Promises fly at trucking convention

Harmonised road transport laws, 500 rest stops and a new employment service were just some of the promises made at the recent Australian Trucking Convention.
Harmonised state laws
The multiple state road transport laws are costly and frankly unacceptable, the chair of the Labor Party’s Infrastructure, Transport, Rural and Regional Caucus Committee, Jim Turnour, said.
“The Rudd Government is mindful of inconsistent and costly regulation that is costing you time and money. And if it’s costing you time and money that means it’s costing this country time and money,” Mr Turnour said.
“Right now, road freight operators may have to comply with multiple state laws on any given road trip. This is costly and frankly unacceptable.
“That is why the Australian Transport Council agreed in February of last year to undertake work on streamlining the regulation, operation and development in land transport policy and it’s why each Australian transport minister has agreed to investigate a national system of heavy vehicle regulation, registration and licensing.
“At that time, the Rudd Government recognised the importance of relieving infrastructure bottlenecks and sensibly reforming regulation.
“Now, just more than a year later, and with the world profoundly altered, it is this government’s contention that it has never been more important to eliminate the costly and complicated regulatory regimes conferred by our federated system.
“The Australian Transport Council will report to the Council of Australian Governments shortly, moving us all closer to serious reform.
“I urge industry to continue to think big and lobby your state and territory governments,” he said.
Truss: Coalition would build 500 more rest stops
The Federal Coalition would, if elected, build an extra 500 truck rest stops over ten years, the Shadow Minister for Transport and Leader of The Nationals, Warren Truss, told the Australian Trucking Convention.
“The government’s so-called Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Package of $70 million over four years will not go far enough,” Mr Truss said.
“We do not know how many rest areas this amount will build – the government won’t tell us. Even if its builds eighty – a very generous guess – it is not enough.
“In last year’s parliamentary debate regarding the road user charge, we put up a set of amendments that directed the government to build enough rest areas to bring our highway system into compliance with the National Transport Commission Guidelines.
“The coalition stands by its amendments that the government rejected. We will build an additional 500 roadside stops over the next 10 years at an approximate cost of $300 million to bring the 22,500 kilometres of Australia’s national highway into broad compliance with the guidelines of the National Transport Commission.
“That means, in the long term, operators like you will not be pressing down the highway worrying about an impending breach of the fatigue laws while you look for a roadside stop that isn’t there,” Mr Truss said.
New employment service
The government’s new employment service will help trucking industry employers find the skilled workers they need, the Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O’Connor, said at the Australian Trucking Convention.
“The government’s $4 billion new employment service – Job Services Australia – begins on July 1 and will replace the current outdated, fragmented and confusing Job Network,” he said.
“Job Services Australia gives job seekers flexible, personalised support to help them gain and keep a job. It also opens up more opportunities to gain skills – in the transport sector and other sectors.
“It will also encourage providers of employment services to work closely with industries like the trucking industry, to help them find the appropriately skilled workers they need,” he said.
The new service will have stronger links to the government’s Productivity Places Program, which provides free training places to jobseekers in areas where there is a skills shortage.
Minister O’Connor said that more than 5,000 people have already completed warehousing qualifications under the program, 2,700 people have completed certificates in road transport, which include driver training for light, medium or heavy rigid trucks as well as semi-trailer operations.
He said that a further 4,500 people have enrolled in transport and logistics courses under the program, illustrating the strong demand for work in the industry.

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