A national transport policy, unquestionable priority: Albanese

The need for a national transport policy for heavy vehicles is unquestionable, and the entire government, along with the transport sector, should be involved in the emissions trading scheme, Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese has said.

Mr Albanese, speaking at the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia conference in Sydney, argued the scepticism about the proposed $20 billion infrastructure spending was generated by misunderstanding the nature of the investment.

“There are some things that the Building Australia Fund is not,” he said.

“What it is not is a business-as-usual fund whereby the states will sit down and tally up we’ve got 20 per cent of the population so we’ll bid for 30 per cent of the funds and end up settling back to 20.  It’s not like that.

“What the Building Australia Fund is there for is to turn around projects, which represent nationally significant infrastructure.”

Mr Albanese said the move towards a national transport policy is to simplify and optimise operation of the transport system, which currently is not working efficiently.

He said: “There is still some resistance from elements of the bureaucracy about the need for national systems in many of these areas. But there is no legitimate argument, which says that we shouldn’t have a single national system for the regulation, registration and licensing of heavy vehicles.

“There is no argument that says it is acceptable that in 2008 we have eight rail safety regulators and rail safety investigators. In the European Union they have one, one for the whole of Europe.”

He said it was “absurd” to have train operations constricted by the state borders, different ballast water regulations, as well as ununiformed standards for ships and skills recognition. 

In terms of the emissions trading scheme, Mr Albanese said to provide businesses with certainty, “the case for delay is untenable”, and the whole of government has to be involved in the scheme.

“I’m quite stunned that some are still mucking around at the edges and haven’t yet heard the message.  

“We have enormous opportunities, as well as challenges, arising from climate change. Australia has an opportunity to be the centre for the Asia Pacific region in terms of emissions trading,” he said.

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