House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Questions without Notice


2:39 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Murray, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on how our government is standing by Australian families, cutting red tape and letting common sense drive support for rural and regional Australians during this drought? And what different ideas stifle small business growth in rural and regional Australia?

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Murray for his question. Tough times need common sense, and that's precisely what's happening. That is what this government is delivering. We came to government with a promise to cut red tape and make it simpler for small businesses to do what they do. They do it best of all the businesses. Small, family and medium enterprises do it best.

That's why, from midnight tonight, truckies will no longer have a red-tape burden in getting practical support to drought-affected communities. Larger loads of hay and fodder will be allowed to travel on state and national controlled roads. I have just received a media release hot off the press saying, 'Victorian farmers welcome hay trucking.' The VFF Grains Council president, Ross Johns, said, 'We hope this is the first step towards a harmonised national hay-carting notice.' It is. It is harmonised. It is going to go right across state and national roads.

Heavy vehicles up to a maximum height of 4.6 metres and a maximum width of 2.83 metres will no longer require a permit to access the existing state controlled road networks. Previously, access was limited for class 3 vehicles up to 2.6 metres wide and 4.3 metres high.

Mr Shorten interjecting

You might need to list to this, Labor leader. You are a bit of a straw man, but you might need to listen to this. We are harmonising those laws across the state and eliminating permits. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator notice will remove the need for up to 6,000 consents a year. This is important for our drought-affected communities. This is important for those farmers who need the hay, the fodder, to feed their animals.

This will benefit small family businesses such as Peacock's Transport in Rochester, run by Alex Peacock and his daughter, Beth. They cart hay into drought-affected communities interstate. They are good people. Like so many, they have opened their hearts and opened their wallets. That's true country spirit. They want to get on with the job of helping those drought-stricken communities and they see these changes as being very positive. These changes increase their capacity to deliver fodder into drought-affected areas interstate.

It's estimated that farming operators will save the equivalent of up to 54,000 days per year applying for and waiting for permits. Across the board, that's 54,000 days. It is equivalent to 148 years of bureaucracy—gone like that. That's what it's doing. It follows investments in programs such as Roads to Recovery and the Drought Communities Program, which put power into the hands of locals to make local decisions.

But what will those opposite do? They will put a wrecking ball through all of those rural communities and they will reinstate the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. That will force family owned trucking companies off the road. It will unionise the trucking sector. I know that's what they want, but why force those hardworking family owned trucking companies off the road? (Time expired)