Uni­fied laws? Still a joke

Big Rigs - - OPINION -

UNI­FIED laws and reg­u­la­tions have long been a dream for ev­ery­body in the road trans­port in­dus­try.

We live in a con­sti­tu­tional com­mon­wealth where states have in­di­vid­ual rights that have been fought over fiercely since fed­er­a­tion 116 years ago.

But the clauses in the con­sti­tu­tion that pro­tect cross-bor­der trade while hold­ing the in­di­vid­ual rights of states and ter­ri­to­ries have been noth­ing but an im­ped­i­ment to the long-haul road trans­port in­dus­try.

I re­mem­ber fed­eral trans­port min­is­ter Peter Mor­ris, dur­ing the Hawke Gov­ern­ment in the 1980s, be­ing con­tin­u­ally frus­trated by the states, of­ten sup­ported by ma­jor freight for­warders who pre­ferred the muddy arrangement be­tween states so they could push driv­ers and owner-driv­ers to work times that to­day are con­sid­ered crim­i­nal.

Not that many of us whinged about those long hours back then. It was a job that had to be done and we did it with a cer­tain anti-estab­lish­ment pride.

A so­lu­tion to these prob­lems didn’t come un­til the next cen­tury with the estab­lish­ment of the NHVR, but the no­tion of na­tional uni­fied trans­port leg­is­la­tion has not worked out.

While I to­tally sup­port and re­spect Sal Petroc­citto in his at­tempts to bring this about, we still have a patch­work af­fair re­ly­ing on leg­is­la­tion to be passed in one ju­ris­dic­tion, throw­ing it into the air and hop­ing that other ju­ris­dic­tions sign up and buy the deal.

But gen­uine uni­fied na­tional law? If it could not be driven by Peter Mor­ris, who lived and breathed trans­port, it is noth­ing short of a joke to imag­ine that the cur­rent in­sipid gov­ern­ments will ever drive it through to a pos­i­tive con­clu­sion.

It is to be ex­pected as amend­ments are made to the pri­mary leg­is­la­tion in Queens­land that there will even­tu­ally be re­ac­tion by other states that could be­come rogue ju­ris­dic­tions.

There is noth­ing to stop it.

THIS IS the last issue of Big Rigs where I will be edi­tor. I’ve pro­duced 20 is­sues this year and have en­joyed do­ing it, even though there have been some chal­lenges. It’s time to pass on the ba­ton.

Kirstin Payne will be the new edi­tor. I have worked with Kirstin through this year and she has the driv­ing en­ergy, tenac­ity and en­quir­ing mind re­quired by a good jour­nal­ist.

Through the year she has soaked up the is­sues and the emo­tion of road trans­port. I wish her all the best in her new role.

And I thank you, the reader, for oc­ca­sion­ally pick­ing up one of my sto­ries and read­ing it. See you down the track and stay safe. — Bruce Honey­will

PHOTO: BRUCE HONEY­WILL

YOUNG BLOOD: Big Rigs new edi­tor Kirstin Payne will take up the chal­lenge.

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