Mulder presents cautious defence of truck trial


The Victorian Government has played a very straight bat to this week’s broadside from former roads minister Tim Pallas over Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs). <br /><br /> Public Transport and Roads Minister Terry Mulder has sought deflect the attack on the proposal being developed by VicRaods to extend the trial into metropolitan freeway peak-hour traffic. Pallas has cast the idea as a “secret Baillieu Government plan to roll out ‘monster trucks’ throughout Melbourne suburbs”.

By Rob McKay | September 29, 2011

The Victorian Government has played a very straight bat to this week’s broadside from former roads minister Tim Pallas over Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs).

Public Transport and Roads Minister Terry Mulder has sought deflect the attack on the proposal being developed by VicRaods to extend the trial into metropolitan freeway peak-hour traffic.

Pallas has cast the idea as a "secret Baillieu Government plan to roll out ‘monster trucks’ throughout Melbourne suburbs".

The Victorian Transport Association views Pallas’s statement as provocative and cynical and took him to task about it yesterday.

Mulder says Pallas had been working on the issues related to the combination he was minister.

For his part, Pallas notes that Mulder and Ports Minister Denis Napthine had been highly critical of the trial before the election.

Mulder insists the Government is yet to see the VicRoads proposal and that, once lodged, the Government would progress with community and industry consultation and ensuring safety oversight was in place.

In comments that echoed similar position Pallas took when he was minister, Mulder appears keen to reassure what both sides seem to regard as an electorate that is skittish about the initiative.

"Those issues would have to be taken into consideration," Mulder says, adding that "we’re not going to ram anything down anyone’s throats".

"We have to be very conscious of safety and public amenity," he says.

At the same time, Mulder raised a point that Pallas had also emphasised in his time as minister - that, with container traffic through the port of Melbourne expected to more than double in the next 25 years, higher truck productivity is crucial.

But
Mulder also echoed Pallas’s cautious approach as minister, saying the Government would not rush into any decision and that such things "do take some time".

VicRaods tells ATN the Next Generation Higher Productivity Freight Vehicle Trial that began in September 2009 trial is running successfully in the Green Triangle Region, but has to date attracted little industry participation in the port of Melbourne precinct.

"VicRoads is currently working with the Victorian Transport Association, Victorian Road Freight Advisory Council and the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council to finalise a proposal for an extension of the trial," the organisation says.

"Local Councils that may be affected by an extension and expansion of the trial will also be consulted.

"While no changes to the arrangements for the trial are currently proposed in the Green Triangle Region of Victoria, some changes to the operating conditions, for example peak hour restrictions on metropolitan freeways, are being considered for the trial in Melbourne.

"Vehicles participating will continue to be required to meet a suite of safety requirements and will be GPS tracked under the national Intelligent Access Program (IAP) scheme.

"These changes are being considered to encourage greater participation in the trial.

"Permits for vehicles currently operating under the trial will be renewed under existing arrangements until decisions are made about the future of the trial."

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