Industry takes bushfire impact concerns to McCormack

Finance, infrastructure and climate change must be addressed, ATA says

Industry takes bushfire impact concerns to McCormack
Image courtesy Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz


Steps are being taken by government to hear industry concerns on the ongoing impact of bushfires, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) reports.

A teleconference involving federal transport minister Michael McCormack was held with the ATA, members and other representatives from the trucking and rail industries yesterday to discuss response and recovery efforts. 

ATA chair Geoff Crouch says the ATA General Council will meet next Monday to develop a proposed assistance package for affected trucking businesses and employees, before a follow-up teleconference to provide a full outline of industry’s position and recommendations. 

"The bushfire crisis has had devastating impacts on communities across the country, seeing the loss of lives, homes and businesses," Crouch says.

"It has also heavily impacted trucking businesses who have had to endure safety hazards, road closures and lengthy delays in getting much needed supplies to communities in need. 

"In the longer term, the government must ensure infrastructure and bridges are rebuilt in accordance with bushfire resilient standards.

"The government must also take dramatically stronger action to address climate change.

"I commend deputy prime minister McCormack for his initiative in engaging with industry at this critical time," Crouch says, noting McCormack thanked trucking businesses for the support they are providing the community.

Crouch will sit in on a prime ministerial roundtable on the crisis on Friday, while ATA CEO Ben Maguire will participate in a roundtable on Thursday with federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie.

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Commenting on the consultation, South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) CEO Steve Shearer reinforces the significant effect of trucking in SA and WA, particularly for those whose fleets were stuck out on the Eyre Highway for up to more than 10 days.

"We noted that this has effectively destroyed their cashflow and their limited profit for the year and that the government need to discuss with us ways to assist those businesses; noting also that some leeway in payment of BAS needs to be considered because of the huge drop in cashflow.

"We will ensure that other impacts of the bushfire emergency on trucking, especially over here in SA and WA are fully understood and considered . . . including planning and implementation of better infrastructure, especially the need for a genuine and serious ramping up of the provision of rest areas and capacity.

He notes the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is being briefed on how operators can be assisted from an administrative point.

"We know that the desperate push to catch up with the freight backlog will mean that there will be equipment necessarily dragooned into action that is not currently within an accredited operator’s NHVAS Vehicle Register and, as far as we are concerned, that should be accommodated by allowing say a 30-day window for getting such equipment onto the system.

"In times of national and economic crisis, some pragmatic leeway is needed. This is a time for safe action, not anal auditing and enforcement.

"We are very happy to see the pragmatic and reasonable co-operative approach being that is being adopted by the NHVR to help us cope with this emergency."

Shearer also stresses that, despite some industry rumours, the NHVR is not conducting a compliance blitz at this time.

In a related tweet, federal freight transport minister Scott Buchholz says:


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