A NATIONAL body to regulate vehicles heavier than 4.5 tonnes opened its doors this week, marking a step towards uniform laws.Until now, each state and territory has had different laws relating to the regulation, compliance and administration of heavy vehicles, including freight trucks.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will be responsible for administering the uniform Heavy Vehicle National Law, which aims to manage all heavy freight vehicles under one set of laws.
The national laws will be effected by June 1, 2013.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said the VFF had concerns about the costs of the new regulations on farmers and small truck operators.
According to the VFF, the new laws will increase regulatory costs in Victoria by up to $644,000 a year, an increase of 47 per cent.
"Between 60 and 70 per cent of freight movement is in intra-state, not inter-state, so it's going to be an extra cost on farmers and small business trucking operators,'' Mr Tuohey said.
NHVR chief executive Richard Hancock said the new "streamlined'' regulations would benefit farmers.
"Transport operators and farmers, big and small, will benefit from the NHVR's streamlined administration and decision-making processes and service standards across Australia,'' Mr Hancock said.
"Applicants will only need to apply to one place and the NHVR will project manage an access permit from start to finish.
"Currently even if an applicant does not go inter-state, they may need to deal with multiple road owners within a state for a single permit.''
Transport company DRT Logistics managing director Scott Splatt said the new heavy vehicle regulations would increase financial pressure on individual growers.
"There are a lot more costs on the company. There are a lot more costs through the regulation - especially in the registrations,'' Mr Splatt said.
Mr Splatt said freight costs for farmers will eventually have to increase to meet the costs of the new regulations.
"You're just absorbing costs all the time, and in the end, something's got to give,'' he said.
"It's a real down-the-line effect.''