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Federal election report card: HVIA rates LNP v ALP

Still undecided over who to vote for in the federal election tomorrow?

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia may be able to help.

The peak industry body went to both major parties and asked them to comment on HVIA’s major election policy priorities.

Here’s what they got back.

Safety

Under the heading of safety, HVIA’s policy roadmap asks that the next Government improve the uptake of road safety related technologies.

Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, Senator Glenn Sterle responded on behalf of Australian Labor (ALP):

“Labor has always supported road safety targets and put in place the nation’s first Road Safety Strategy when previously in office in 2011.

“Labor is always interested in new approaches, including technological approaches, to reducing the road toll.

“Labor understands that data quality is a longstanding issue in road safety, and accordingly we will look for opportunities to ensure we can over time extract better quality road safety data from states and territories in return for funding of road projects. The vital mission of driving down road death and trauma will be greatly assisted by having more standard data across the jurisdictions. Better data allows better targeting of the sites, circumstances and behaviours that impact on road crashes, and will help inform strategies to achieve set targets.

“Truck drivers travel day and night to keep Australia moving. But despite their importance to our economy and our way of life, drivers are too often forced to put up with a serious lack of suitable rest areas. Quality rest is essential for safe trucking, but in order to get quality rest, you need quality rest areas.

“So an Albanese Labor Government will invest $80 million to develop new, top class rest areas across the country. Specific projects will be selected in close consultation with the men and women who have their hands on the steering wheel day in and day out.”

The Coalition Government says it will continue to assess the most pertinent updates to Australian Design Rules on safety technologies, and encourage their adoption, including by mandate where appropriate.

“With the goal of improving heavy vehicle safety more broadly, the Coalition Government has committed $650 million to the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) from 2013-14 to 2025-26, with an ongoing commitment of at least $65 million per year from 2025-26.

“The objectives of the HVSPP program are to reduce the proportion of road accidents involving heavy vehicles by targeting heavy vehicle driver fatigue, and increase productivity by enhancing the capacity of existing roads. The HVSPP invests in heavy vehicle safety including road and bridge infrastructure, targeted road safety upgrades and heavy vehicle rest areas.”

HVIA response:

The ALP’s response does not address our proposed policy actions. The ALP is always supportive of fleet drivers, so the focus on rest areas is appropriate and responsive to those operators. HVIA would have appreciated deeper thought on the issue but will work hard to ensure the focus of heavy vehicle safety is broadened should the ALP form government.

The broader statements about funding collaboratively with state Government’s is broadly consistent with actions from Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030.

The Liberal National coalition (LNP) have made progress on safety technology, and our requests are a part of a broader suite of initiatives that should see the light of day if the current Government is re-elected. That said, it has been nine years…

Improve the uptake of road safety related technologies
LNP 4/10 | ALP 2/10

Sustainability

Proactive Government policy is good for business and essential for the environment. HVIA has made three policy statements under the heading of sustainability:

  • Immediate steps to support the transition to low and zero emissions heavy vehicles
  • Channel investment into targeted energy supply and infrastructure – not consultants and feasibility projects
  • Remove obstacles to ZEHV uptake – Don’t let Australia fall behind

Senator Sterle says Labor’s Powering Australia Plan includes Driving Australia – support for EV charging stations and – particularly relevant to the heavy vehicle sector, hydrogen hubs to support hydrogen powered heavy vehicles.

“This will reduce Australia’s reliance on imported fuels,”  he said.

“Labor will also prioritise a strategic maritime fleet that would assist with fuel security.

“Labor has also announced it would invest some $1.3 billion in our nation’s central freight highway backbone, upgrade roads in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia to keep people and goods moving safely and efficiently.”

In 2021, the Coalition Government released its Future Fuels and Vehicle Strateqv, backed by a commitment of $2.1 billion for low emission vehicle and future fuel technologies and:

  • $250 million for the Future Fuels Fund which includes support for commercial and fleet vehicles.
  • Investment in 400 ultra-fast charging stations were funded and are rolling out across regional and urban Australia.

HVIA response

If the ALP form government, HVIA will work hard to ensure that the future of the heavy vehicle industry is ingrained in the ALP policy.

Meanwhile the LNP have begun to invest in real infrastructure and regulation is currently on the table. All that said, this area scores pretty evenly across the board.

Immediate steps to support the transition to low and zero emissions heavy vehicles
LNP 6/10 | ALP 7/10

Channel investment into targeted energy supply & infrastructure
LNP 8/10 | ALP 8/10

Remove obstacles to ZEHV uptake – Don’t let Australia fall behind
LNP 7/10 | ALP 6/10

Manufacturing and productivity

We are asking the Government to support Australian made vehicles and combinations to improve road transport productivity.

Our manufacturing and productivity statements are:

  • Streamline supply chains to avoid local production, delivery and support bottlenecks
  • Don’t allow cheap overseas imports – not suitable for our unique transport challenges – to displace Australia’s innovative heavy trailer designers and builders
  • Allow high productivity vehicles to take the burden off Australia’s growing freight task.

