Truss resignation to usher in ministerial reshuffle

Trade minister Robb to go as well while tributes are offered for both figures

Truss resignation to usher in ministerial reshuffle
Warren Truss in the skills in the DECA DriveSim heavy vehicle simulator.


A period of political upheaval amongst federal transport-related ministers is continuing with infrastructure minister Warren Truss about to retire officially and a ministerial reshuffle expected at the weekend.

The move, announced at the same time as trade minister Andrew Robb’s impending departure, means three ministers with influence on transport, infrastructure and supply chains, will have gone in less than two months, following the political implosion of former infrastructure and former cities minister Jamie Briggs in December.

Who takes over the ministry from Truss in the lead-up to the federal election is a matter of conjecture, though National Party leaders usually have the portfolio in Coalition governments.

Industry bodies the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Australian Logistics Council paid tribute to Truss.

ATA chair Noelene Watson says Truss had been a long-term friend of the trucking industry.

"Coming from a farming family in Queensland, Warren has always understood the importance of transport and infrastructure, particularly for people in regional Australia," Watson says.

"In Opposition, Warren moved to disallow a 10 per cent increase in the road user charge paid by truck and bus operators, after the industry pointed out that the system used to calculate the charges underestimated the number of trucks in the road.

"Now Opposition parties move disallowance motions all the time, but Warren was so determined he fought it to a tied vote.

"In the end, the Deputy Speaker had to use her casting vote to prevent the charging determination from being overturned.

"In office, Warren went on to freeze the road user charge in 2014 and 2015, after the National Transport Commission officially confirmed the problems with the charging system.

"Warren has been a steadfast supporter of reducing the red tape confronting trucking operators, including through his support for reforming the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

"The reforms will cut red tape and improve safety for trucking businesses and drivers.

"Warren has also championed infrastructure investment.

"In his speech in Parliament, he spoke proudly about his contribution to upgrading the Bruce Highway, as well as his work on connecting the east coast capitals with a four lane highway.

"But I say that he can also be proud of the Bridges Renewal Program – which is eliminating productivity choke points – and continuing the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

"Warren’s passion for the transport sector was always on show when he joined the industry for our yearly convention.

"I remember that one year he threw away his prepared speech and spoke, off the cuff, about the engineering, commercial and financial issues involved in grain transport in NSW. You could have heard a pin drop.

"He then impressed a pretty experienced crowd by demonstrating his truck driving skills in the DECA DriveSim heavy vehicle simulator.

"On behalf of the whole trucking industry, I’d like to thank Warren for his tireless efforts during his 26 years in federal politics. We wish him all the best."

ALC MD Michael Kilgariff acknowledged the work done by both Truss and Robb.

"Deputy prime minister Warren Truss has made a substantial contribution to the freight logistics industry over his many years as the relevant minister in the Howard, Abbott and Turnbull Governments," Kilgariff says.

"He is one of our longest serving ministers with responsibility for the transport and infrastructure portfolio, and during his tenure he has displayed a strong commitment to delivering the road and rail links Australia needs to keep our economy strong, particularly in rural and regional Australia. 

"Mr Truss’s understanding of the significant contribution efficient supply chains make to the economy has underpinned the Government’s strong investment commitment to the logistics sector, which ALC has valued. 

"In particular, we have welcomed his support for inland rail, Sydney’s second airport, and the Moorebank intermodal freight terminal, and we anticipate these important projects receiving ongoing financial support from Government.  

"ALC has also valued his ongoing commitment to Infrastructure Australia which was established by the former Labor Government. 

"The onus is on his successor to take forward the recommendations Infrastructure Australia makes in its 15-year Infrastructure Plan.

"ALC thanks him for his contribution to the sector and wishes him well in his retirement."

 On the departure ofRobb, Kilgariff highlighted his efforts on liberalising trade.

"Mr Robb was instrumental in securing a number of significant international trade deals for Australia, most notably the Transport Pacific Partnership and a number of free trade agreements, including with China," he says. 

"His understanding of the need to maintain and enhance efficient national and international supply chains was fundamental to these deals, and in his discussions with our trading partners.

"His steadfast commitment to securing lasting economic benefits for Australia under these deals has been highly valued by the logistics industry and we acknowledge his enormous work in this area."

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