ATA releases election wish list for trucking industry

Both sides of politics need to invest more in trucking industry while ruling out greater cost burdens on operators: ATA

By Brad Gardner | July 20, 2010

Both sides of politics need to deliver greater investment in the heavy vehicle industry while ruling out greater cost burdens on trucking operators, the Australian Trucking Association says.

The ATA today released its election wish list ahead of the August 21 federal election, calling for more rest areas and greater expenditure on the road network and pledges from Labor and the Coalition not to mandate tracking devices or a new road charging scheme.

The Coalition has already promised 500 new rest areas over 10 years if elected, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard is yet to announce any funding beyond the 2011 – 2012 financial year when the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program expires.

"Driver fatigue is one of the key challenges of the industry. That’s why the ATA is calling on political parties to make a commitment to continue funding truck rest areas after the existing government rest area program ends in 2011-12," ATA Chief Executive Stuart St Clair.

The ATA has reiterated its call for both sides of politics to reject a shake-up to truck taxes that would lead to the industry being charged based on mass, distance and location. The scheme was recommended by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, but the ATA says it will cost $1 billion in installation costs and $800 million annually in ongoing fees.

It also says monitoring devices should remain voluntary, despite a recent paper released by the National Transport Commission citing a push by some governments for mandatory tracking devices to ensure operators comply with road laws.

Following a report by Infrastructure Australia that recommended greater investment in roads in and around Australia’s ports, the ATA has called for more money to be poured into roads to connect routes to markets and ports.

Seizing on the slogans used by Labor and the Coalition, St Clair says any talk about "moving Australia fo0rward" or "standing up for real action" must include investment in the heavy vehicle sector.

"The industry moves three-quarters of the domestic freight task, including every item on the shelves of every supermarket," he says.

And while higher productivity vehicles such as super B-doubles are rolled out for limited use in areas such as the Port of Melbourne and the Green Triangle, the ATA wants the incoming government to promote greater use of the vehicles to meet the growing freight task.

"The advanced safety technology used in modern trucks means that they are safer than most cars," the ATA’s election brief to both parties says.

The ATA has also called for financial incentives for trucking operators such as accelerated depreciation on trucks and trailers to encourage the adoption of new and safer vehicles.

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