Labor’s first full-year budget presents opportunities for the heavy vehicle industry, but has fallen short in other areas, according to Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA).
HVIA chief executive Todd Hacking said the demand for heavy vehicles has been remarkably resilient, however, between inflation, supply chain issues and the lack of available skilled workers, our manufacturers have struggled to meet demand.
“Bringing the budget back to surplus is great, but there are ongoing challenges with inflation still a pressing concern in terms of denting business confidence,” said Hacking.
Hacking said announcements around skilled migration quotas is vital to replenish and grow dwindling stocks of trades people.
“We welcome increased focus on skilled migration in the Permanent Migration program, which HVIA called for in the last election; this is a key promise being delivered by the Albanese government.
“Other positive announcements include investment and programs encouraging women to take up trades, plus plans to expand the number of fee free TAFE and vocational education training packages.”
Hacking said a pipeline of new tradespeople needs to be built and maintained from multiple angles.
“HVIA and our members are proactive in promoting career paths in the heavy vehicle industry to school students.
“In fact, we will be hosting close to 2000 students from around 50 schools to the Brisbane truck Show next week.
“They will watch the country’s best young automotive technicians compete in the HVIA National Apprentice Challenge, and hear from careers ambassadors who will talk to them about the diverse and rewarding career paths our industry offers.
“On top of that, however, we need to bring in tradespeople from overseas. Australia’s population is growing, our freight task is growing and with that, demand is growing.
“Investment in skilled migration is an investment in Australia’s economic wellbeing, and in securing our manufacturing sovereignty, which the Labor government has highlighted as one of its foundation policies.”
Last week HVIA joined with other industry organisations to advocate for a comprehensive, clear, fully-funded transition plan to assist the industry in the coming years.
But this budget does not adequately address this call to action and HVIA will continue to advocate strongly to ensure the available investment support the industry transition, Hacking said.
“The industry is doing its part, you only need to come to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show to see the largest showcase of zero-emissions commercial vehicles in one place in the southern hemisphere, but government needs to match this enthusiasm with serious investment,” he said.