A Labor government will invest $80 million to build new and upgraded rest areas for truckies if it wins the federal election next month.
In the first industry-specific policy announcement from the opposition, Labor said the rest areas would be built and designed after close consultation with truckies, rather than relying on associations and government agencies for input.
“I want the truckies to tell us where they want the trucks bays and what they expect in the bays,” said WA Labor Senator Glenn Sterle, also the Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety.
“I can’t think of any way better to deliver the outcomes than we want to achieve than by talking to the men and women who use them.
“With the greatest of respect of our mates who represent the associations, they’re not truck drivers so wholly and solely, this is the domain of truck drivers and truck drivers only.”
Sterle, a former truckie himself, said the rest area issue was one of the main discussion points to come out of his wide-sweeping Senate inquiry.
“It was one of those ones that was loud and clear, in fact to the point that others are starting to jump on board to the bandwagon talking about rest areas, but sadly there is nothing in the budget for them.”
Sterle also told Big Rigs that the $80m will be delivered “straight up”, not over three or four years and be part of Labor’s first budget expected to be announced in November, should they win next month’s federal election.
Sterle said early costings reveal that it would take $5m to deliver new road train assembly areas, with toilets and showers.
“If the state-of-the-art is $5m, this will still build 16 state-of-the-art rest areas we don’t have, strategically placed on freight routes where we have the traffic.”
In a joint statement with Sterle, Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said she had nothing but total respect for Australia’s truck drivers.
“Day in, day out they travel across our continent to keep our economy moving,” said King.
“Providing quality rest areas is the least we can do to support this essential workforce.
“A well-rested truck driver is a safe truck driver. That’s why an Albanese Labor government will work with the industry to deliver truckies the facilities they need.”