Jun 14, 2010

This man wants to be Deputy Prime Minister!

This man wants to be Deputy Prime Minister!

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

June 14 2010

Not a week goes by without the Leader of National Party Warren Truss saying something embarrassing about the National Party’s performance on transport issues in both government and opposition.

During an appearance of regional television, Mr Truss had the audacity to bemoan the costly and confusing array of regulations truck drivers have to comply with as well as the lack of rest stops along the nation’s highway – stating they have been a problem for over a decade.

This is a truly extraordinary comment from the leader of a Party which had 12 years to do something about both issues but chose instead to ignore the industry’s repeated pleas and do nothing. After all, for the entire period of the Howard Government the Nationals, including Mr Truss himself, held the transport portfolio.

Here’s another uncomfortable historical fact for the Nationals: the fatigue laws which they consistently rail against and Mr Truss claims is forcing truck drivers to act illegally, were put in place when their former leader Mark Vaile was the Federal Transport Minister.

All this leaves me wondering whether Mr Truss deliberately sets out to mislead or has simply become delusional, convinced the world only started the day Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister. Either way, he’s not fit to be the leader of a major political party, let alone Australia’s next deputy prime minister.

I’ve attached the full transcript of Mr Truss’s recent comments so others can read the unintended self criticism.

For the record: the progress of heavy vehicle reform in the first two and a half years of the Rudd Labor Government has already surpassed that achieved during the previous decade.

Determined to end the existing variations between state and territory regulations, particularly around enforcement standards, driving hours and mass limits, we’ve secured an agreement to have one set of nationwide laws administered by a single national regulator.

To be in place by 2013, these historic reforms will simplify an operator’s compliance task and reduce the documentation their interstate drivers will need to carry with them at all times.

In addition, we’ve more than doubled the roads budget and funded the single biggest investment in the roadside facilities used by long distance truck drivers, including new and refurbished rest stops, parking bays and decoupling areas.

The trucking industry is a cornerstone of the Australian economy. That’s why we’ve been working to put in place regulations that support rather than frustrate the efforts of truck drivers to make a decent living.

TRANSCRIPT

PRIME NEWS (WAGGA WAGGA)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Subject: Heavy vehicle safety and reform

NEWSREADER: National’s Leader Warren Truss says something needs to be done about the safety of our truck drivers. In February this year the Federal Government appointed a national truck regulator to impose one set of rules on all states and territories.

The uniform rules won’t be imposed until 2013. My Truss says on a visit to Wagga, it’s a start but it’s vital something’s done sooner rather than later.

REPORTER: It’s been a big issue for truck drivers for a long time, the inconsistent rules for big rigs across states and territories.

GEOFF CROUCH: They were not going from state to state across various borders in our day to day business and having to deal with different legislation and different rules and different regulations and different interpretations every time we do.

REPORTER: Rest stops are another big problem, there’s simply not enough of them. National Party Leader Warren Truss says truck drivers are breaking the rules but it’s because they have no choice.

WARREN TRUSS: The new fatigue management laws require truck drivers to stop at regular intervals but there are no places particularly in New South Wales often for them to be able to stop and yet that’s not a defence, they’re required to stop even if there’s no place for them to stop.

REPORTER: Mr Truss says the inconsistent laws have been a problem for more than a decade. Reforms to the laws should be implemented by 2013 but is that soon enough?

GEOFF CROUCH: Look, it’s probably little bit long off but by the same token if it’s done properly and if we have the necessary enforcement powers to ensure the states do fall in line with the national regulator, if it’s – if they need that much time to do it properly, so be it.