The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called on the federal government to invest $5 billion over 10 years to fix freight routes and dangerous level crossings, as well as to build more truck driver rest areas.
While releasing its 2024-25 pre-budget submission, ATA chair David Smith says trucking is vital to the Australian community and that more work needed to be put into making these freight routes safer.
“To keep truck drivers safe, the federal government needs to fix dangerous level crossings,” Smith says.
“We need a concerted effort to fix rest areas, because the task is huge and drivers aren’t seeing enough in the way of results.
“The federal government must also invest in developing a defined all-weather network, with a supporting secondary network pre-approved for use, in the wake of road network closures due to fires, floods and crashes.”
To achieve this goal, Smith says the federal government should be responsible for all funding and operational responsibilities on these major freight routes through the national highways program.
“All the projects under the program should be linked to results, such as improving safety and enabling the industry to increase its use of high productivity trucks,” Smith says.
“Increasing the use of high productivity trucks would reduce total vehicle movements, reduce congestion growth and lower the cost of freight.”
Smith says high productivity trucks are also more likely to be safer, quieter and produce less emissions.
“The government’s immediate priority should be to fund the road upgrades needed to allow 35 metre modular A-doubles on the Hume Highway in New South Wales,” Smith says.
“These trucks with two trailers can carry 44 pallets of freight, compared to 36 pallets in the 26-metre-long B-doubles that are commonly used now.”
The ATA’s submission also argues that the government should re-establish temporary full expensing for trucks and trailers and modify the upcoming closing loopholes bill to support productivity and innovation.
It also wants the federal government to redesignate the truck driving skill level under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) to enable eligible migrants to access truck driving.