When governments change, the prospect of a new minister can be unsettling. Sometimes, that new minister has no experience of the portfolio, and it takes them time to get up to speed.
Fortunately, new Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, is well versed in the issues facing our industry, having been the Shadow Minister since 2019.
She will need every shred of that industry knowledge because there are key challenges affecting the trucking industry.
At the top of the agenda is ‘the circus’ – otherwise known as the National Transport Commission’s rewriting of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. It’s been dragging on for the past three years with no result. To break the impasse, we’ve proposed the federal Road Transport Act and we urge the new government to adopt it.
As expected, we’ll also recommend an end to the dysfunctional road access approval system and the scrapping of paper work diaries.
An ‘iceberg right ahead’ is the AdBlue shortage. The Morrison government put a last-minute band-aid on this issue by negotiating with technical grade urea manufacturer Incitec Pivot to stay open.
However, the plant is still due to close this December and Australia will be forced to bid for AdBlue on the world stage, against far bigger economies than ours.
The last thing this new government needs is another AdBlue shortage. This issue is one that is not going away, and the government must ensure that we have supply.
Another issue continuing to plague the trucking industry is ongoing driver shortages.
The most immediate issue though, is the decision of the previous government to apply the fuel tax credit change disproportionately to the heavy vehicle industry. I have written to the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, seeking an opportunity to discuss this critical matter.
The new government has their work cut out for them and we are looking forward to engaging with them to tackle the issues that need leadership, strength and vision to resolve.
- David Smith is Chair of the Australian Trucking Association