THE GRAINS industry continues to closely monitor the Federal Opposition’s policy on road freight.
Peter Wilson, chief executive of AGT Foods, said the Labor Party’s previous policy for road freight, administered under heavy vehicle road safety commission during its last time in power, had been a potential disaster for the grains industry.
“It was a ticking time bomb, it would have made the task of moving agricultural produce very difficult and very expensive,” he said.
Speaking at last week’s Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) shadow minister for agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon acknowledged the commission’s policies, which included a steep hike in costs for owner-operator truck drivers, had not been administered well.
“It was a classic case of a good policy principal gone bad, safety is a critical issue but I can rule out the politicization of the issue like that which occurred last time.”
The controversial policy surrounding heavy vehicle regulation, with onerous restrictions on operation, was dumped when the Coalition won government in 2013.
Mr Wilson said it was concerning the ALP did not rule out tinkering with heavy vehicle laws once again.
“We could potentially see a similar situation again, there’s a strong push from both the union movement and the major freight businesses for a similar system to that recommended last time to be brought in.
“It would make it difficult for owner-operator truck drivers, while tightening the grip the major businesses, which have a largely unionized workforce, have on road freight, hence the support from those quarters.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said the scheme had been badly implemented last time, but said stopping fatalities involving trucks had to be a priority.