Old and new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has unveiled his new Cabinet, re-appointing Darren Chester and Paul Fletcher to the Government’s key infrastructure posts and introducing Michael McCormack as Minister for Small Business.
After one of the longest election campaigns in Australian history, it took the Coalition more than a week to form a narrow majority government after securing the minimum amount of seats needed to avoid relying on support from independents and small parties.
Now backed by a 76-seat majority, Turnbull has re-appointed Darren Chester as Minster of Infastructure and Transport, while Paul Fletcher retains the position of Minister for Urban Infrastructure. In Michael McCormack, Australia will get its ninth Small Business Minister in just under nine years.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), Australian Trucking Association (ATA), the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) are among those who have shared their support of the Ministers.
ATA CEO, Christopher Melham, for example, said that re-appointed Chester has a strong personal commitment to road safety. “Following discussions with the industry, the Coalition committed to spend an extra $4 million a year on truck safety measures, with the money coming from the abolition of the RSRT,” Melham said.
“The ATA is looking forward to continuing our work with Minister Chester to put these safety measures in place. In particular, we will continue discussions with Minister Chester about our proposal that the NHVR should be charged with co-ordinating an information campaign for car drivers about how to share the road safely with trucks. The campaign should run nationally, including in WA and the NT".
NHVR Chair, Bruce Baird, added that Chester has been a strong advocate for the heavy vehicle industry and the on-going reforms being undertaken by the NHVR.
"I look forward to continuing to work with Mr Chester on road safety initiatives and policies that build a stronger heavy vehicle industry," Baird said.
"As the Member for Gippsland since 2008 and born and bred in regional Australia, he knows the importance of a safe and efficient freight industry and giving regional economies the best chance for growth.
"In the past five months since he has taken on the transport portfolio, Mr Chester has been an active and vocal supporter of the Regulator, announcing Australia's first gazette notice for Performance-Based Standards truck and dog combinations, advocating for stronger safety measures and consulting widely with trucking operators and the industry.
"On behalf of the NHVR Board, our Chief Executive and NHVR staff, I congratulate Mr Chester on his re-appointment and confirm our commitment to working with him to reduce red tape for the heavy vehicle industry, deliver consistency across borders and boost road safety for all road users."
ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff, and VTA CEO, Peter Anderson, also included Fletcher in celebratory remarks: “ALC congratulates Ministers Chester and Fletcher and we look forward to working with them to support policies that will improve the efficiency and safety of our national supply chains,” Kilgariff commented.
“Both Ministers are experienced in the portfolio and understand the economic and social benefits of moving freight around Australia more efficiently and safely."
Anderson added, “The VTA looks forward to working closely with Ministers Chester and Fletcher to help them plan for the transport infrastructure needs of Victorian transport operators, particularly our priority road project, the North-East Link."
ATA's Melham also welcomed the appontment of Michael McCormack as Minister for Small Business, stating that the trucking industry consists almost entirely of small businesses. As Australia’s first Small Business Minister who is a member of the Nationals, McCormack replaces Kelly O’Dwyer, who held the position for just over 10 months.
“Michael McCormack understands regional small businesses, and the ATA will be seeking an early meeting with him to discuss our proposal for a mandatory code under the Competition and Consumer Act to cover payment terms for small trucking businesses," said Melham.
Kundabung’s railway station closed in 1974 and the local general store and service station has been bypassed. Yet the location, on the Pacific Highway just a few kilometres south of Kempsey, has a crucial advantage – it’s almost midway between Brisbane and Sydney and ideal for the thriving operational base of Hines Refrigerated Transport.