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Trucking industry express positive response over infrastructure boost in 2021-22 Federal Budget

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The trucking industry has expressed strong advocacy over announcements on infrastructure boost from the federal government’s 2021-22 spending budget.

Pre-Budget support included $2 billion for the Great Western Highway upgrade across the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, $500 million for the Princes Highway corridor and key upgrades in Sydney.

More than $2 billion was also announced for a new intermodal freight terminal in Victoria and $380 million to upgrade roads in Pakenham.

While the Australian Trucking Association welcomed the federal government’s budget support, ATA CEO Andrew McKellar noted that “rest areas must not be an afterthought.”

“The ATA welcomes the Government’s additional spending on roads across Australia,” McKellar said.

“The spending delivers on collaborative advocacy by our members, such as the Queensland Trucking Association’s campaign for an inland freight route from Mungindi on the NSW border to Charters Towers,” he said.

He continued that the extra road spending should prioritise safety. In particular, McKellar said that the Government should expand the approach that has been taken on the Bruce Highway and require the new projects to include truck rest areas as part of their initial design, instead of looking to build them later at much greater expense.

“Truck drivers need rest areas so they can take the breaks they need to drive safely and meet their compliance obligations. But there just aren’t enough rest areas on the road system,” he explained.

“Pleasingly, some states and territories are beginning to do better on planning for rest areas, with new projects and strategies released or under development in Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales following the strong work of ATA member associations,” he revealed.

The Queensland Trucking Association was arguably the most ecstatic about the news, particularly regarding the $400 million budget to activate an Inland Freight Route in Queensland.

The Inland Freight Route, depicted as a safe alternative to the Bruce Highway, will also unlock access for high productivity combinations, build regional capacity and more efficiently connect the major freight routes leading to lower production costs.

“This investment will deliver a long-term program of priority works between Mungindi on the NSW border and Charters Towers, which will connect vital goods with markets and support more than 600 jobs,” said Transport Minister Michael McCormack.

“The Australian Government has committed $400 million to this $500 million project with construction expected to commence in early 2023,” he said.

Expressing the industry’s body’s support in the investment, QTA Chief Executive Gary Mahon said the announcement gives them confidence that their voice is being heard and that their advocacy efforts are ensuring that road freight is recognised as a significant contributor to the economy.

“The road freight industry is vital for the operation and survival of the vast geographical footprint of communities and business across the nation,” Mahon said.

“The reliance on the road freight industry has never been more profound due to the extensive and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 economic crisis with disrupted global supply chains, simmering trade tensions and weaker demand,” he emphasized.

An additional $400 million was also included for the Bruce Highway.

In South Australia, $2.6 billion will go to Adelaide’s North-South Corridor, $161.6 million to the Truro Bypass and $148 million for the Augusta Highway

In Western Australia, $200 million will be spent on Great Eastern Highway upgrades and $160 million to improve the WA agricultural supply chain, while in Tasmania, $80 million has been allocated to Bass Highway safety and freight efficiency upgrades. Upgrades of $109.9 million will go to Midland Highway.

The Government has allocated $150 million for national network highway upgrades in the Northern Territory. In the ACT, $26.5 million will go to duplicate William Hovell Drive.

Source: ATA, QTA

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