New governments can be exciting, with a sense of optimism with fresh challenges ahead and big ideas for Australia to tackle. And the trucking industry has plenty of challenges! David Smith, Australian Trucking Association Chair writes that it is committed to engaging with the Albanese government to work through them.
The lead item on the agenda is the ATA’s proposed federal Road Transport Act which aims to break the impasse in the National Transport Commission’s review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, says . The ATA has proposed a sensible alternative policy which we urge the new federal government to adopt.
There are many other issues on the agenda, including cleaning up the road infrastructure space. Labor has committed $80 million to new rest areas and the trucking industry is keen to work with the government on the new rest areas program. We believe proper rest areas are vital if we’re to achieve the ATA’s target of zero deaths and zero injuries.
Another issue looming on the horizon is the supply of AdBlue. While the previous government secured adequate supplies through keeping Incitec Pivot open, the plant is still scheduled to close at the end of this year. This will leave Australia competing with far bigger players for AdBlue supplies on the world stage. We’ve had one very near miss with AdBlue and the government can’t afford to get this next step wrong.
A key agenda item is driver shortages which are a very real threat to the trucking industry. Australia will need thousands of extra truck drivers by 2025, but we are already short of drivers and other logistics workers. Trucking operators compete with every other industry for the same people, but are held back by poor licensing standards and an enforcement system that punishes drivers for making minor paperwork errors.
We will work with the government to tackle this issue, with proposed solutions including: better facilities to attract more women drivers; greater diversity; competency-based training and ‘blended’ apprenticeships with specialist modules; better government funding for training initiatives; protecting drivers from pernicious law ‘enforcement’; driver-to-driver mentoring and flexible job design.
We will also engage with the government on ways to strengthen Australia’s fragile supply chain, including the right infrastructure to keep our regions connected and our cities moving. We will recommend an end to the broken road access approval system and the scrapping of onerous work diaries.
Our message to the new government is clear. It’s time for strong and decisive leadership. The ATA looks forward to working with the government and achieving real wins for our industry.