Governments will have an important role in facilitating data collection and sharing across governments and industry,” it added.

The Australian Logistics Council welcomed the draft report’s findings, noting it was in line with the ALC’s submission that more urgent reform was needed.

“The Productivity Commission has correctly noted that although reforms to date have undoubtedly yielded some productivity benefits, there is still unfinished business on the table,” ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said.

The draft report is open for comment until 15 January 2020.

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