Pages tagged "Transport"

  • Transport funding cuts in Lalor

    In the election campaign I told the people in the electorate of Lalor that I would come to Canberra to represent them—that I would come to Canberra to fight for them. And that is what I will do tonight. Tonight I speak about an issue in my electorate that is progressively worsening. It is traffic congestion, road safety and the cost of travel.

    Now, I could talk for days about the endless number of measures in the Abbott government's budget that scream bad news for Lalor families. But today I would like to focus on three in particular: the decision to cut funding to local government under the Financial Assistance Grants, the decision in this place yesterday to stop debate and block a motion to ensure Roads to Recovery funding, and the petrol tax.

    Our local population growth is amongst the fastest across Australia and is projected to continue on that steep curve. Stop at any street corner in Lalor and ask a local about transport and you will hear a tale of woe, whether that be public or private. On roads you will hear about travel times to work on congested freeways and buses that do not meet trains due to congestion. You will hear about 45-minute journeys to travel 10 kilometres within the city on the school run or to get to work. You will hear about where country roads now take city traffic and hundreds of trucks a day.

    This cruel budget of lies has dealt families a significant blow by cutting funding to Wyndham City Council under the Financial Assistance Grants program. The local council uses this funding to invest in local roads and other significant priority projects. It is deplorable to see the Abbott government move to reduce funding for local roads. In the case of Wyndham council more than $3.36 million has been cut for local roads and other priority projects over the next three years.

    But then yesterday this government added insult to injury; they added salt to the wounds of the people of Lalor. They failed to make certain that $350 million in Roads to Recovery funding would be provided to local governments across the country as well. After what we thought was Minister Truss's inept handling of the legislative program—I know, hard to imagine unless you heard the Treasurer recently say that changes to pensions would be taken to an election when in fact the legislation had passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. We thought Minister Truss had a similar brain fade; we thought he had forgotten to introduce legislation to ensure the Roads to Recovery Program funding beyond 30 June, but it seems not. No, yesterday, when Mr Albanese put up a private members bill to help them out and ensure the funding, those opposite gagged debate and voted it down. The Abbott government's significant, now double-barrelled, cuts to local councils will rip another $3 million away from our local governments and local roads. The result will be felt by local commuters who continue to battle road congestion across Lalor. These programs make local roads safer by improving conditions and easing congestion.

    When Labor were in government, we knew the importance of investing in our transport system. We funded the Regional Rail Link with $3.225 billion from our Nation Building Program. We committed significant funding to a number of major infrastructure projects along the Western Highway and the Western Ring Road. Both the Wyndham City Council and Hobsons Bay City Council received unprecedented funding from the Roads to Recovery and financial assistance grants programs. The contrast between Labor and the coalition could not be more stark.

    And this scenario gets even worse when you add in the petrol tax and the out-of-touch Treasurer. Not only will the congestion worsen and see commuters across Lalor battling traffic for longer, they will be paying more for the privilege. Joe Hockey's recent comments that the 'poorest people either do not have cars or actually do not drive' is a slap in the face to the 50,000 Lalor residents travelling to work each day. Almost 60 per cent of Lalor families have two or more vehicles in the home and the average distance for 60 per cent of Lalor residents' who drive to work is 25 kilometres a day—day in day out. That is a remarkable number of people travelling a remarkable distance—one of the highest in the country. High petrol costs impact heavily on the family budget in Lalor, especially for locals who travel further to work than most other Australians. Our Treasurer is simply out of touch.

  • Abbott cuts funding in a double hit to Lalor commuters

    The Abbott Government’s decision to cut funding to local councils is deeply concerning given the transport issues faced by Lalor residents.

    Yesterday’s announcement of $2.3 billion in Financial Assistance Grants to local government confirms that councils all over the country will receive a cut in real terms this year, because of Mr Abbott’s short-sighted decision to freeze annual indexation of the grants, which are used for roads and other council spending.

    Federal Member for Lalor Joanne Ryan has released new analysis today showing more than $3.36 million had been cut to Wyndham Council for local roads and other priority projects over the next three years.

    “The Abbott Government’s significant cuts to local council will result in even further turmoil for local commuters who continue to battle road congestion across Lalor,” Ms Ryan said.

    The Abbott Government’s own budget papers outline their attack on local road funding.

    LG_grants.png

    “This program makes local roads safer by improving conditions and easing congestion. This decision is placing an unreasonable burden on Wyndham Council and will severely compromise road safety standards,” Ms Ryan said.

    “Wyndham Council will now have to make tough decisions about what they will cut because of the Abbott Government’s unfair Budget. That can only hurt services, roads and jobs.”

    The freeze comes on top of bungling Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss’s inept failure to secure continued funding to continue the $2.1 billion Roads to Recovery scheme, which expired on June 30.

    Despite bi-partisan support for Roads to Recovery, Mr Truss forgot to put legislation to the Senate allowing for the scheme’s continuation prior to the June 30 expiry date.

