Good drivers and ineffective RTA in Coalition's sights

NSW Coalition commits to rewarding good truck drivers and bringing the RTA into line if it is elected

By Brad Gardner | March 23, 2011

The NSW Coalition has vowed to reward good truck drivers and rein in the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) if it wins government on March 26.

In a written response to a questionnaire from the NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association, the Coalition says it will introduce its Fair Go for Safe Drivers strategy.

Under the "carrots and sticks approach", the Coalition says it will halve licence fees for those with an offence-free driving record of at least five years.

The scheme will apply regardless of how long someone renews their licence for, and the Coalition says a similar scheme has been operating in Victoria since 2006.

It says a Barry O’Farrell-led administration will direct the RTA to focus on its core business and pursue "common sense solutions".

The Coalition criticised the running the of the department, saying whether it is building roads, managing the network, collecting taxes or operating speed cameras "the RTA seems to a little bit of everything, but none of it all that effectively".

Its safe driver strategy will coincide with the establishment of Restart NSW, a dedicated infrastructure fund the Coalition claims will help reduce traffic congestion.

According to the party, $5 billion will be allocated to infrastructure projects beyond what is already slated in the forward estimates. About a third of the funds will be spent directly on regional projects.

The group will be joined by a new independently-chaired body called Infrastructure NSW, which the Coalition says will allocate infrastructure projects based on need instead of political agendas.

If elected, the Coalition says it will unlock up to $1 billion in funds for local councils to upgrade local infrastructure and resolve access issues plaguing trucking operators.

With work continuing on the move to national regulations, the Coalition says it will strive to achieve cross-border consistency and strike a balance on freight efficiency and community concerns.

"We want fatigue laws to work not just in terms of safety, but also in terms of fairness to the truck driving industry," the party says.

The ATA NSW called for point-to-point speed cameras to be applied to all motorists, but the Coalition responded by saying it believes a high visible police presence, better education and rewards for safe drivers was the best way to improve driver safety.

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