The Australian Road Rules were introduced in 1999 to replace various different State road rules with a single uniform set for all of Australia.
A great idea, but in practice it has problems. Consultation is done badly, ignoring anything that does not agree with the prejudices and agenda of some bully members of the ARRMG Committee.
Closing off submission dates early, using anecdotes instead of evidence or simply demonstrating ignorance of the issue have been demonstrated in the past twelve months.
It also appears that the ARRMG just like to fiddle with the Rules for the sake of justifying themselves.
However, they do get some Rule changes right.
Road Rules Process
The Australian Road Rules Maintenance Group (ARRMG) provides advice to the National Transport Commission on Road Rules.
The NTC, as “manager”, but not member of the ARRMG, submits changes to the Australian Transport Council, which includes the Minister of every State and Territory If voted upon and accepted by ATC, these changes will become law in every State and Territory
Methodology of Rules Changes
The Australian Road Rules were approved by Australian Transport Council in January 1999 and published by the National Road Transport Commission in October 1999 in a version which incorporated amendments approved by the Australian Transport Council on 30 June 1999 and 11 October 1999.
When approving the principle Rules in January 1999, the Australian Transport Council also approved a strategy for maintaining the Rules, which included the establishment of a maintenance group, Australian Road Rules Maintenance Group (ARRMG) to amend the Rules to ensure their ongoing relevance.
Amendment packages are developed by the ARRMG which is convened by the National Transport Commission (formerly the National Road Transport Commission) and comprises representatives from State and Territory Transport Agencies and Department of Transport and Regional Services (Commonwealth), Police, and Standards Australia.
An abridged methodology is as follows:
- the National Transport Commission calls for discussion issues and proposals for change from the ARRMG
- issues are discussed and proposals put forward for change
- a Regulatory Impact Statement and draft amendments are developed and agreed to by the ARRMG
- the Regulatory Impact Statement and draft amendments are release for public comment/consultation (6 week period)
- all comments received either to the National Transport Commission or individual jurisdictions are considered by the ARRMG
- modifications are made to the Regulatory Impact Statement and the draft amendments as required and they are then forwarded to the Transport Agencies Chief Executives for endorsement.
- any issues the Transport Agencies Chief Executives have are addressed and their endorsement sought.
- the Regulatory Impact Statement and draft amendments are then forwarded to the Australian Transport Council for approval.
During the public comment/consultation phase jurisdictions are urged/encouraged to consult as widely as possible with their stakeholders. Documents are also placed on the National Transport Commission’s web site as well as being forwarded to any National representative body.
Unfortunately, this process doesn’t work very well at all. There are agendas at work to avoid actual consultation and in ignorance, or using anecdotes, pursue some weird dogma.
There is lack of clarity in enunciating the objective for regulation, poor understanding of motorcycle related issues and hence, many rules create problems with compliance and interpretation for enforcement.
The States have no obligation to agree on road rules and fiddle with them at a local level, creating problems with interstate travel. What is legal in one state is illegal in another.
Helmet wearing road rules are a case in point, with 21 separate changes between 2010 and 2016, with only one state managing to create a rule that was capable of compliance by all riders.
By the time the NTC is ready to perform the public consultation process, the freight train of implementation is up to full speed via the processes of AUSTROADS (a private company and hence not bound by COAG processes for Better Regulation) and public consultation by the NTC can miss the point entirely.