The Morrison Government says it supports advanced vehicle manufacturing including the development of electric batteries, processing of critical minerals used in batteries, composites manufacturing and mining, and defence and space vehicle manufacturing through the Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

In the 2022-23 Budget the Coalition provided an additional $500 million under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative and $200 million through the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative to support manufacturing and supply chains in regional Australia.

The Coalition Government has committed nearly $900 million to the Bridges Renewal Program from 2015-16 to 2025-26, with an ongoing commitment of over $100 million per year from 2022-23.

Other options being considered include reducing the volume of individual permits, and moving to a higher share of publicly available Notices.

The Coalition will also support accelerated road access decision making by continuing to progress digitisation and harmonisation of national land transport network asset data and heavy vehicle access management systems, to enable road managers to provide consistent and timely access consent.

Senator Sterle says Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund provides a crucial financing vehicle to specifically drive investment in projects that will build prosperity across the country, broadening our industrial base and boosting regional economic development.

“The $15 billion Fund will provide loans, guarantees and equity to support projects that create secure well-paid jobs, drive regional development, and invest in our national sovereign capability, broadening and diversifying Australia’s economy.

“Australia has suffered nearly a decade of policy drift since the Liberals goaded the car industry to leave. We rank dead last in the OECD when it comes to manufacturing self-sufficiency.

“We need to revive our ability to make world-class products and, in the process, create secure well-paid jobs for Australians.“

HVIA response

The ALP’s response gives us a good starting point to work with a Labor Government. It is light on specifics but the inference is towards strong support for Australian heavy vehicle manufacturing.

The LNP can’t expect a high rating on the current supply chain issues, or on steps to protect traditional Australian automotive manufacturing. On the other hand, the current Government has created good programs to address infrastructure problems to allow high productivity vehicles.

Streamline supply chains to avoid local production, delivery and support bottlenecks
LNP 6/10 | ALP 8/10

Don’t allow cheap overseas imports – not suitable for our unique transport challenges – to displace Australia’s innovative heavy trailer designers and builders
LNP 4/10 | ALP 6/10

Allow high productivity vehicles to take the burden off Australia’s growing freight task
LNP 9/10 | ALP 7/10

Skills and Jobs

HVIA has proposed strategies to create a pipeline of skilled workers for both the short and long term.

Streamline processes for bringing in skilled migrants to address critical skill shortages in the heavy vehicle industry
Recognise heavy vehicle trade priorities in the new Apprenticeship Incentive System
Facilitate skills development to support all aspects of battery and fuel cell electric heavy vehicle deployments, maintenance and repair
The Coalition says it has has taken a number of steps to streamline bringing skilled migrants into Australia. This includes on boarding hundreds of employers into the “Accredited Sponsor” scheme, which provides decisions within 7 days.

Looking forward, a re-elected Coalition Government will undertake a review of the skilled visa occupation lists in mid-2022, with a particular focus on critical skills based on advice from the National Skills Commission.

In addition, an independent review of the Skilling Australians Fund levy will be completed in 2022.

A re-elected Coalition Government will consider heavy vehicle manufacturing trades and heavy vehicle service and repair trades as part of the next update to the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List.

A re-elected Coalition Government will invest a further $2.4 billion from 1 July 2022 to upskill apprentices in a streamlined Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System.

The Coalition says it will will establish a new Electric Vehicle and Energy Training Centre in Mackay to train and reskill the workforce in the clean energy jobs of the future required by the mining, transport, construction and manufacturing industries.

The ALP have not responded on this issue except in the context of the previous item and their quest to “create secure well-paid jobs for Australians.”

Labor’s policy plan also includes fee free TAFE will target the skills gap in critical workforces. There will be 465,000 fee-free TAFE places for Australian students studying in industries with a skills shortage, including 45,000 new places.

Labor says it will train thousands of workers by ensuring one in ten workers on major government projects is an apprentice, trainee or cadet. They will “establish Jobs and Skills Australia as a national partnership to drive VET education and strengthen workforce planning by working together with employers, unions and the training and education sector.”

HVIA response

The ALP’s response is aimed on the medium to long term. It does not address the skills crises that industry is facing right now.

In the case of both the ALP and LNP we have some work to do to progress the importance of this issue as a productivity improvement, when the economy is at Full Employment.

Streamline processes for bringing in skilled migrants to address critical skill shortages in the heavy vehicle industry
LNP 7/10 | ALP 2/10

Recognise heavy vehicle trade priorities in the new Apprenticeship Incentive System
LNP 7/10 | ALP 7/10

Facilitate skills development to support all aspects of battery and fuel cell electric heavy vehicle deployments, maintenance and repair
LNP 6/10 | ALP 5/10

Closing comments

From the ALP: “Thank you for writing to Labor and we look forward to working with the heavy vehicle sector, should Labor be successful at the election.”

Whichever party forms government after the election, HVIA said it will work closely with ministers across a range of portfolios, their staff and their respective departments.

“We have a big agenda that is vital to the heavy vehicle industry’s prosperity, and in turn, to a resilient Australia.”

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