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A clarion call on industry deregulation, safety

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15 June 2020

The Government’s commitment to slashing red tape and improving road safety will boost the economy, create jobs and save lives, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chair David Smith said today. 

Mr Smith was responding to the Prime Minister’s address to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, where he pointed out that: “Trucks were allowed to resupply along roads and during hours where they were previously banned. And the sun came up the next day.” 

Mr Smith said that governments should not reintroduce the bans. 

“The Queensland government has extended the curfew free period. It should become permanent; we urge other states and territories to follow suit,” Mr Smith said. 

In support of the Prime Minister’s calls for truck deregulation, the ATA highlighted the need for further action on road access for High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs): longer truck combinations like A doubles and B-triples that can carry more freight. 

“Infrastructure Australia has reported that HPFVs reduce total vehicle movements, reduce congestion growth, lower costs of freight, enable faster delivery times and are more likely to be safer, quieter and be less emissions intensive,” Mr Smith said. 

“Despite these benefits, the use of HPFVs on our roads has been limited. 

“We’re calling on the government to deliver long term productivity benefits by prioritising infrastructure investment to fix gaps in the road network for HPFV access,” he said. 

Additionally, ATA has called on the government to streamline fatigue and remove the impractical requirements in driver work diaries. 

“The current system does not work. It is complex, confusing and inflexible,” Mr Smith said. 

“Trucking operators need more flexible fatigue management, simplified rules and record-keeping, and a reduction in the penalties for work and rest hour record-keeping offences,” he said. 

The ATA has also urged government to overhaul heavy vehicle accreditation, as trucking businesses are overwhelmed with multiple compliance and customer audits, which are costly and time consuming. 

“The ATA’s plan for the future national truck laws includes a new voluntary accreditation system that would enable operators to demonstrate their safety and access alternative compliance arrangements, including on fatigue management,” Mr Smith said. 

“Under our approach, businesses certified under the ATA’s TruckSafe accreditation scheme or another accreditation scheme approved by the NHVR would be deemed to comply with their safety duties,” he said. 

“The customer would be able to focus on meeting its own obligations rather than demanding yet another unnecessary audit. 

“The emphasis has to be on more operators becoming accredited, not on how many audits they have to complete,” he said. 

In today’s address, Mr Morrison also announced that $500 million from the new $1.5 billion funding for small scale infrastructure priority projects will be targeted on road safety works. 

“The ATA welcomes this funding. These works to be funded under the program should include building better and more frequent heavy vehicle rest areas,” Mr Smith said. 

“Research show that fatigue crashes are almost seven times more likely on roads where truck stops are more than 64 km apart compared to roads where truck stops are less than 32 km apart,” he said. 

The ATA and its member associations collectively represent the 50,000 businesses and 200,000 people in the Australian trucking industry. Together, the ATA and its members are committed to safety, professionalism and viability.