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Prime Mover Magazine


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Peter Anderson

April Fools’ Day truck bans and toll hikes no joke

May 2017

While these announcements coincided with April Fools’ Day, their impact on an industry already under financial attack from growing roads and ports user charges, and shrinking margins, is far from a laughing matter.

Most regrettable about these announcements – aside from the financial and productivity losses they will inevitably create – is that they fly in the face of the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) recent calls for better balance between community amenity and economic productivity.

As I recently put to an infrastructure conference in Melbourne, the freight industry makes a massive contribution to the economy, and our economic prosperity will decline if vocal groups are supported in their quest to eliminate heavy vehicles from certain roads.

Trucks are vital to the economic lifeblood of communities, bringing trade to markets, goods to shops and enhancing the standard of living we all enjoy, and they are essential for jobs, connection and growth.

Regrettably, bans and curfews are becoming the common catchcry for community groups that do not understand the importance to our standard of living in having trucks of all shapes and sizes moving responsibly and safely among us.

The industry recognises the greater physical impact we have on roads and amenity, which is why we pay a higher share of repair and maintenance costs via steeper registration and other charges.

There needs to be recognition that ban and curfew exemptions for modern vehicles, enforcement solutions through technology, local road construction improvements and toll reductions and multi-user discounts to encourage heavy vehicle usage are far better solutions than simplistic bans and curfews.

Banning trucks is the lazy way politicians of all stripes have dealt with groups who don’t like trucks because of their size, shape, noise or smell. What these groups don’t appreciate is that a truck ban is tantamount to an employment ban because you are restricting someone’s ability to do their job.

These issues – and the associated impacts on productivity for operators – will be thoroughly explored at the VTA’s annual State Conference, being held at Mantra Lorne, 4–6 June.

And I am thrilled to confirm that Federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester will open the Conference and deliver the keynote address during the opening session.

Under the theme ‘Making your business more productive – learn from the experts’, the three-day event is an opportunity to learn first-hand tactics and strategies for improving business productivity in challenging times from transport industry experts.

An interesting and ambitious speaker program is again being assembled by the VTA, featuring senior people from leading operators, suppliers, academia and government.

Delegates will hear from a combination of individual speakers and structured panel discussions on a wide range of industry issues including safety, technology, human resources, equipment and customers, with productivity improvement a central and common theme throughout the program.

More than 30 speakers from a cross-section of the industry are expected to address the Conference, making for an action-packed and content-rich presentation. The VTA will publish the full Conference program a few weeks prior to commencement, with periodic updates provided to members leading up to this important annual event.

As with previous State Conferences, social networking will form an important part of the event. The Conference will kick off with a welcome barbeque dinner at the Lorne Hotel on Sunday, 6 June, with the official Conference Dinner the following evening. There will be plenty of breakfast and lunch networking opportunities for delegates to confer with each other.

Pricing for the Conference has remained unchanged for 2017. Early-bird pricing, including accommodation at the Mantra Lorne, all meals and plenary sessions is $1,150 for those who register by Friday, 12 May. The two-day Conference-only price (excluding accommodation) is $950, with day-only pricing for either the Monday or Tuesday at $350.

To register visit www.vta.com.au or call 03 9646 8590.

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