More “Monster Trucks” On Our Roads Under Baillieu
A secret Baillieu Government plan to roll out “monster trucks” throughout Melbourne suburbs has now been confirmed by VicRoads, Shadow Minister for Freight and Logistics Tim Pallas said today.
Mr Pallas said the Baillieu Government was expanding a trial of big trucks on Melbourne’s roads despite Minister Terry Mulder and Minister Dennis Napthine being staunch critics of the former Labor Government’s on-road freight efficiency trials when in Opposition.
“Under the secret plan, Napthine’s “super monster trucks” will run through Melbourne communities at all hours of the day and night without many of the restrictions put in place by the previous Labor Government,” Mr Pallas said.
“The Opposition does not support allowing bigger trucks to travel on our roads during peak periods while commuters are making their way to and from work.”
Mr Pallas said the Baillieu Government’s secret plan to expand the big truck trial was revealed by a senior VicRoads officer at a freight conference on 6 September.
The officer said VicRoads was considering developing a volumetric (cubic) network of up to 68.5 tonnes on strategic and priority freight routes, removing peak hour restrictions from metropolitan roads and allowing A-Doubles (known as road trains), and combinations longer than 30 metres, to enter the trial.
Mr Pallas said the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Edward O’Donohue, had secretly confirmed the trial at an industry forum three days later.
“I can assure you that the Minister (Terry Mulder) is keen to see more use made of HPFV’s (High Productivity Freight Vehicles) in the metropolitan area, and it’s an area he will be devoting considerable attention to.”
“This is the same Minister who in Opposition criticised the limited larger truck trial as akin to a ‘cancer, slowly spreading their tentacles into every nook and cranny of Melbourne’,” Mr Pallas said. (Herald Sun 13 Nov 2008)
At the same forum, a senior Department of Transport officer said “…productivity is everything”, and dismissed community concerns by saying the previous trial by the former Government had been “catering to the community’s perceived concerns…”.
“What I can say is we have learned the lesson, and indeed we probably should have listened more to what industry was saying at the time we were developing the trial’s guidelines,” the officer said.
Mr Pallas said thousands more trucks could roar through Melbourne suburbs night and day under the Baillieu Government, with no plan to divert the trucks away from communities and without one new dollar spent on infrastructure upgrades.
“The former Labor Government’s trial balanced the needs of the community with those of the industry by restricting the time when these trucks could travel,” Mr Pallas said.
“But it appears the Baillieu Government wants to dump the restrictions and override the community’s needs with the wants of industry.”
Mr Pallas said this was nothing but hypocrisy from the Baillieu Government given previous statements when in Opposition.
On August 8, 2008, Shadow Transport Minister Terry Mulder said:
“Many Victorians may believe that upgrading of interstate and intrastate rail lines may be a safer more productive and cheaper alternative.”(Geelong Advertiser)
On 11 March, 2009, Shadow Minister for Ports Denis Napthine said:
“These are big trucks, super-trucks, monster trucks, much bigger than the B-doubles on the road… Now I am calling on the government to put the money where its mouth is and fund the road improvements before it puts the super monster trucks on our local roads.” (Hansard)
On 9 June, 2009, Mr Naphine said:
“These trucks will create a real danger on our roads. It’s time the minister put these plans on ice until the roads are upgraded.” (Hansard)
“The Baillieu Government has done nothing to invest in Melbourne’s roads, and shelved the former Labor Government’s Truck Action Plan to channel freight traffic more directly to and from the Port and away from suburban streets,” Mr Pallas said.
“This secret big truck rollout could devastate the quality of life for many local communities.”
Mr Pallas said broad community consultation to address safety perceptions and infrastructure investment was crucial to improving freight efficiency.