VTA 2015: Anderson calls for bi-partisan approach to transport

VTA CEO says there needs to be an end to the 'political football in Victoria' and a focus on hot button issues

VTA 2015: Anderson calls for bi-partisan approach to transport
VTA CEO Peter Anderson reflects community concern on infrastructure.


Describing transport as the hot button issue at present, Victorian Transport Association chief executive officer Peter Anderson called for politicians to put differences aside to address Victoria’s deficiencies at the association’s annual state conference in Lorne.

"A day rarely passes when the VTA isn’t asked to comment or react on the radio or in the newspapers about transport infrastructure related matters, such as grade separations and level crossings, freeway or tollway maintenance and improvements, the East-West Link, Transurban’s proposed Western Distributor, or any of the many other proposals to get our roads moving," Anderson says.

"All of this is fuelled by the clear reality that congestion on our roads is a source of massive frustration for drivers of all modes of transport, and in the absence of a ‘shovel-ready’, big-ticket road project, transport operators – and business more generally – are desperate for something significant to be built soon."

The ongoing involvement of both state and federal politicians in the East-West link saga and the "persistent question marks over federal funding that was earmarked for that road" have turned transport into "something of a political football in Victoria", he says.

"Our message to state and federal government is to please put politics aside and initiate a roads project very soon that provides genuine solutions to our major transport bottlenecks."

The unaligned association sees a solution in a northern road to link the Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and says it is buoyed by support from the RACV.

"That connection is vital to connect heavy transport vehicles from Melbourne’s south east through to the new Epping wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the north, and then on to other roads of national significance, to the west and north, like the Hume Highway," Anderson says.

"We are encouraged the RACV also has that missing link as its number one priority, and we will continue to prosecute our case for that connection to be made."

The construction of such roads in Victoria are being stalled by the sale of the Port of Melbourne, the VTA chief says, but urges the parties involved to make sure they keep operators in mind during the process.

"So much of the infrastructure spending in the Victorian Budget is tied to port sale proceeds," he says.

"At the same time, the competitiveness of that port in a national context hinges on a fair sale outcome that does not discourage competiveness. We urge all parties to proceed very carefully in a way that maximises sale proceeds but not at the expense of port operators and their ability to compete."

The comments come on the heels of the Australian Infrastructure Audit Report, which called for high productivity vehicles and road charging reforms amongst others that should be part of a 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan.

The report was backed by the Australian Logistics Council, Queensland Transport Association and engineers yesterday, who reinforced calls for all levels of government to act on the findings.  

Advances on productivity, health

Anderson congratulated the transport industry on the progress it had made to boost productivity, while also instigating and applying health reforms.

"Since taking on the CEO role I have been so encouraged and impressed with the leadership position from our members in areas like people management, supply chain management, occupational health and safety, training, and embracing technology to realise efficiency and productivity gains," he says.

"I have also been really impressed with the partnership approach we continue to take with state and national regulatory authorities to advance critical workplace health and safety issues and other matters.

"We’ve just completed a hugely successful series of forums in regional Victoria where representatives from VicRoads, VicTrack, WorkSafe, the Victoria Police, TWUSUPER and the VTA were able to address around 150 transport operators on a wide range of issues. Interest from regional operators is as strong as ever because they understand the health of our industry and its workers is vital for their businesses to grow and prosper," he says.

Addressing more than 150 transport industry representatives, the VTA head announced it was the people in the transport industry who have changed its wider community perception.

"For the most part they embrace their responsibility as employers to initiate programs that can reduce fatigue, improve vehicle safety management and performance, provide opportunity for workers and generally work to improve the image of our industry," Anderson says.

"As an industry we have worked hard to improve our image and reputation in the community through instituting regular training and driver education programs, participating in community forums about road safety and congestion, and advocating all the good things we are doing to improve safety and enshrining a sharing the road culture, not just among truck drivers but among all road users.

"These programs are vital to reducing costs for transport operators, as are more tangible things like improving vehicle efficiency and improving our supply chains to find savings. They also demonstrate the accountability our industry is actively adopting as a good corporate and community citizen," he says.

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