Commonwealth funding partnerships with relevant jurisdictions are needed to improve road infrastructure, a federal parliamentary inquiry has said.
The report from the inquiry into the importance of a viable, safe, sustainable, and efficient road transport industry published last week also said the federal government should:
- Establish a national fund to assess, maintain and upgrade freight road in rural and regional areas; and
- develop a set of national guidelines for town planners regarding road envelopes and other factors required to facilitate efficient and safe road-based logistics support in metropolitan areas.
The foreword to the report by Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee pointed to the need for immediate federal government intervention to change the operation, practice and, safety culture of the industry by establishing “a central powerful independent body to regulate, promote, fund and support all parts of the sector”.
“There is a safety crisis in the industry and the underlying economic and contracting pressures are the leading causes,” the report said.
“The role of governments has to date focused on scrutinising the risk-taking behaviour of drivers and consequent enforcement mechanisms.
“There are insufficient efforts to address the underlying systemic causes for such behaviour and the way in which such pressures are driving unsafe work practices.”
Among other recommendations, the committee said the Commonwealth should adopt national guidelines for the design and placement of heavy vehicle rest areas for major highways and significant freight routes.
In its submission to the inquiry, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said that despite much-needed Commonwealth funding increases to assist in addressing the road safety issues on local roads, investments were still well short of recommendations from an inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy (2018) for an additional $3 billion per annum for a road safety fund.
“The priorities of ALGA and its member associations which relate to infrastructure are only part of the broad issues the Committee is considering, but the need for adequate funding to maintain and improve local roads is essential to ensuring a safe and efficient road transport industry,” the submission said.