The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has announced a suite of safety and productivity reforms for the logistics sector that will aim at reducing the industry’s expenses by up to $30 billion. The reform packages cover rail, road freight and commercial shipping and are as follows:


Rail reform


The three outcomes agreed upon by the states at the COAG meeting for the rail sector are as follows:


  • promotion of safety and safety improvement in the delivery of rail transport;
  • improved productivity and efficiencies from consistent national requirements; and
  • decreased regulatory burden


The reforms that will be required to achieve the goals have been identified as the following:


  • the introduction of national rail safety law for the safety regulation of Australian rail operations;
  • the establishment of an independent national rail safety regulator that administers the national rail safety law and maintains, monitors and enforces rail operators’ application of, and compliance with, appropriate safety standards; and
  • an expansion of the role of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to cover rail safety investigations nationally.


The council agreed that South Australia will pass the national rail safety legislation and any amendments as agreed by the Standing Council. The legislation passed by the South Australian Government will then be enacted on a national level, with the separate states adopting the legislation.


The states have agreed to work cooperatively to create the national rail safety system, including any changes to Commonwealth, State and Territory laws and administrative arrangements that are necessary to facilitate them.

More information on the Agreement on Rail Safety Regulation and Investigation Reform can be found here


Heavy vehicle reform


COAG have published its planned reform package for the heavy vehicle sector in Australia, identifying a number of areas in the industry that are in need of reform.


The council agreed to the following planned outcomes of any future reforms put in place:


  • removal of inefficiencies from inconsistent jurisdictional requirements;
  • lessened regulatory burden and a reduction in the costs of compliance; and
  • enhanced safety, productivity and efficiency.


The states agreed to the formation of a new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will be an independent body established under the National Law and governed by a Board that will operate in accordance with that law.


The council specified the following policies to achieve the reforms:

  • an independent NHVR that administers the National Law in each State and Territory as further specified in Part 3 (National System) and Schedule B (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator arrangements) of this Agreement;
  • agreed national standards for the delivery of heavy vehicle regulatory services and activities as further specified in Part 3 (National System); and
  • service level agreements between the NHVR and each State and Territory to deliver heavy vehicle regulatory services and activities to support the implementation of the National System as further described in Part 3 (National System) and Schedule B (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator arrangements).


The council agreed that any national law reform will be first enacted by the Queensland Parliament and will be adopted by the other States and Territories as legislation.


The states also agreed to refrain from alterations from any law that is passed from the Queensland Parliament into National Law.

More information on the Agreement on Heavy Regulation and Investigation Reform can be found here


Commercial vessels


COAG identified safe commercial vessel operation and the effective, consistent regulation of the area as crucial objectives.


The council agreed to the following outcomes for commercial vessel industry reform:


  • improved safety and decreased risk to the public, commercial vessel owners, operators, crew and the environment
  • reduced complexity and increased certainty for commercial vessel owners, operators, surveyors and suppliers regarding the requirements applying to design, construction, equipment, operation and qualifications/crew certification for commercial vessels across Australia; and
  • a more efficient national market and reduced costs for business and labour through eliminating barriers to the transfer of labour and commercial vessels between jurisdictions.


To achieve the reform outcomes, the council agreed to the establishment of the following:

  • national law for all commercial vessels operating in Australian waters, including appropriate transitional provisions as required;
  • a National Regulator that develops, maintains, monitors and enforces national standards for commercial vessels;
  • a national compliance and enforcement system, consistently applied, for all commercial vessels; and
  • a national database of commercial vessels linking ownership, vessel details, inspection and survey history, incidents and operators to provide better data as a basis for improved risk management and compliance monitoring. Over time, it is expected that this will improve safety levels and enable more efficient use of resources.


The states have agreed to work co-operatively to create a national system that will include any changes to Commonwealth, State or Territory laws and arrangements.


The Federal Government has announced it will enact and maintain a Standing Council which will enact the agreed upon national law.


States and the Northern Territory will legislate to apply the national law in their respective jurisdictions to the extent necessary to ensure that the national law applies to all commercial vessels in Australian waters.


The council also agreed to the following outlines of any future national law:

  • developed in accordance with the national maritime safety standards agreed by the Standing Council;
  • developed and maintained collaboratively by Australian maritime authorities or transport agencies under leadership of the National Regulator and with full visibility of new proposals by AMG; and
  • maintained in accordance with the provisions of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Best Practice Regulation – A Guide for Ministerial Councils and National Standard Setting Bodies, or its successor document.


The council also outlined the creation of a new National Regulator with the following responsibilities:

  • Develop and maintain national standards, and implement, monitor and enforce the national law
  • Provide advice to the Standing Council on national commercial vessel safety and operational issues, as described in this Part;
  • Develop and implement operational policy for the national system in consultation with States and Territories
  • Undertake consultations

More information on the Agreement on Commercial Vessel Regulation and Investigation Reform can be found here