State elections hinder Hume truck efficiency move

By: Rob McKay

Political realities must be taken into account if the initiative is to be successful

State elections hinder Hume truck efficiency move
NSW Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay.


Progress on increases in heavy vehicle efficiency on the Hume Highway has stalled as state elections loom, New South Wales Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay has acknowledged.

During questions after his a keynote address to the Australian Logistics Council Forum in Sydney, Gay indicated political realities were weighing heavily on the initiative, especially in Victoria where the contest is close.

"Just at the moment, the Victorian Government is just about to go into election mode and straight after that, we will be," he notes.

"I don’t think it is a distraction we need and it’s not something you do when you are working towards a good outcome."

Speaking to ATN later, Gay said NSW had been ready to go ahead but, with its fortunes on a knife-edge, the Victorian Government had been reticent.

Gay also noted that the "show cause" process that could see Cootes banned from transporting fuel  in the state if it fails would be resolved tomorrow, saying the company had been working closely with Roads and Maritime Services to avoid that fate.

Meanwhile, on Sydney road issues, Gay took issue with proponents of an extension of Westconnex to Port Botany that would cost an extra $3 billion, "potentially making the project unviable".

This while funnelling car traffic to the port that does not have it as a destination and adding congestion there at a time when only 2 per cent of all vehicles are trucks.

On rail issues, while stating that one of his key performance indicators was to double container rail transport from Port Botany by 2020, he was candid that he was "not in a bull’s roar" of achieving it. 

However, the issue was high on his agenda and he had been gaining first-hand exposure to the problems that had seen rail’s percentage of port traffic fall.

Complicating matters was that he believes the line needs duplication, a position Qube Rail Manager Ross Nacey later said his firm supports, while some in the industry say it may not be needed.

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