9/19/09

It'll take a dose of political Viagra to put COAG on the right track

WOULD you like to earn a lazy $2.4 billion? That's a year. It's Kevin Rudd's latest get-rich-quick scheme. On second thoughts, hold the quick part. And, unfortunately, it would have to be shared with 22 million other Australians. Still, in these straitened times, why look a gift horse in the mouth?
After his latest meeting with premiers and chief ministers last week, the Prime Minister announced another breakthrough in his project to fix the federation. The breakthroughs at the Council of Australian Governments came so thick and fast that this one barely rated a mention in the media. Rudd and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the meeting had agreed to ``historic'' reforms to streamline transport regulations that ``have the potential to boost national income by as much as $2.4bn a year''. There would be a single national regulator for trucks, covering areas such as inspection standards, safe driving hours, weight limits and registration.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority would become the national regulator of all commercial vessels operating in Australian waters, not just those that travel between states, as now. And there would be a national rail safety system.
What good ideas. Trucks have been travelling interstate for many years but still have to comply with all sorts of different rules when they cross borders. Trains don't stop at state borders either, at least not since the extension of the standard gauge, but nevertheless Australia has seven rail safety regulators and three rail safety investigators. Considering the US, with 50 states, has had one body responsible for rail safety since 1932 and there has been a European rail authority to harmonise the regulations of 23 countries since 2004, such a reform in Australia is, in the words of Rudd and Albanese, long overdue.
The cost of the tonnes of red tape, the duplication and the conflicting rules covering not only transport but scores of other areas add up to multiples of the $2.4bn on offer in transport. Clearing these thickets can provide a significant boost to productivity. According to Business Council of Australia president Greig Gailey, the progress COAG makes over the next 18 months in implementing such long-term reforms will determine Australia's prosperity for the next decade.
But before we get carried away with the euphoria, it pays to apply a reality check. Heads of government like to have so-called announceables following COAG meetings, but experience suggests these announcements should not always be taken at face value. The first niggling doubt emerges with a short sentence at the end of the Rudd-Albanese statement: ``It is proposed that all reforms will be fully implemented by 2013.'' That suggests there are just a few wrinkles to be ironed out. More than a few, as it turns out.
What the COAG meeting actually achieved on rail safety last week was to put the reforms into reverse, with the potential, believe it or not, for Australia to end up with more safety regulators than it has now.
A meeting of commonwealth and state transport ministers in May signed off on a single national rail safety regulator to ``provide a one-stop shop for all those operating in and on our rail networks'', as the statement issued at the time said. Victoria subsequently had second thoughts when the state's transport bureaucrats raised concerns. Did Victoria really want a national body determining safety issues on Melbourne's trams and trains? What if that resulted in a demand that Victoria spend billions of dollars on its rail systems to comply with national rules?
The advisers were persuasive enough for Premier John Brumby to take the objections first to a meeting with his state and territory counterparts, and then to COAG last week. Instead of telling Brumby where to get off, Rudd meekly went along. As a result -- and contrary to the misleading Rudd-Albanese announcement -- COAG failed to agree on a single national regulator. In the words of the detail buried deep in the COAG communique, there will be ``further consideration of the scope and form of the regulator following receipt of advice at the end of 2009 from the standing committee on transport on specific safety requirements within jurisdictions, especially in relation to urban systems and the interface with interstate and freight operations''. You can bet the Victorian bureaucrats had a celebratory cappuccino after that one.
In plain English, what the communique means is that the Victorians want their own regulator for metropolitan rail. The other states may start thinking what's good for Victoria will do them nicely, as well. As Bryan Nye, chief executive of the industry body the Australasian Rail Association, puts it, under the Victorian proposals ``we will end up with a bigger mess than we have now''. Take a freight train carrying grain from rural Victoria to Geelong. Part of its journey is on the Melbourne metropolitan network, where it could come under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan regulator as well as the national one. ``Sheer madness,'' Nye says.
Still, nothing much surprises Nye and others in the rail industry. Administration of the railways is a metaphor for everything that is wrong with the Australian federation. The reforms on rail safety are as blindingly obvious as a uniform rail gauge, but that doesn't stop them being next to impossible to achieve.
Federal and state governments reached agreement as long ago as 1996 on the need for ``a cost-effective, nationally consistent approach to railway safety''. In 1999, an independent review commissioned by governments recommended a single national rail safety regulator, a finding since echoed by the Productivity Commission and the National Transport Commission. In 2006, COAG identified as one of six hot spots warranting priority action the harmonisation of rail and road regulation, including safety. All governments are supposed to have passed national rail safety legislation two years ago but most missed the deadline and Tasmania and the Northern Territory have not yet gotten around to introducing their bills. The acts that have passed all include variations from the national model. For example, NSW decided it would require two drivers on interstate freight trains, meaning that an extra driver has to be sent to Victoria or South Australia to get on board before trains cross into NSW. It would be funny if it weren't so serious.
Fixing the federation is one of Rudd's professed priorities and he calls COAG ``the workhorse of the nation''. There has indeed been progress but it has been more in the process than in terms of achievements. As public servants present and former from Rudd down will tell you, the right structure has to be put in place and it is the result that matters.
But in some areas, such as managing the Murray-Darling Basin, time is running out and the delays are causing real harm. There has been no end to the benchmarks and goals and interim targets for tackling everything from indigenous disadvantage and homelessness to standardising business reporting, but precious little yet in real resources on the ground.
In transport, agreement on a single regulator for trucks is significant, as are new heavy vehicle user charges. But like many other issues, including uniform national occupational health and safety laws for businesses operating across state boundaries, the timetable has slipped. The operation of the new arrangements is often years away and compromises have cast doubt on the eventual result.
What COAG needs is a good dose of political Viagra. If that doesn't work, Rudd should drop the nice guy approach and flex some of the commonwealth's muscle. If Victoria is so keen on fencing off its metropolitan rail system from big bad government in Canberra, then Rudd may like to suggest that it do without the commonwealth funding as well, including the $3.2bn being kicked in for a new express line from Werribee to the city. Then we would quickly find out states' rights, too, have their limits.

