Chester to be sworn in soon as transport and infrastructure minister

Former shadow parliamentary secretary for roads will have lighter load than Truss

Chester to be sworn in soon as transport and infrastructure minister
Barnaby Joyce and Darren Chester.


Darren Chester is unlikely to speak about his new roles until he is sworn in on Thursday, his office says.

Chester remains assistant minister for defence for the moment, having gained the infrastructure and transport portfolios in prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle announced on Saturday.

From the ministerial responsibilities of outgoing National Party leader Warren Truss fellow National and now deputy leader Fiona Nash gains the regional development portfolio, while Liberal Paul Fletcher remains minister for major projects, territories and local government.

Meanwhile, Angus Taylor is the new assistant minister to the prime minister for cities and digital transformation following the resignation of Jamie Briggs.

"Darren will make a formidable contribution in this portfolio," Turnbull says.

"He has been one of the younger stars in the Parliament and recognised as such for a long time."  

With new Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce retaining agriculture, Turnbull saw fit to retain the Coalition convention of making a National politician transport minister.

Hailing from Gippsland and a former journalist and chief of staff for senior Victorian Nationals politician Peter Ryan, Chester does have experience with transport and infrastructure issues.

He was shadow parliamentary secretary for roads and regional transport between September 2010 and September 2013.

In that time, Chester spoke in favour of creating the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

However, he was critical of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill to create the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, saying "irrefutable proof of the link between safe rates and road safety" had failed to emerge.

He took governments of all parties to task for focusing on legislation and regulation rather than the state of the roads themselves.

"It was interesting that the first thing the road transport operators in my electorate raised with me was the safety of the road environment," he told federal parliament is 2012.

"They did not use the words 'holistic approach to road safety', but that is what they are talking about.

"They are talking about the complete picture rather than picking out one part of the jigsaw and pretending we have got an answer for it.

"What I have said to this government, to the previous Labor government in Victoria and to the current Victorian coalition government is that we need to build safer roads to meet the demands of the larger vehicles that are using our roads today—not just the heavy vehicles in the commercial sector but the large recreational vehicles which are on the road.

"In addition we need to invest more in the provision of decent rest areas and decent facilities for the travelling public and the heavy vehicle sector.

"It is very hard to expect a transport operator to just pull over and get a bad night's sleep on the side of the road. We have to provide decent facilities for them to actually get some rest when they are resting."

As a member of parliament, Chester has pushed the case for truck and recreational vehicle rest areas in his electorate.

Last year, he praised the upgrading of four of them.

"These sections of road represent some of East Gippsland’s most vital freight routes, which is why providing safe rest areas and turning areas is so important," Chester said.

"This investment in safe, practical and convenient facilities will make a real difference for all road users by preventing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads."

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