Local, state and territory governments – rather than individual truckies – will be the ones allowed to directly pitch the newly formed rest area steering committee for a slice of the $140 million in project funds.
Committee chair, WA Senator Glenn Sterle, concedes that rule came as a surprise to most of the nine-strong group, made up four organisational representatives and five truck drivers, when they met for the first time in Canberra on February 20-21.
But overall, he said it was positive first gathering with every member rapt to be “at the table” and have the privilege of representing their peers.
“Whatever happens it has to be proposed by a state or local council, so I’d strongly urge states and councils to go to the website and see what the guidelines are for a submission,” said Sterle.
“We can’t just make things up and say this is what we want to do. I’d love to do that, but I have my fingers crossed that there will be a mountain of proposals put forward to us.
“The committee will have a rating schedule, that’s no different from any other government grant, and the committee will be able to sit around and weigh up all the options.”
Sterle said there will be a couple of tranches of funding for proposals, the deadline for the first closing in June and the second in September.
The committee will then assess and rate each one with the final decision on green lighting proposed sites resting with Transport Minister Catherine King.
Other notable guidelines to surface at the initial meeting were the fact that there is a $5 million limit on each project and that there will be a 50:50 funding split with state governments on city sites.
Committee member and high-profile driver, Rod Hannifey, said the process will take longer than anyone expects, but is looking forward to kicking goals for truckies.
“We will still be asking for their input that will support applications,” he said.
“They should also use the normal numbers that we use to report road conditions. That will feed back to us and that will put more pressure on those people to apply and help us to get things going along a path.”