Archive, Industry News

Industry looks to work with Abbott government

ATA underlines Coalition carbon tax repeal and eyes better roads and road access, and truck taxes and charges

September 9, 2013

Transport industry lobbies gave a hearty welcome to the incoming federal Coalition government, with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) particularly pleased at the promised repeal of carbon tax provisions.

Action against the carbon tax was a key election platform of Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott and Deputy Prime Minister-elect Warren Truss, who is tipped to hold on to the infrastructure portfolio once ministries are finalised.

“Most trucking operators are small businesses. They do not have the market power to pass extra costs on, and Labor’s tax would have just made their lives harder,” ATA Chairman David Simon says.

“The Coalition victory has freed the industry from the threat of this extra tax.

“The threat is gone even if the Senate tries to block the repeal of the carbon tax laws.

“The extension of the tax to truck fuel is not part of the existing laws and would have required new legislation.”

The ATA looked forward to working with the Coalition on the other key issues affecting the industry, including better roads and road access, and truck taxes and charges.

“The Coalition has put forward a strong plan for building roads and improving how they are planned, and has also pledged it will not move to a satellite-based system for tracking and billing trucks without extensive industry consultation,” Simon says.

“Australia’s governments are developing this satellite based system now, which would see every one of Australia’s 534,000 trucks fitted with special tracking devices.

“There needs to be much better consultation about how much this plan would cost the industry and the economy. Official figures show the plan would drag Australia backwards: it could have economic benefits of minus $500 million.

“Frankly, it needs to be put back in the drawer until there is a proven business case.”

Simon paid tribute to the work of the outgoing Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, saying: “During his six years in the infrastructure portfolio, Mr Albanese oversaw the construction or upgrading of 7,500 kilometres of roads, including the completion of the Hume Highway duplication.

“On his watch, the federal government started funding truck rest areas for the first time, with 95 new rest areas or rest area upgrades now completed.

“He oversaw the creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and introduced excellent arrangements for consulting with the industry.”

For its part, the Council of Small Business Australia (Cosboa) put much store in foreshadowed action on contract fairness and other burdens.

“The other policies around red tape removal and proper assessment of processes foisted on small business should also create positive change,” the organisation says.

“The one thing that was not concentrated on in the election was workplace relations.

“This needs a long hard looking at. Penalty rates are too high and the system is still too complicated for small business people.

“Tony Abbott did promise that he would set up a help line for people employing for the first time, which is good and something we have asked for over the years.

“Importantly he also said that workplace relations should be about practicality not ideology – music to small business ears.”

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) reiterates its expectations regarding the Inland Rail project pledge.

“The Inland Rail project will complete an economic missing link in our nation’s freight network,” ARA CEO Brian Nye says.

“We will now also be looking for early confirmation of existing funding for a number of other rail freight projects that are crucial to meeting the Nation’s growing freight task.”

These projects include rail developments at Port Botany, the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, Advanced Train Management Systems (ATMS) technology, freight rail revitalisation in Tasmania, the Scone level crossing project and ongoing improvements for the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor.

“ARA looks forward to discussing other rail infrastructure projects with both the Federal and State Governments, which will not only assist in the national freight task but will also relieve congestion on the urban networks in our major cities through separation of freight and urban rail lines,” Nye adds.

State leaders were keen to talk up Abbott’s promise to be an “infrastructure prime minister”, with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman underlining his Bruce Highway and the Toowoomba Range crossing commitments and Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine insisting the election proved the popularity of Melbourne’s contentious East-West Link project.

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