Give us a seat at transport reform table: Trucking Association

By: Jason Whittaker

The trucking, rail, shipping and aviation industries should be invited to attend future meetings of the Australian Transport Council, according

The trucking, rail, shipping and aviation industries should be invited to attend future meetings of the Australian Transport Council, according to a new submission to governments from the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

The ATA’s submission sets out a series of recommendations about what should be in Australia’s new national transport policy. The Australian Transport Council, which consists of the Australian, state and territory transport ministers, is developing the new policy.

ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair says including the peak industry bodies in the ATC and its working groups would help add real world experience to government decision-making.

"It would give us a better chance to explain to ministers that they need to get serious about the transport reforms they have promised," he says.

The ATA has highlighted a number of areas the ATC should concentrate on, including:
  • Expanding road access for higher mass limit vehicles, particularly on the ‘last mile’ of local road that leads to our customers’ doors. The ATA says the last mile problem is becoming a serious bottleneck for exporters in regional areas
  • Establishing a B-triple network that links the east coast capital cities. Two B-triples can do the work of five semi-trailers, so a useable B-triple network would enable the industry to carry more freight with a smaller number of trucks, according to the ATA
  • Appointing a single decision making body on performance-based standards (PBS), so a company that designs a better truck for a particular job can use it throughout Australia.
"After the 2020 summit, the Prime Minister specifically pointed out that governments need to step up to the mark and fix practical transport challenges like these," St Clair says.

"Our plan to increase the transport sector’s involvement in ATC and its working groups would help governments step up to the Prime Minister’s mark and focus on practical issues.

"By working together, we’d be able to deliver a safer and more productive transport system. We’d also be able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions."

The ATA’s submission calls on ministers to include strong safety measures in the new transport policy, including:
  • Significant regulatory incentives, including financial incentives, to encourage trucking operators to join audited safety accreditation schemes like TruckSafe.
  • Strong regulatory measures to improve heavy vehicle speed management and compliance, including a ban on importing heavy vehicle speed limiter tampering devices.
  • Implementing the heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws, including chain of responsibility provisions, to ensure drivers are not pressured by their schedulers or customers to press on when they are fatigued. The new laws will have an important role in improving the industry’s safety, the ATA says, but they will only work effectively if ministers agree to implement them consistently.
  • Establishing a comprehensive system of rest areas across Australia’s highways and in urban areas.

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