    Wyndham Council received $3.57 million from the Labor Government under Roads to Recovery between 2009-10 and 2013-14. Future funding under this program is now uncertain.

    “These Budget measures rip out vital money needed for roads and community facilities needed in this high growth area,” Ms Ryan

    “The cut of one road funding program and the bungling of another proves how inept this Government is. Not only can they not get their budget right, they also can’t manage the business of the parliament right either.

    “Their incompetence is costing Lalor commuters dearly.

     

    Estimated Financial Assistance Grants to Wyndham City Council 2014–15 to 2016–17

     

    2013–14 Budget

    Labor Budget

    2014–15 Budget

    Liberal Budget

    Difference

    2014–15

     $14,304,423

     $13,821,703

    -$482,720

    2015–16

     $14,941,202

     $13,824,271

    -$1,116,931

    2016–17

     $15,590,819

     $13,829,406

    -$1,761,413

    TOTAL

     $44,836,444

     $41,475,379

    -$3,361,064

    *Compares variance for Victorian Financial assistance to local governments between 2013-14 Federal Budget and 2014-15 Federal Budget over the forward estimates.  Assumes Wyndham Council will continue to receive 2.5677% of grants to Victoria as occurred in 2013-14.

     

  • Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

    I rise today to support the motion moved by the member for Perth and join her in calling on the government to retain the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal so that it can do its job to make our roads safer for all users. I note the comments by the member for Parkes and would say that I have not been here long but I have learnt one thing: defence is the best form of attack. So, yes, I too am jumping early and with good reason. Words like 'unstuck' and 'safety could be assumed to be a burden' have me on my feet today.

    The passing of the original legislation in 2012 was an important moment for all Australians. It sent a clear message about the then Labor government's commitment to road safety. But more than sending a message, it ensured that action would be taken to make our roads safer. It created the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, with specific powers to ensure pay and pay related conditions for truck drivers and that they and the trucks they are driving are at their best when they are on our roads. It was introduced in response to alarming statistics in human cost. Between 2010 and 2012, around 250 people were killed and more than 1,000 suffered serious injuries on our roads in accidents involving trucks. It was the Australian industry with the highest incidence of fatal injuries, with 25 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2008-09. It was 10 times higher than the average for all industries. The legislation was passed to address specific issues: to reduce incentives for drivers to push themselves beyond what is fair, reasonable or safe to make unrealistic deadlines and a decent living; to reduce incentives to cut corners on safety and maintenance; and to make our roads safer for truck drivers and the general public.

    The tribunal was created to do all that was necessary to ensure that truck drivers, whether they are an employee or a self-employed owner-driver, have a safe and fair workplace, while sustaining the long-term viability of the road transport industry. The government of the day recognised the important role of small business, particularly owner-drivers, in the road transport industry. They acknowledged that the small businesses in this sector provide flexibility for businesses to meet demand for the delivery of goods, particularly in rural and regional areas. It was noted at the time of introducing the legislation that small businesses made up around 60 per cent of the road transport industry, yet they made up far less of the income earned in that industry. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal works with all stakeholders to ensure that pay and pay-related conditions encourage drivers to drive safely, to manage their hours, and to maintain their vehicles.

    The safety of truck drivers and of the community is paramount. When your place of work is the cabin of a prime mover, work conditions and rates of pay that allow for rest are essential for your own safety, for the security of your family and for the safety of everyone else using the road. I heard the term 'road train'—long before I saw one for the first time on the Stuart Highway in 1984—from two brothers who were owner-drivers doing interstate haulage. I was taught by those same brothers to respect trucks on the road and to understand their capacities and limitations. I understand the variation of load on the way a truck manoeuvres, and I appreciate and admire the skill of experienced drivers as much as I admire those who load and secure trucks and ensure driver safety. I understand how important sleep is for truck drivers because, as a family, we lived it.

    I also understand the pressures to meet the deadlines; the hours spent waiting to load and unload; the time off the road for repairs and maintenance, or because the roads are congested or flooded—and what it costs in terms of income. I understand the pressure to make the payments on the truck and to keep the business alive. I also understand the love for the work. With that, I also understand how unfair the industry can be, how cutthroat, and how an owner-driver has little time for politics, or organising, or lobbying. In my experience, there was no time for that—just the pressure to stay on the road and make a living. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was established specifically to target this, in an industry that is essential for our economy: to make that industry safer and fairer. While the economic cost is important, it is the human cost that really counts. Very few Australians have not been affected by the loss of a loved family member, a workmate or a friend in a road accident. My family is no different; except that the one we lost was an owner-driver, thrown from his prime mover on a sweeping bend. My family have lived the nightmare of the police visit with the ghastly news. It was a single-vehicle accident so we were, thankfully, spared the worst news—that others might have been killed or injured. The effect was devastating.

    As a society, we have changed the way we socialise to counter the damage of road accidents. We have spent millions of dollars on advertising and deterrence. I urge the government to let the tribunal get on with the job.