Pavey pledges truck focus in infrastructure plan

By: Cobey Bartels, Photography by: Cobey Bartels


Tackling Sydney’s congestion issues and catching up on lagging road developments on NSW agenda

Pavey pledges truck focus in infrastructure plan
Minister Pavey gets aboard the immaculately-restored Miners Transport Western Star.

 

Newly-appointed NSW roads, maritime and freight minister Melinda Pavey outlined her truck-focused infrastructure plan during an optimistic opening speech at this year’s Livestock Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA) conference.

Pavey kicked things off by reminiscing on her time around trucks growing up, an anecdote that emphasised her appreciation of the transport game.

"Growing up on a dairy farm, a couple of dad’s best mates were truck drivers…and so I was just reflecting as we were flying in today, how I used to love when I was a kid, travelling on the road," Pavey says.

"We’d play on the CB’s and all that sort of stuff.

"So, I understand how important this industry is to the economy…to the people and to our communities throughout regional NSW."

Former roads minister Duncan Gay was popular within the road transport community, a reality Pavey doesn’t shy away from.

"I know you’ve had an excellent relationship with Duncan Gay and, be assured, that relationship will continue with me and our parliamentary team into the future," she says.

"You’re front and centre… you’re the people that get our bulk freight and our livestock to market."

A central point in the new minister’s address was the NSW government’s commitment to moving road transport forward through a range of freight network infrastructure projects.

Regional areas are a common theme throughout these projects, backed by a $543 million program to assist local councils in fixing country road networks.

"Fixing country roads, it provides targeted funding to local councils to repair and upgrade regional roads," Pavey says. 

"We can’t stress how important these roads are in connecting NSW.

"The program helps to fund projects which better connect local and regional roads to state highways and key freight hubs such as silos, saleyards, railheads, supermarkets, distribution centres, industrial parks and depots.

The NSW government’s roads spending has increased steadily in recent years and Pavey’s strong focus on upgrading the freight network suggests this is likely to continue.

"Just to give you an idea of the scale of the increase in focus in expenditure, and in money going to country roads – since we came to office in 2011, we have increased the roads budget in NSW by 105 per cent and 65 per cent of that is going to regional NSW.

"In Labor’s last year in office the country roads spending was $2.2 billion – on average since we’ve been in office it’s been $1 billion more each year.

A $210 million bridge upgrade program has also been signed off, improving access for heavy vehicles across regional NSW.

"We’re replacing or upgrading old bridges over the next five years at 17 key locations across the state.

"By replacing and strengthening old timber bridges, this allows for a higher mass weight vehicle to cross."

While Pavey notes it isn’t ready to roll out at the LBRCA conference, the NSW government is in the process of delivering a co-funded $10 million livestock truck wash project.

"I was hoping I might be able to have the announcement of the successful locations of fixing the country truck washes," she says.

"Be assured, it is almost there and it’s coming - this will be really important to your facilities to help remove bottlenecks which constrain logistics business.

"They also protect NSW against the spread of weeds and disease.

"The NSW and Australian government are each contributing $5 million over the next two years to provide co-funding to eligible councils."

Pavey’s vision for the freight network includes tackling Sydney’s congestion issues and catching up on lagging road developments, with a focus on improving the greater economy. 

"One of the challenges we face is a lot of catching on what hadn’t been done, but as well as planning for the future and that extends also through the Sydney network and a lot of that congestion busting work we’re doing there involves toll roads.

"We all have to work together as a state to improve our productivity, to improve our economy."

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