Opinion

Far-reaching impacts if key trucking issues unaddressed

It’s been over a month since the federal election and the key issues affecting the trucking industry won’t miraculously disappear just because we have a new government. 

These issues are stubborn and have far reaching consequences if they’re not addressed. 

One of the big issues looming on the horizon is the AdBlue shortage. Last year, the Morrison government put a temporary fix on the problem by negotiating with technical grade urea manufacturer Incitec Pivot to stay open. 

However, the new government now faces a Christmas crisis because Incitec Pivot has always said it will permanently close its doors in December 2022, meaning Australia will have no onshore source of technical grade urea which is used to manufacture AdBlue. 

This will leave Australia in a vulnerable position as it tries to bid for technical grade urea internationally against bigger nations with deeper pockets. 

The Albanese government must take decisive and swift action to head off this situation before it turns into a drama it certainly doesn’t need. 

Another issue demanding urgent attention is the impasse over the National Transport Commission’s rewriting of the Heavy Vehicle National Law.  

The Ken Kanofski review shows some signs of hope but is yet to propose anything on productivity. Industry remains seriously concerned that Kanofski’s proposals for ‘reviews’ will further exacerbate the bureaucratic quagmire. The country deserves better.

The logical thing for the government to do is to adopt the ATA’s federal Road Transport Act and end this circus once and for all.  

As a national representative body, it’s too easy to just sit on the sidelines and complain about what the government is doing. However, the ATA believes that’s not our role. We’re about solutions. 

And that’s why we’re urging the new transport minister, Catherine King to adopt key policies we set out before the election in the 2022 Election Policy Charter.   

If the federal government adopts the measures outlined in the charter, it will take control of funding and operating all major freight roads and road spending will be guided by national road service level standards.   

Australians deserve and expect a government prepared to act rather than ignore the hard issues. The ATA has proposed solutions to these issues, and we urge the new government to adopt them. 

Key safety points from the ATA charter:

• Set a more ambitious road safety target: a 25 per cent reduction of crashes involving trucks per year.

• The Australian Government funds and operates all major freight roads.

 
National road service level standards to guide road spending, rest area improvements and safety, including by enabling the use of modern truck combinations that are safer and reduce the number of trucks on the road.

• An additional 10-year, $5 billion truck roads and rest area program to bring the road network into line with the national standards.

• Full expensing for trucks and trailers to drive a sustained increase in the use of newer, safer, more sustainable trucks. The target is for 90 per cent of the fleet to be less than 10 years old by 2025.

• The Australian Transport Safety Bureau conducting no-blame safety investigations of truck crashes where there are lessons to be learned.

• A maximum of 100km/h speed limit everywhere in Australia.

• Mandatory medicals for all heavy vehicle drivers against fit for purpose medical standards.

  • David Smith is Chair of the Australian Trucking Association
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