Road fixes urgently needed to stimulate economy

ROAD FIXES NEEDED: Trucking bosses call for the Federal Government to clear the backlog of road maintenance projects. PICTURE: Brad Fleet

A GROUP of concerned road transport industry bodies are calling for fast-acting federal road fix initiatives to prevent a further industry slow-down.

The Federal Government’s proposed economic stimulus package in reponse to the coronavirus outbreak can have immediate positive effects if directed towards road maintenance spending on the national highway network as well as state, territory and local roads, said a joint statement by Western Roads Federation, NT Road Transport Association and NatRoad.

Late last month Infrastructure Australia identified a number of factors that have created a road maintenance backlog across all jurisdictions and released a priority list of projects.

The WRF said a local government road maintenance backlog had reduced road safety and productivity.

“This action is a direct result of reduced road maintenance funding and it sets a dangerous precedent,” said WRF director, Pam Simpson.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said now is the perfect time to act and fix some of our ageing roads.

“Many of our public roads are ageing and decrepit having a direct impact on the efficiency of the transport industry on a daily basis,” he said.

Australia’s publicly owned road network is a strategic asset, vital to our security, lifestyle and livelihoods, said the transport chiefs in the same statement.

“The road transport industry requires efficient and operational freight corridors to enhance the sustainability of the industry. Directing economic stimulus monies to essential road maintenance is a win for all Australians and will effectively achieve the intended trickle down effect to spending in communities.

“The transport and logistics industry employs more than half a million people across its major subsectors and provides delivery of vital goods and services throughout Australia via road transportation and stevedoring operations.

“It is important the Federal Government supports the industry that contributes heavily to the economy.”

WRF CEO Cam Dumesny told Big Rigs there is a reported $750 million backlog of road maintenance in WA alone.

He said it made sense to channel stimulus money into fixing the problems because unlike major roading upgrades, Australia would see a pay-off much faster with increased producivity as a result.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King told Big Rigs that instead of listening to the experts and delivering a strong infrastructure-led stimulus late last year, the Morrison Government cobbled together a series of ad-hoc announcements with most funding not to flow for two or three years.

“Now with the economy in a weaker position, the Morrison Government’s great idea is to write letters to the states begging for help,” she said.

“If the Morrison Government is serious about infrastructure stimulus, maintenance and road safety upgrades would be two sensible activities to focus investment that will be good for jobs, productivity and road users.”

Big Rigs has approached the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development for comment.

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