Road freight is an enabler of opportunity, allowing business to reach domestic and international markets, consumers to purchase goods, farms to sell their produce, and construction materials to enable new developments.
Improving road freight productivity enables increased economic output for a range of industries, and improves safety, congestion and environmental outcomes. However governments have failed to deliver the policy framework to improve trucking industry productivity over the last decade.
In enabling opportunity, it is vital that road transportation is also safe. There has been significant progress on making our roads safer, but the cost of road trauma remains high.The 2018-19 Budget should launch a new national agenda on land transport safety and productivity. Immediate steps should be taken to improve road transport safety, including:
- Funding the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to establish a national database of coronial recommendations about road safety and a national database of serious heavy vehicle accidents.
- Enhancing the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiatives program with improvements to funding, project assessment, and administration.
- Continued delivery of the national agenda for mental health reform, suicide prevention and improved frontline services.
- Establishing an independent, statutory National Road Safety Commission to provide independent advice, policy reviews, and funding of non-infrastructure projects for improving road safety.
Likewise, immediate steps should be taken to improve productivity and enable economic opportunities across the Australian economy, including:
- Revenue from heavy vehicle charges, including the increased overcharging in 2018-19, should be returned to road transport with increased road safety and better roads funding.
- Toll road and landside port charges for heavy vehicles should be subject to an independent regulator, such as the ACCC.
- Continued focus on lowering business and company taxes.
- Continued funding of existing road safety infrastructure investment programs.
- Delivering a targeted, additional, funding program for opening up new routes for gazetted heavy vehicle access.
- Delivering a High Productivity Vehicle network program.
- Addressing road infrastructure gaps in rural, regional and remote regions.
- Fixing mobile phone black spots on transport routes.
- Investing in purpose-built livestock effluent disposal facilities on the Australian road network.
- Require new toll road investments to prioritise urban freight efficiency and connectivity, and prevent the setting of heavy vehicle toll charges that seek to maximise revenue and distort the efficiency of the transport network.
- Establish an independent National Road Investment Fund, to be managed by an independent National Road Investment Corporation, to improve the long term efficiency and effectiveness of road investment.