AusLink Bill passes, no guarantee of rest area funding

By: Graham Gardiner

The Federal Government has managed to pass a bill in the Senate allowing it to fund rest areas, but there

The Federal Government has managed to pass a bill in the Senate allowing it to fund rest areas, but there is no guarantee of an immediate investment.

The Senate yesterday agreed to support the AusLink (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill which alters the definition of road to include rest areas and weigh stations so they are included in AusLink funding to the states.

However, the funds to build rest areas as well as tachograph trials have been locked away because of the Government’s inability to push through greater registration and road user charges for the trucking industry.

The Government has refused to spent its $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity package unless the Senate passes the Interstate Road Transport Charge Amendment Bill and Road Charges Legislation Repeal and Amendment Bill.

The Coalition previously used its numbers in the Senate to vote down the bills earlier this year. Albanese re-introduced them into the Federal Parliament this week.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says it is vital both bills are passed so the Government can devote resources to increasing heavy vehicle road safety.

"Last year in Australia, there were over 200 road deaths involving heavy vehicles, with speed and fatigue significant contributing factors," he says.

The AusLink (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill also extends the Roads to Recovery program for another five years with a boost in funding from $300 to $350 million a year.

"This means that over next five we will provide $1.75 billion directly to local councils and shires to help them fix local transport problems," Albanese says.

He says councils and shires will now have the resources to maintain and improve local roads under the program.

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