We'll pursue better deal for trucking: Coalition

Coalition says it will pursue greater investment in rural infrastructure and rest areas to increase trucking industry’s safety and productivity

By Brad Gardnert | October 15, 2010

Despite falling short of government, the Coalition has vowed to maintain the fight to improve rest areas and bridge infrastructure for the trucking industry.

The office of opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss says the Coalition will pursue its transport policies it took to the federal election this year.

Truss promised a $300 million investment to build 500 rest areas over 10 years and a $600 million program over four years to upgrade decaying bridges across the country. Under the bridges scheme, state and local governments would contribute half the funding.

"We’ll keep arguing the case for it. It will be every time we talk about heavy vehicle transport," a spokesman for Truss says of the policies.

"We will pursue them, but in the end they involve money."

The spokesman is confident the Greens and Independents will support the proposals, which have been welcomed by the trucking industry.

"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 said earlier this year.

St Clair says the industry has been denied access to bridges because councils do not have the funds to carry out upgrades or repairs.

"To protect their assets many councils have been forced to close the bridges, apply load limits or restrict the movement of trucks on the routes where small bridges are located," he says.

Funding for Truss’ proposals would come from the Nation Building Program, which was formerly known as AusLink.

However, all the money under the program has been allocated up to the 2013-2014 financial year, meaning funds will need to be diverted from existing projects to pay for the proposals.

The Government implemented a $70 million program in 2008 to fund rest areas and road upgrades. All the money has been allocated and there is no word on whether the program will be extended.

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