OUR SAY: Will a Daley dose cure Roozendaal blues?

NSW has a new roads minister, opening the door for the State's trucking lobby to finally get a look in

By Brad Gardner

The Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) NSW branch manager Jill Lewis must have left work on Monday with a spring in her step.

Even the ATA’s head honcho in Canberra, Stuart St Clair, may have felt the urge to break into a song and dance.

Despite the bad press over the political upheaval in NSW that saw a new premier installed, it is all good news as far as the ATA is concerned. Right-wing Labor powerbroker and one half of "the dodgy brothers" Eric Roozendaal has moved on from the roads portfolio to treasury.

The factional warrior was a massive thorn in the side of the peak trucking group, refusing to deal with anything ATA-related because he saw it as a front for the National Party. He also had a particular dislike of St Clair.

The impasse meant Lewis was excluded from key government-industry meetings and was unable to effectively lobby for action on roads, rest areas and regulations.

Either Roozendaal had to go or the ATA had to look at divorcing itself from the NSW branch. Premier Nathan Rees’ decision to reshuffle his cabinet saved the lobby group from contemplating the move.

The portfolio was handed to Roozendaal’s parliamentary secretary, Michael Daley, who comes with some form of transport experience from his time spent at the NRMA. But what does his ascension mean for the trucking industry?

Unlike Roozendaal, who was quite happy to sacrifice policy work in favour of slinking around in the backroom playing politics, Daley is seen by some in the industry as pragmatic politician interested in developing outcomes to benefit the industry.

Port Botany also falls in Daley’s electorate, which means at the very least he should be aware of and concerned about the congestion levels and inefficiencies in and around the port.

And his parliamentary rhetoric indicates some form of respect for the trucking industry.

"We all share a respect and admiration for our truckies, who day and night move the goods upon which we rely for life," Daley is quoted as saying when the Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 was being debated.

You can bet Lewis will be reminding Daley of that. She has already contacted his office to inform his staff of her three main policy concerns: rest areas, fatigue laws and congestion.

And she will make her ninth application for a seat on the Transport Operators Liason Group after Roozendaal blocked all of her previous attempts to be heard.

And Daley must respond. Lewis is willing and able to drive key reforms but she cannot do it alone. If Daley is really committed to delivering for the industry he will end the ridiculous stance of the former roads minister and engage with the State’s peak trucking body.

And as for Roozendaal? For the sake of NSW one can only hope he shows more interest in finance than he did in transport.

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