EDITORIAL: Its time to deliver on rest areas

By: Jason Whittaker


It’s all well and good for Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to run around spruiking about how the Rudd Government

It’s all well and good for Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to run around spruiking about how the Rudd Government will implement a number of ‘revolutions’ designed to solve all of the industry’s woes.

But the business-as-usual approach of telling the industry about how much better off it will be under a new government is no longer acceptable.

For too long the industry has been wined and dined by various administrations only to be ignored when it came time for governments to turn rhetoric into action.

Albanese needs to stop reflecting on what the Government has already done and what the previous government failed to do.

His presentations to the shipping industry and the Melbourne Institute merely repeated what is already known about Infrastructure Australia and what the Government intends to do.

He needs to take action now.

And no more crucial is government action needed than in rest areas after a damning report found truck drivers are at risk of fatigue-related accidents because rest stops are not up to scratch.

Of course Albanese would have the industry believe it is serious about tackling the problem. But committing only part of $70 million to the issue will not solve anything. Queensland, for instance, will need to spend $75 million alone just to upgrade their rest areas.

If the Government is serious about the report’s findings, it will commit more funds to carrying out installing much-needed amenities such as toilets and drinking water which will go a long way to helping the industry comply with the stringent fatigue management regulations due to come into force in September.

Without this commitment, it is ridiculous to expect operators and drivers to meet the new regulations. Drivers cannot be expected to jeopardise their safety by sleeping on the side of a road.

The industry is waiting, minister. It’s time to pull your state and territory colleagues into line under the so-called banner of co-operative federalism and do something about the state of rest areas.

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