Labors $70m trucking safety plan a joke: Shearer

By: Jason Whittaker


The Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan is a half-hearted attempt at improving safety in the trucking industry,

The Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Plan is a half-hearted attempt at improving safety in the trucking industry, according to South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) Chief Executive Steve Shearer.

He has ridiculed the plan as a "joke" and a government smokescreen designed to fool the public and sections of the trucking industry into thinking Rudd Labor is serious about tackling heavy vehicle fatalities.

"Of course we welcome the road safety package, but anyone who pretends that it’s enough or it’s close to enough is a fool or just naïve," he says.

Under the plan, $70 million will be spent trialling tachographs, constructing rest stops and upgrading freight routes over four years. As such, the Government will spend less than $20 million per year, which Shearer decries as grossly inadequate.

"Somebody needs to tell the federal Minister just how much it costs to build a rest area and point out to him that by the Government’s own standard, having a rest area every 35 to 50km, would mean we need 22,000 rest areas on the national highway network," he says.

Shearer says the Government will only come up with between 40 to 50 rest stops a year if it spends $20 million annually, bringing into question whether it can reach its figure of 22,000 because there are currently 968 rest stops scattered along the national highway.

"That means it is only going to take 420 years and that’s if they spent all of that $70 million on rest areas," he says.

As such, Shearer says the plan is only an attempt to avert attention from the decision made by the Australian Transport Council to increase registration and fuel charges.

"It is not a serious approach; it is just a joke," he says.

Shearer also took aim at the Federal Government’s approach toward dealing with the trucking industry. He says SARTA, along with other peak bodies, is not being consulted.

Shearer wants Albanese to sit down with industry officials and "hear the realities because some of the advice he is getting is frightening".

In a similar vain to Transport Workers Union Federal Secretary Tony Sheldon, Shearer urged the Federal Government and its state counterparts to work together to develop a comprehensive approach to road safety.

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