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Prime Mover Magazine

Natroad urges the advancement of the road transport industry in pre-Budget submission

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) recently lodged a pre-Budget submission with Treasury outlining measures which focus on promoting small business and reducing road freight inefficiencies.

NatRoad CEO, Warren Clark, explained that the Government must give priority to small business, particularly transport operators, as they are the ‘engine room’ of the Australian economy. The Budget is due to be handed down on 2 April 2019.

“The Government announcement that the threshold for the small business instant asset write-off has been increased to $25,000 is a very good start to assisting our sector,” said Clark.

He added that the NatRoad submissions sets out eight policy priorities that should underpin the advancement of the road transport industry. One critical element that should be given immediate attention, according Clark, is the conversation regarding moving the heavy vehicle industry to a user pays model.

“The ultimate aim of heavy vehicle road reform is to change the provision of heavy vehicle road infrastructure into an economic service,” he said.

“This would see a market established that links heavy vehicle user needs with the level of service they receive, the charges they pay and the investment of those charges back into heavy vehicle road services. But this cannot occur without an appropriate agency guiding the process.”

NatRoad wants Treasury to make cost estimates and appropriate modelling for the establishment of an independent price regulator for the heavy vehicle industry. 

“Alternatively, additional funding should be allocated to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to undertake the role of the independent price regulator for Heavy Vehicle Road Reform,” said Clark.

“We make the point that an independent pricing regulator should possess a broad regulatory role including regulating and monitoring toll fees and landside port charges, given the current lack of transparency and fairness in setting tolls and landside port charges for heavy vehicles. There are many elements of the system that need scrutiny by an independent regulator.

“An emphasis on the industry’s human resource’s needs is also a vital component of industry reform and improvement.  NatRoad has commenced a project designed to address current and future driver shortages. The strategy includes promoting heavy vehicle operation as a viable career choice and assisting businesses to engage and retain staff.  By developing a recognised industry trade, it is intended to create a clearer career path for drivers, attract school leavers to the road transport industry and improve the image of truck driving in the community.

“NatRoad wants Government to acknowledge the heavy vehicle driver shortage and provide financial incentives for young people to become skilled heavy vehicle drivers.

“2019 is proving to be a watershed year for the industry with political and economic forces likely to bring about deep-seated change. Where possible Government needs to act so that the transport industry, as a pivotal economic driver, can generate positive multiplier effects such as better accessibility to markets and additional investment. Adopting NatRoad’s suggestions will assist this aim.”

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