We are one … so why do we have many licences?

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Australian federal driving licence for grey nomads
A national driving licence would be much easier for the many grey nomads on

The current Senate inquiry into ‘Aspects of road safety in Australia’ is throwing up a range of topics with direct relevance to grey nomads. As might have been expected, submissions to the inquiry have covered everything from the impact of new auto technologies to the different considerations affecting road safety in rural areas.

However, it is a call from the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) for a review of truck driver licence assessment that might perhaps lead the discussion in a different direction, and encourage some to question once again why we don’t have a more streamlined, uniform, federal system for all vehicle registration and drivers’ licences.

“At the moment, the quality of training and assessment is highly variable,” said ATA National Manager Government Relations and Policy, Bill McKinley. “What we need for heavy vehicle driver licensing is a common set of standards.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by thousands of long-term interstate travelling grey nomads who are constantly frustrated by the differing state systems and requirements, issues they say could be solved if there were a federal driving licence and a standard nationwide vehicle registration system.

Since www.thegreynomads.com.au first reported on this ‘problem’ several years ago, there appears to have been no meaningful moves towards developing a uniform approach to simplify remote renewal of licences and registrations for those who are travelling away from their home state.

The costs involved in vehicle registration in each state still vary wildly and the current ad hoc system is far from user-friendly for people constantly on the move. A NSW driver seeking to renew his vehicle registration while in WA, for example, will have to seek out an ‘approved’ mechanic to inspect the vehicle, co-ordinate that approval being sent through to the RTA, and then hope the ‘unusual’ request doesn’t get lost in the system.

Heavy trucks which constantly travel interstate are granted ‘Federal’ licence plates but there are no such concessions for the average grey nomad.

The Australian Automobile Association has previously stated that it supports a nationally consistent approach to road rules, driver licensing and vehicle registration requirements across all states and territories, citing the inconvenience and safety concerns arising from these differing requirements across Australia for travellers as the reason.

Jeremy M knows only too well the hassles involved in reregistering his vehicle while on a two-year Big Lap.

“I can’t for the life of me understand why they have to make it so complicated and difficult for everybody,” he said. “The number of people travelling long term now is huge … surely somebody should wake up to the fact that this situation has to change. After all, we are all Australians.”

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