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TRANSCRIPT
PRESS CONFERENCE
17 APRIL 2017

Subjects: New safety cameras for heavy vehicles in Victoria, housing affordability, decentralisation, Budget speculation

SAL PETROCCITTO:

… to announce the first of five heavy vehicle safety cameras to be implemented on the Victorian road network to improve heavy vehicle safety and, more importantly, to actually connect to a heavy vehicle camera network across the country.

Every year we see serious fatalities on our network. Anything that we can do to actually reduce those numbers of fatalities and make heavy vehicles much safer is an important initiative for all of us. With the support of the Commonwealth Government, we’ve been able to ascertain some funding to install these high tech cameras which capture images of our heavy vehicle industry and the way trucks move on the network. More broadly, once they’re connected to a national network of cameras, we’ll actually be able to understand the type of activities and movements on our network.

I’m here today with Minister Chester, who has taken a very strong interest and passion in road safety, to make this announcement on this very exciting project. And I would now like to hand over to the Minister to say a few words.

DARREN CHESTER:

Thank you Sal. Well it’s great to be here with Sal Petroccitto from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. Last year more than 200 people were killed in crashes involving heavy vehicles and buses around Australia, and nationwide 1300 people died on our roads last year. I simply don’t accept that another 1300 people have to die on our roads this year.

We’re working in partnership with the NHVR, with state governments, with various state organisations and with the heavy vehicle sector itself to reduce road trauma. The installation of these five cameras will assist in terms of monitoring heavy vehicle activity, not just here in Victoria, but linking into other cameras around Australia. It will help in terms of the compliance activity being undertaken by the enforcement agencies around Australia as well. We want to make sure that truck drivers who are doing the right thing will be unaffected by these cameras. It’s the people who are doing the wrong thing that need to be targeted and be the subject to enforcement efforts. We understand that if we invest in safer roads, if we invest in safer drivers, if we invest in safer vehicles we can actually reduce road trauma and this is part of the Federal Government working in partnership with the community to improve road safety.

QUESTION:

How widespread do you think compliance breaches are across, say, Victoria and the country?

DARREN CHESTER:

I think the overwhelming majority of truck drivers do the right thing. They want to go to work and come home safely after doing a good, hard day’s work. But a small minority are out there trying to flout the regulations or trying to avoid detection by enforcement officers, we need to bring in high tech equipment to make sure we catch up with them as well.

We recognise that there were 200 deaths last year in crashes involving heavy vehicles, and in the majority of cases, it wasn’t the heavy vehicle driver who was at fault. So we need to learn to share the road better with our heavy vehicle operators. At the same time, we need to make sure that everyone in the industry is doing the right thing.

QUESTION:

Do you think five cameras is enough to prevent these breaches of compliance?

DARREN CHESTER:

We’re working with other jurisdictions across Australia. The Federal Government is working with all the state governments in terms of installation of cameras around the nation. We’ll have dozens of these cameras around Australia as we roll them out and they’ll be linked in to provide a better picture of whether the heavy vehicle operators are meeting their compliance requirements. So this is a very good start in Victoria with five new camera sites, they’ll be linked into the other states into the future and it will provide a better picture of what’s actually going on in the heavy vehicle sector.

QUESTION:

Lindsay Fox has been very critical of the Victorian Government’s position on trucks. Is this just more draconian measures being introduced by government on the truck industry?

DARREN CHESTER:

Oh not at all, Lindsay Fox is a very significant investor in new technology in his own fleet. He recognises the importance of safety in his vehicles. Lindsay has been very much at the forefront of trying to reduce road trauma involving his drivers, because he understands that the drivers need to come home safely. So he’s investing in his own vehicles and we’re investing in the network to try and improve safety, not just for heavy vehicles operators, but for all road users.

QUESTION:

Just on some federal issues. Do you believe young people should be able to use Super to buy a home early?

DARREN CHESTER:

There’s been a lot of speculation about what may or may not be in the Budget and I won’t add to it today. I recognise that housing affordability is a big issue for a large number of people in our community, particularly in a metropolitan environment. For someone like me who represents a regional electorate, we invite people to think of the options of living in regional areas as well. If you’re having trouble with housing affordability in the metropolitan area, look for opportunities in some of our regional centres, where there’s a great quality of life available to you and far more affordable housing.

QUESTION:

It’s been reported the Government’s decentralisation policy won’t see any agencies move to Victoria. Is that right and will you be fighting to change that?

DARREN CHESTER:

Well I’m fighting every day to try and attract more jobs to my community. Whether it be in Traralgon or Morwell or the Latrobe Valley or further east in Gippsland itself, right around regional Victoria we’re looking for opportunities to partner with other levels of government to improve job opportunities in those regional centres. We’ve seen it work in the past. For the last 20 or 30 years we’ve seen decentralisation of government agencies. We’ve seen it in Traralgon with the ASIC establishment. We need to work with all levels of government to try and see more job opportunities in regional Victoria.

QUESTION:

Minister, how effective is the Work for the Dole program, do you think?

DARREN CHESTER:

I think Work for the Dole has varying levels of success. I’ve been a part of programs in my electorate where it’s been extraordinarily successful and young people have learned new skills and made a meaningful contribution to the community. And then I’ve seen other programs which haven’t been quite as successful. So in terms of quality control, I think there’s work that could be done on improving Work for the Dole and it’s something I’m very keen to work with the Government to achieve.

QUESTION:

So would you be disappointed if it was discontinued in the next budget?

DARREN CHESTER:

The best thing we can do for young people in Australia and older workers as well, is make sure they have the opportunity to get a job in the first place. Work for the Dole is a back up to our efforts to try and boost the economy and create more employment opportunities right throughout Australia. So in terms of Work for the Dole, I think it has its place, but the most important thing to do is try and help industry create more jobs to give people more opportunities to work right throughout Australia. And that’s what we’ve been doing with our small business tax plan. It’s what we’re doing with our investment in infrastructure, our $50 billion infrastructure investment program right across Australia. The best thing we can be doing as the Government, is supporting industry, supporting small businesses that actually create jobs.

QUESTION:

But are you hearing on the Canberra rumour mill that it will be axed from the next Budget?

DARREN CHESTER:

I’m hearing lots of things on the Canberra rumour mill and I’m prepared to wait the four or five weeks until the Budget comes out and we’ll find out once and for all.

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