Australia, Transport News

Assistant transport minister discusses government plans at VTA Conference

Carol Brown’s speech at the VTA State Conference over the weekend discussed a range of transport issues the federal government is currently tackling

At the annual Victorian Transport Association (VTA) State Conference in Phillip Island, assistant federal transport minister Carol Brown discussed the future for the transport industry in both Victoria and Australia.

In her speech at the conference, Brown discussed the major issue facing the local industry in workforce shortages.

“One of the first actions of the federal government was hosting the Jobs and Skills Summit last September,” Brown says.

“The outcome of it was the formulation of the Employment White Paper, which will be released in September this year.”

Brown says the Surface Transport Roundtable also allowed the government to discuss the transport industry’s unique circumstances, including a skills shortage, an aging workforce and an image problem.

She says the issue is devastating on workers, businesses and the economy, with the federal government progressing on several initiatives to begin countering these issues.

“We are providing 480,000 fee-free TAFE and community-based vocational education places as set out in our budget,” Brown says.

“The implementation of the 12-month Skills Agreement between the federal, state and territory governments began in January, with negotiations on a five-year agreement already underway.

“I’m proud that my home state of Tasmania is leading the way in rolling out a Certificate 3 in Driving Operations. Truck drivers have also been listed on the skilled migration list since the beginning of this decade.”

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Brown says Austroads is also reviewing the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Licensing Competency Framework to harmonise licence training to produce safe heavy vehicle drivers, with Brown acknowledging the VTA’s engagement with the issue.

Austroads will soon be asking governments to consider a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement on potential reforms.

Brown also discussed climate commitments at the conference, saying the government’s Net Zero Unit will be supplemented by providing $20 million to the Hume Hydrogen Highway from Melbourne to Sydney.

“Lastly, one of our election commitments was to provide an additional $80 million for new and upgraded heavy vehicle rest areas across the country,” Brown says.

“In December I appointed Senator Glenn Sterle to Chair of the Heavy Vehicle Rest Area Steering Committee, which will advise and set priorities for the initiative.

“The makeup of the Steering Committee is the first of its kind, made up of truck drivers and industry experts – we are making sure those who work on our roads are front and centre.”

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