Victorian Government backs heavy vehicle driver training
The issue of heavy vehicle driver shortages is one that industry associations, transport operators and construction firms behind the biggest infrastructure projects in the country have been openly concerned about for some time. The reason for this is simple.
When we run out of qualified and trained heavy vehicle drivers, projects will grind to a halt, roads and tunnels will cease from being built and excavated, and construction timelines on new buildings and infrastructure will start to blow out. The effects of such inactivity will flow right throughout the whole economy, impacting jobs and growth in all the major industry sectors.
This is one of the reasons the Victorian Transport Association has played a leading role in advocating for support from all levels of government for measures to attract new drivers to our industry. Our two-pronged approach has been to advocate for changes to licensing regimes to streamline the process for people who want to work in transport to get a heavy vehicle licence, without compromising training and skills, and to agitate for government support for training new drivers. On the licensing front the VTA, at the request of the Victorian Government, is leading a Committee that has been established to review the state’s heavy vehicle licensing regime, which has a strong focus on the road freight component of driver licensing standards.
The Committee includes stakeholders from Australian Industry Standards, National Transport Insurance, Transport Workers Union, VicRoads/Freight Victoria, and Transport for Victoria, and is a unique opportunity to improve standards and attract young people to our profession, through sensible reform.
On the training front we are continuing to introduce new drivers to the industry through our Driver Delivery program, which provides intensive and hands-on practical instruction and, most importantly, a job in transport on completion of the program.
The Victorian Government has recognised the success of the program in its recent state budget by allocating $4 million over four years to the industry to train 800 new heavy vehicle drivers.
This welcome announcement fulfils a commitment Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made prior to last November’s state election, and we congratulate the Victorian Government for recognising the value of the heavy vehicle industry through this funding and other budget commitments.
The funding will ensure the Association can continue to provide highly-trained, competent and skilled heavy vehicle drivers and, over time, help alleviate pressures being felt by current driver shortages.
The driver training funding commitment was just one of many measures contained in the 2019-2020 Victorian Budget delivered by Treasurer Tim Pallas that will benefit freight and logistics operators. Other measures include further investments in road and rail infrastructure across the state, reduced payroll tax for business and land transfer duties for regional commercial and industrial properties, and other initiatives that will help to attract strategic investment in Victoria to create jobs and growth across the Victorian economy.
New infrastructure, and maintaining and upgrading roads, railways and bridges, continues to be a priority, with a Suburban Transport Blitz unveiled in the Budget providing record road and rail funding that will help to ease congestion.
The $27.4 billion program includes $15.8 billion to fully fund and build the VTA-backed North East Link, $6.6 billion to remove 25 additional level crossings, $3.4 billion on upgrades to key Metro Rail lines, $608 million for upgrades and improvements to local roads, $300 million towards planning for the future Suburban Rail Loop, and $100 million towards the Western Rail Plan and separation of regional and metro rail services.
Regional roads will also benefit with $425 million earmarked for repairs and upgrades.
Away from infrastructure, the Government for the fourth consecutive year has promised payroll tax cuts for regional businesses that will keep it the lowest in the nation and make regional Victoria even more attractive for doing business. A 50 per cent discount on land transfer duty on commercial and industrial properties in regional Victoria will be welcomed by operators planning to acquire or sell property.
Through this Budget the Government has delivered on its promises and the VTA looks forward to helping deliver the projects we need to keep Victoria the most attractive place in Australia to live and do business in.