Truss commits to rest areas but quiet on road funding

Coalition commits to 500 rest areas, but industry will need to wait to find out more about its transport plans

Truss commits to rest areas but quiet on road funding
Truss commits to rest areas but quiet on road funding
By Brad Gardner | August 5, 2010

The Coalition has committed to investment in rest areas, but the trucking industry will need to wait to find out more about its plans for transport.

Nationals leader and opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss yesterday reiterated the Coalition’s pledge to spend $300 million building 500 rest areas over 10 years if elected on August 21.

In his speech to the National Press Club, Truss also repeated the Coalition’s promise to spend $300 million over four years upgrading bridges. Another $300 million will come from state and local governments.

"The Coalition has been announcing components of our transport and infrastructure programs over recent months and there is more to come in the second half of the campaign," Truss says.

Truss' rest areas announcement has been welcomed by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

"There just aren’t enough rest areas on the roads for our drivers to stop and take their breaks safely," ATA CEO Stuart St Clair says.

"The ATA has urged all political parties to continue funding truck rest areas, and we are very pleased the Coalition has recognised their importance."

During his speech, Truss criticised the Federal Government’s decision to establish Infrastructure Australia.

The body is responsible for guiding investment in nationally important infrastructure projects.

"On transport, we will make the hard decisions about which road and rail projects to fund," Truss says.

"We will not repeat Labor’s approach, which is to use Infrastructure Australia as a huge pit for everyone’s ideas – good and bad - and from which precious little ever seems to emerge."

Money for rest areas will come from the Nation Building Program. All funding under the program has been allocated, and new money will not be available until the next program begins in 2014-2015.

Earlier this year the Coalition said it would "reprioritise" funding from existing projects to meet its commitment of $30 million a year for 10 years on rest areas.

Truss also used the speech to criticise the Federal Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme, which will be delayed until at least 2013.

"From day one, we said this was a bad idea. I for one could never work out how trading pieces of paper in a city office tower would lower the sea levels, or save the polar bears," he says.

Under emissions trading, businesses will be required to buy and trade permits to pollute.

The scheme will apply to the trucking industry. Fuel manufacturers will need to buy permits and pass down the costs in the form of higher fuel prices.

The trucking industry will be given a one-year reprieve, with the Government saying one cent will be cut from the fuel excise for every one cent rise in the price of fuel due to emissions trading.

Related stories:
Truss unveils Coalition bridge renewal program
Coalition promises 500 new rest areas if elected
Coalition to 'reprioritise' road investment for rest areas

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