Mixed reaction to ministers’ progress on key industry issues

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) said it was a step in the right direction to hear there would be more industry consultation on the long-running review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

Last week, the ATA slammed any suggestion it is happy with the progress from the National Transport Commission on the overhaul, which began back in 2018.

Then, on Friday, February 11, the infrastructure and transport ministers announced they’d had a “productive discussion” about the review and emphasised the importance of close engagement with industry.

The ministers agreed there needs to be further consultation before bringing back more detailed policy work for consideration at their next meeting.

“We welcome this announcement because the ministers understand this is an industry issue and it’s vital they work with us,” said ATA chair David Smith. “The focus must be on industry and benefit the movement of goods and services throughout Australia.

“Quite honestly, we’re furious that this hasn’t been done properly. Because of our frustration, we’ve drafted a version that puts industry at the very heart of the legislation.

“We are working as quickly as we can on this but we’re having to make up for lost time because of the failure of the National Transport Commission to make any progress.”

Smith added that while the latest news around the HVNL review is promising, other big issues remain such as supply chain and driver shortages.

“We know that national cabinet has got the transport ministers working on these issues and a resolution simply can’t come soon enough for the industry.”

WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, was disappointed to learn that there was no specific discussions around the rampant supply chain issues at Friday’s meeting.

“Ongoing Supply Chain disruptions at global, national & state level impacting communities, businesses, economy. Our freight sector (all modes) is overstretched & facing a myriad of issues,” he tweeted at the weekend.

“Fed and State transport ministers met y/day but NO mention.”

Cam Dumesny, the CEO of the Western Roads Federation, was even more scathing in his reaction on social media.

“It is an absolute disgrace that ongoing supply chain disruptions & the impact this is having on the road transport industry & drivers was not discussed @ Friday’s meeting of state & fed transport ministers,” he wrote.

“If they consulted with industry they would learn how serious this is!”

Other topics on the agenda at Friday’s meeting were the National Road Safety Action Plan 2021-25, regulation around automated vehicles, the National Rail Action Plan, and reforms to the disability transport standards.

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