The National Transport Commission today released its Twice the Task report in response to forecasts that Australia's land freight transport task will double from 2000 to 2020. The review outlines an ambitious reform agenda, with an underlying objective that the overall impact of freight movements in 2020 should be no worse than at present, and ideally better.A number of major transport reforms identified by Twice the Task were announced by the Council of Australian Government (COAG) on 10th February, 2006, including a performance-based approach to heavy vehicle regulation and a review of transport pricing. The NTC report recommends an integrated package of productivity-focused reform, which builds on the COAG program.NTC Acting Chairman Michael Deegan said the impact of freight growth will be greatest in urban areas; particularly around ports, intermodal terminals and distribution centres. Although rail has an opportunity to increase market share, particularly on long distance corridors, road freight will remain the dominant mode."I commend COAG members for embracing this new round of transport reform to underpin Australia's future prosperity," Mr Deegan said."Doing nothing is not an option. One in four vehicles in Australian cities will be carrying freight unless we act now. Twice the Task outlines a clear way forward to optimise transport productivity for each mode and constrain the impact of freight growth."A change in the overarching objective of regulation, from protecting infrastructure assets to optimising economic, social and safety outcomes underpins the NTC's vision for transport reform. This includes the introduction of safer and more productive SMART1 heavy vehicles; vehicle tracking to ensure SMART trucks remain on approved freight routes; and direct-user charges linked to the level of road wear."Currently, heavy vehicle productivity is constrained by red tape and archaic rules which are often blind to technology advances in the transport industry. We're embracing the Information Age and moving the focus of regulation to outcomes - what the vehicles can do," said Mr. Deegan.
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