Prioritise safety and our roads
THE Australian Government should prioritise safety and road access as it rolls out the $24.5 billion in new infrastructure spending, Australian Trucking Association chair Geoff Crouch believes.
He said the government did not go far enough when it announced businesses that tendered for Commonwealth contracts of more than $4 million would be required to show they had a satisfactory tax record.
“They should be required to have good safety records and systems as well,” Mr Crouch said.
“Through our TruckSafe program, the ATA is working with the National Road Safety Partnership Program, the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority and others to develop accreditation standards for construction truck operators.
“These include side under-run protection, alert systems and mirrors to cover the front, rear and side blind spots of trucks and better driver training.
“The Australian Government should mandate these standards for any major infrastructure project that it helps fund.”
Mr Crouch said the government should make access for high productivity and oversize/over-mass vehicles a key condition of its funding to the states and local government, including under its new Roads of Strategic Importance initiative.
“Trucking operators that move oversize/over-mass freight are in crisis because of the long delays involved in getting permits,” he said.
“It can take more than 80 days to get a permit to transport OSOM steel products on the Transurban toll ways in Melbourne.
“A company seeking to move OSOM mining equipment from the Pilbara to Weipa waited more than 100 days for a permit to move the equipment by road through Queensland. In the end, the company transported the equipment by road to Darwin and put it on a barge.
“In total, trucking operators spend 4.5 million days per year waiting for approvals to move freight.
“The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is responsible for issuing these permits in the eastern states and South Australia but it faces the same problem as our members.
“It has to wait endlessly for local authorities and other road managers to sign off on the permits.
“They can take as long as they want and there are no external appeals against their decisions.
“The Australian Government needs to attach conditions on its infrastructure funding to require local councils and the states to get their act together and issue permits in a timely way.”
NatRoad chief executive Warren Clark echoed those statements in a post-budget media release.
“Our members have horror stories, such as being able to get a permit for both ends of a road but not the middle,” Mr Clark said.
“The current system is broken and we want to see it fixed.”
PERMIT DELAYS: Industry heads are reiterating the call for faster permits for heavy loads in the wake of the new budget.