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Government response to truck drivers' blockade

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M inister for Transport and Communications Senator Gareth Evans Q.C.

COMMONWEALTH f parliamentary library { c. I . s ._____ |



The Minister for Transport and Communications, Senator Gareth Evans, today made a five-point offer to truck drivers blockading the Hume Highway at Yass.

In doing so, Senator, Evans said that new registration fee arrangements, against which the group of drivers were protesting, were part of a larger package of reforms which were strongly supported by the road industry and all governments, State and

Federal, before being introduced on 1 July.

"The very large increases, which are a particular focus of the protest, relate to trucks moving up to a new 42.5 tonnes category, which brings significant economic returns for operators," he said.

Nonetheless, in an effort to respond constructively to the grievances of the group of demonstrating truck drivers, Senator Evans proposed that:

. he meet the drivers' representatives in Canberra today if the drivers agreed to end their blockade

. a meeting be arranged between the drivers' representatives and the Minister for Transport and Communications Support, Mr Peter Morris, in August when Mr Morris returned from overseas

. the Department provide as much assistance as possible to help truck drivers who may be having trouble with the new Federal interstate registration arrangements

. uniformity of vehicle and load dimensions be made a top priority for the Federal government to resolve with the States

. the Department examine the possibility of staggering the payment of Federal interstate registration fees.

Senator Evans said: "My proposals were put to this group of truck drivers by officers of my Department who have been on the scene at Yass since daybreak, and who have remained there throughout

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the day.

"I appeal to the drivers concerned to immediately lift their blockade of the Hume Highway and permit their colleagues who are not involved in this protest to get on with their work.

"While the Federal government cannot agree to a moratorium on these new arrangements, which have been agreed to by all State governments and the major road freight and trucking organisations, we are prepared to examine assistance in their implementation where it may be needed.

"I remain willing to meet representatives of the group of truck drivers once the blockade is lifted."

Senator Evans noted that some of the truck drivers' stated grievances, including the question of driver licensing, were matters for the NSW Government to consider.

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Details of the second stage of the Federal Government's package of road transport reforms were announced on 26 April 1988. A copy of Peter Morris' statement at the time was boxed earlier this afternoon.

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Further information:

Brian Hill (062) 73 3979

CANBERRA 12 July 1988