Chester appointment greeted with anticipation

Safety message over the years seen as reason for confidence in new minister

Chester appointment greeted with anticipation
Darren Chester’s safety focus is welcomed.


Organisations with the most interest in the success of incoming infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester have been quick to greet the appointment favourably.

ATA chair Noelene Watson says Chester is a vocal supporter of improving road safety through safer drivers, safer vehicles and safer roads.

"In January, minister Chester called for a national approach to reducing the road toll, including improving the road network and harmonising enforcement to optimise road safety across state borders," Watson says.

"These issues are close to our heart, too.

"The ATA looks forward to working with Minister Chester towards these goals, particularly through the ATA’s existing commitments to continued progress on reforming the heavy vehicle national law and developing a stronger national approach to driver licencing and training.

"The ATA will also continue to lobby for the registration of industry codes of practice such as TruckSafe under the heavy vehicle national law, as a way of introducing co-regulatory arrangements for safe operators.

"We know that accidents can be avoided through the use of higher productivity vehicles to move freight, rather than using many smaller trucks for the same load.

"By improving road access and permissions for these vehicles where appropriate, industry and the community can both benefit from improved safety and freight productivity."

The ATA is also looked forward to working with Chester on road pricing reform program.

"Before the Government implements road pricing reform, it first needs to address the flaws in the current system, which have led to the trucking industry being overcharged since 2007," Watson says.

"In our pre-budget submission, the ATA recommended that the government address its share of the overcharging – more than $100 million over the next two years – by reducing the road user charge and increasing funding for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and the Bridges Renewal Program.

"This would result in more truck rest areas and more productive infrastructure, which would continue to aid the safety and productivity of Australia’s trucking industry."

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) believes Chester has the understanding needed to tackle transport issues.

"Australia faces major transportation and infrastructure challenges, and we congratulate the minister on his appointment to this new role, and look forward to working with him to resolve critical issues for our industry to continue to prosper," VTA CEO Peter Anderson.

"It is also encouraging that the vital infrastructure and transportation portfolio will continue to be led by an individual like Mr Chester who, as a Nationals MP, is all-too-familiar with the challenges of regional Australia with respect to road and rail deficiencies.

"I look forward to working with the minister and his team, and identifying and implementing solutions to the infrastructure and transportation challenges that the VTA and its membership are passionate about solving for the betterment of our industry and the broader economy."

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) board chairman Bruce Baird says his body is keen to start working with the new minister.

"I congratulate Mr Chester on his appointment and assure him that the Regulator is ready to work with him and all states and territories on continued reform for Australia’s road transport industry.

"As Member for the regional seat of Gippsland, Mr Chester would appreciate the importance of an efficient national road freight task and its role in giving regional economies the best chance for growth.

"In a statement recently, Mr Chester also highlighted his passion for road safety and I note his commitment to a renewed national effort to reduce the road toll.

"I’m looking forward to working with Mr Chester and the Coalition Government to boost road safety for all road users, reduce red tape for the heavy vehicle industry and deliver consistency across borders."

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) backed three new appointments related to its issues, in Chester, senator Fiona Nash as minister for regional development and Angus Taylor, the new assistant minister to the prime minister for cities and digital transformation.

"The management of local infrastructure and transport links and facilitating community development across the country are core functions of local government and we are pleased to see the federal government continue its strong focus on these important policy areas," ALGA’s president, mayor Troy Pickard, says.

"Local government is responsible for around 75 per cent of the nation's roads and these roads are vital for every Australian to get to work, get their kids to schools and for industry to deliver freight to markets.

"It's important that there is a strong partnership between the federal and local government to maintain these services and ensure the continued and consistent coordination of national policies at the local level to deliver positive outcomes for Australian communities."

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