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Road bottlenecks, red tape and limited access holding back Australia's economy

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13 August 2019

Governments must take action to boost trucking productivity by cutting red tape, improving access and addressing road bottlenecks, Chair of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Geoff Crouch, said today. 

The Australian Trucking Association and its member associations collectively represent the 50,000 business and 200,000 people in the Australian trucking industry. Together, we are committed to safety, professionalism and viability. 

The release of the 2019 Infrastructure Australia Audit has identified increasing challenges for agricultural, regional, urban and non-bulk freight including poor planning and congestion, and poor maintenance and limited capacity in regional areas. 

“Governments have allowed significant challenges to accumulate, which are now holding back our economy,” Mr Crouch said. 

“Australia needs efficient and productive freight and supply chains in order to minimise costs for businesses and consumers, enable economic growth and improve the quality and cost of living for all Australians. 

“The Infrastructure Australia Audit found that supply chain costs account for around 10 per cent of the cost of a final product – a cost which is ultimately borne by consumers,” he said. 

Mr Crouch said the key to unlocking Australia’s freight productivity lies in reforms to truck laws and utilising high productivity freight vehicles. 

“Our current truck laws are an amalgamation of highly prescriptive laws that vary between jurisdictions. It is critical the current review of the national truck laws produces real change. 

“Meanwhile, although high productivity freight vehicles have been proven to lower costs, improve safety and reduce emissions, their uptake has been discouraged by the time consuming and costly access permit decision making process. 

“There is a wealth of untapped productivity potential that will not be realised unless governments consult with industry and take serious action,” he said. 

Mr Crouch said the ATA is calling for reform to improve access decisions under the national truck laws, expand access for more productive vehicles, and reform the structural issues around road funding that are holding back our road infrastructure network. 

“The ATA’s upcoming submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law review on access will provide governments with clear recommendations on the need for a national reform program to deliver a modern, more productive and better-connected road freight network. 

“New investment should be targeted to key freight routes and we need to plan for future freight needs, as recommended by the Expert Panel inquiry into freight and supply chain priorities, which included past ATA chair David Simon. 

“The Infrastructure Audit makes it clear that freight will continue to grow faster than population growth and that we need to change the way we plan, fund and deliver infrastructure. 

“These recommendations are being developed in close consultation with our members, who are contributing their expertise and working together in the best interests in the industry,” he said. 

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