39 comments:

Robert said...

The website http://www.besthealthmed.com. aims at helping out people seeking comprehensive health information on health related issues such as hair loss, weight loss, sleep problems, erectile dysfunction, quit smoking et al and the resource page of the site functions in sync with the same objective by including health related useful links.

RubinVoelker said...

笑口常開~~天天開心.........................

寶貝別哭 said...

以簡單的行為愉悅他人的心靈,勝過千人低頭禱告........................................

季玉 said...

台灣性愛自影片性愛巴士線上看sex性愛85cc性愛紅爺性愛h漫畫圖20歲色情貼圖520sex貼片520情色影片520貼影區5230貼片5278 影片區5278cc影片5278cc論壇5278無碼5278貼片5278貼圖片區5278貼圖區5278圖片5278網520sex我愛78論壇4u成人卡通4u成人小遊戲24h免費貼圖區2goav35cc3d 透視美女遊戲3d 透視遊戲3d成人短片3d成人影片無碼美女視訊免費桌布下載熊貓貼圖區杜蕾斯成人

寧年寧年 said...

Gather roses while you may. ....................................................

志冠少菁伶義 said...

自然是上帝的藝術。......................................................

少菁 said...

good~ keep sharing with us, please....I will waiting your up date everyday!! Have a nice day........................................

GeraldF_Rotter雅慧 said...

人必須心懷希望,才會活的快樂,日子才過得充實,有意義,有朝氣,有信心。........................................

昱廷昱廷 said...

文章很棒~感謝!!..................................................

RonnyLitchfie6521 said...

激情成人聊天室情色成人辣妹胸部辣妹視訊露奶辣妹自拍三點全露內衣秀台灣成人貼圖成人電影院三點全裸免費視訊辣妹av圖裸體自拍色情聊天美女視訊g點色情訊息淫女火辣av辣妹圖片免費視訊聊天室情色天空調情上床圖片裸體自拍走光照片走光視訊情色成人18成人區火辣美女成人vcd成人影片下載本土av性愛情慾淫妹美女聊天性愛聊天室女生自慰影片免費看a圖淫婦巨乳辣妹視訊成人女生自慰方法免費情色限制級a片穿幫情色下載情色網站

said...

認清問題就等於已經解決了一半的問題。.............................................

婷妏 said...

Beauty, unaccompanied by virtue, is as a flower without perfume..............................................

0612ConsuelaC_Hovey said...

加油!充實內函最重要!Beauty is but skin- deep..............................................

韋成 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德..................................................

TerryM又來ontane said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.............................................................

歐英傑 said...

錢,給你帶來歡愉的日子,但不給你帶來和平與幸福..............................

千惠千惠 said...

思想與理論,貴呼先於行動,但行動較思想或理論更高貴......................................................................

宛齊陳 said...

Where did you purchase this product?..................................................

文群文群 said...

欣賞是一種美德~回應是最大的支持^^.................................................................                           

常映 said...

您的blog蠻不錯的耶,祝你快樂哦!期待您的更新!.................................................................                           

育財育財 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!............................................................

佳皓佳皓 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

玉婷良DGFHFJ瑋黃吳 said...

Very good stories~~ Thanks for ur sharing~~!!..................................................................

吳婷婷 said...

Quietude is the crown of life.............................................................

蕙春蕙春 said...

看到大家都留言-我也忍不住說聲---加油..................................................................

韋志韋志 said...

什麼樣的學習計畫並不重要,重要的是你是什麼樣的人。............................................................

陳韋夏陳韋夏益東富益東富 said...

good, excellent, nice job!!............................................................

蕙春蕙春 said...

要經常發表文章 最愛你了呦..................................................................

王美妹 said...

當我微笑時,世界和我一起微笑;當我快樂時,世界和我一起活躍。..................................................

lowe施cole鈺man駿 said...

大肚能容,了卻人間多少事,滿腔歡喜,笑開天下古今愁。..................................................

鄭信弘 said...

愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。.................................................................

佳陳容 said...

當我微笑時,世界和我一起微笑;當我快樂時,世界和我一起活躍。..................................................

君黃怡黃怡 said...

不要去想沒拿到的東西,多想想自己手裡所擁有的..................................................

琇白林林琇白林林 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

邱思吳佳順翰 said...

愛情不是慈善事業,不能隨便施捨。......................................................................

陳倩江陳倩江陳倩江 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention..................................................................

名雅萍雅萍青 said...

認真的看完~~幫你推一下............................................................

1615 said...

當最困難的時候,也就是離成功不遠的時候。..................................................

48684 said...

成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人.................................................... ............