May 10, 2012

Even more rest stops and better roadside facilities on the way

Tuesday night’s Federal Budget included extra funding to continue the rollout of new, modern rest stops and other roadside facilities for a further seven years until 2019, adding to a range of measures we have already taken to help make the jobs of the nation’s half a million truck drivers a little easier and less stressful.

The extra $140 million for Federal Labor’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program will build even more places along the nation’s highways where truck drivers can pull over to take a break, catch up on sleep and check or re-configure their vehicles.

Fewer fatigued truck drivers behind the wheel, makes our roads safer for everyone.

Established in 2008, the Program is the first of its kind at a Federal level and by the middle of this year will have funded 236 projects, including 95 new and refurbished rest stops as well as 45 new and upgraded parking/decoupling bays.

In addition, money from the Program has also been used to open up more of the nation’s road network through targeted projects such as the strengthening of bridges which can deliver big time and fuel savings, with drivers able to take shorter, more direct routes to their destinations.

The trucking industry is a cornerstone of the Australian economy. Without it our supermarket shelves would quickly empty and much of our exports would remain in the ground, on the farm or at the factory. That’s why we’ve been working closely with the unions, trucking companies and owner drivers to make their industry safer and more productive.

In the years ahead, the industry will also benefit from the following Labor reforms:

  • A doubling of the Federal roads budget;
  • Establishment a national regulator in 2013 and the replacement of the existing array of costly and confusing state-based regulations with nation-wide heavy vehicle laws;
  • The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which has with the powers to set pay and conditions to make sure drivers get a fair go.

But we know there’s more to do. As the Federal Transport Minister I will continue to work with the trucking industry to lessen the regulatory burden on operators, improve safety for drivers and make sure the rewards go to those that play by the rules.