With the region’s most frequent road users gathering this week at the North West NSW Heavy Vehicle Road Safety Forum in Moree, member for Barwon Kevin Humphries has used the opportunity to address a number of key transport concerns.
Mr Humphries was up front about the challenges facing the NSW government, which he said inherited a significant backlog in critical infrastructure since coming into office.
“However we are committed to turning this around, having announced more than $10 billion to build and maintain critical road infrastructure, we can no longer afford to neglect the freight and logistics industry,” Mr Humphries said.
“In NSW alone it is worth around $50 billion each year.”
He expressed disappointment that this sentiment was not shared by the federal Labor government, with funding reduced for major roads in NSW by 58 per cent by the Gillard government.
“In 2010/11 Canberra collected more than $13.2 billion in fuel excise tax, yet allocated a mere $1.5 billion to fund NSW roads, very frustrating when we seem to be fighting an uphill battle,” he said.
In more positive news, he said the creation within Transport NSW of a new agency dedicated to freight task, ‘Freight and Regional Development’ would help
co-ordinate freight from paddock to port and from ship to shop.
The NSW government has also slashed red tape, including abolishing the requirement for operators to carry a number of notices.
“We also extended grain auger permits from one to 12 months for machinery operating on western region roads,” Mr Humphries said.
“Under the NSW Roads minister Duncan Gay, this government is committed to listening to farmers and contractors and arrive at commonsense solutions to transport issues.”
Exemptions to allow new John Deere 7760 round bale cotton pickers to be ‘walked’ for up to 80 kilometres between farms and abolishing requirements on road train operators to carry a number of paper permits in their trucks has also eased operator pressures.
Mr Humphries also talked of opening up more of the state road network for Semi-trailers and B-doubles, particularly east of the Newell Highway.
“If the road is safe, strong and straight enough then the minister is prepared to consider the deployment of modernised road trains east of the Newell,” he said.
“Additionally, ‘Bridges for the Bush’ is being developed to upgrade key bridges to remove frustrating load restrictions and higher mass limit ‘missing links’ are being identified to extend the road freight network.”
He believes ‘modernised’ road trains, meaning B and AB Triples and road trains fitted with certified road friendly suspended tri-axle dollies, would also increase freight efficiency.
The government was also currently seeking to abolish the requirement for NSW based transport operators to pay stamp duty on the purchase of new truck trailers.
“Trailers on NSW roads overwhelmingly display Queensland or Victorian number plates and unlike the
previous Labor government we’re not prepared to stand idly by while freight businesses, jobs and associated registration revenue migrate to other States,” Mr Humphries said.
“We are determined to reduce the cost of running freight businesses in NSW.”
The proposed stamp duty reform is part of a broader suite of government measures to help ease financial pressure on road freight operators in NSW brought about by increases in national registration charges.