Radio 2CC Canberra Breakfast

Tim Shaw: A very important announcement today by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Michael McCormack, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Leader of The Nationals and of course Federal Member for Riverina.

I went to the Deputy Prime Minister's office yesterday and we got a sneak peek on the policy that he is launching this morning. It's so important—giving young drivers the key to safely share the road.

The Liberal and Nationals' Government is determined to reduce the number of crashes involving heavy vehicles and they're investing with the Australian Trucking Association's Safety Truck to educate young people across the country to safely share the road.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals' Leader Michael McCormack on 2CC Breakfast: I caught up with him in his Parliamentary office yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister, we're going to save a lot of lives on Australian roads. Tell me how.

Michael McCormack: The Australian Trucking Association is the beneficiary of a $400,000 grant for their truck which gets out and educates people—particularly young people—about why it's important to share the road. About road safety and about the fact that trucks are doing a grand job, but they need to be reminded they are on the road and to make sure that they share the road with those trucks.

Tim Shaw: I've spoken to truckies all over Australia. Their main concern is road users that are in sedans: they come up too close; they're propping; their brakes on; they're trying to overtake at the wrong time.

Now you know they are the engine room of the Australian economy, the Australian trucker, but do we need better state and territory education to combine with this federal initiative?

Michael McCormack: We do. Any education that helps people better understand the importance of sharing the road has got to be encouraged. So I would ask the states and territories to do what they can too to get out there—to share the love—to make sure that we share the road better.

And to make sure that we recognise that trucks are big rigs, that they are doing an amazing job transporting the goods around our nation. They are the lifeblood of our nation. They are the heartbeat and soul of so many industries. We need to make sure that road safety is paramount.

Of course, as we head towards that vision zero we've got, that zero target of road fatalities, bear in mind that whenever there is an accident involving a truckie that on 80%, 90% of the occasions it's not the truck driver's fault. So give them room, give them time, watch when you are overtaking and just share the road.

Tim Shaw: You know, again, speaking to those Aussie truckies there's not enough rest places for them to park and some campers and holidaymakers are setting up in this location. This is a real challenge because you want truckies to obey the law, you've got electronic log books coming—there's a lot of compliance for them, isn't here?

Michael McCormack: There is. We're rolling out more truck stops and we need to do that. That is something we want to do.

What we don't want is the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, that very ill-named tribunal that was set up for minimum truckie rates. That is going to force family owner operators off the road. That is going to cause so much harm to an industry which gives so much to our nation.

Tim Shaw: Yes. I want to talk about the fine work done by the Morrison/McCormack Government in terms of recovery and relief into Townsville, into Far North Queensland—again, the truckies of Australia are delivering the food to the supermarkets and the rebuilding materials—are we doing enough?

Michael McCormack: We have been very responsive. We've already got $90 million out the door through the Human Services Department, through Centrelink to affected people. Our truckies are also doing a great job.

Bear in mind that there are more than 800 spots throughout that area of North Queensland alone where the road has either been fully washed away or there are large potholes, which is causing a lot of concern.

I will give the Queensland Government and the Roads Minister there Mark Bailey credit. We have been working together to do what we can to get local people out on the ground providing fixes for local roads.

But we will be talking more and announcing a package of measures to help those North Queenslanders. They are resilient people. They are amazing people. I have been up there. I have spoken to them. They will get back on their feet but they are going to need Government to help them.

We've got a relief and recovery effort at the moment but we are now moving into the reconstruction phase. We will rebuild the cattle industry. Truckies are going to play a big part in it.

Tim Shaw: Absolutely. “Backflip Bill” is what some critics are saying about the mortgage brokers, that recommendation from the banking royal commission—how come the Labor Party can't seem to get their story right?

Michael McCormack: The Labor Party can't seem to get any story right. The fact is they stand for weaker borders. The fact is they stand for a weaker economy. People just know they can't trust Bill Shorten.

Tim Shaw: That impact for mortgage brokers—they're helping out in that recovery area as well up in Townsville. What more measures—this won't happen overnight; this could be a 10 year build, particularly for those cattle stock numbers—there is a huge amount of work to do.

Michael McCormack: Tim you've hit the nail right on the head. It's going to take a decade to rebuild North Queensland. But do you know what, they will rebuild. They are tough people. You go up there and you talk to the station owners as I did—they're thinking of their neighbour. They're thinking of their community. They're not thinking of themselves.

But it is going to take a big, big effort. The Federal Government stands there to work with them shoulder to shoulder. We're going to be right beside them as they rebuild. We've put a lot of money in already. We will do more. And certainly I know the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made it his number one priority.

Tim Shaw: Finally, Senator Arthur Sinodinos has warned you: Don't do any more singing, Michael McCormack. How do you respond?

Michael McCormack: Well as I said to him, don't be cruel to a heart that's true! Arthur, if there's something I might have said, please let's forget the past. The future looks bright ahead—and it certainly looks bright ahead for the Liberal and Nationals Parties.

We're going to make every post a winner. We've got five weeks before we are going to produce the first budget surplus in about a dozen years. Labor doesn't understand the definition of a surplus budget. Josh Frydenberg does. The Liberals and Nats do.

The economy is looking good. Job figures are good. If you want a job there's a job there for you. We're strong on borders. We're going to make sure that every post is a winner in the next three months leading up to the election.

Tim Shaw: He's a Prime Minister…he wouldn't mind being Prime Minister; he's Deputy Prime Minister, he's a poet. Michael McCormack, thanks for joining us.

Michael McCormack: Good on you Tim.

Tim Shaw: He is Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and he's on his way out there to join the team at the Australian Trucking Association. This virtual reality truck that they've created is just so important.

The Safety Truck is going to travel 60,000 kilometres a year around Australia engaging tens of thousands of young people at trucking industry events, career expos, high schools and tertiary institutions, and it's a great idea. It will give them that birds' eye view of what it's like to be an Australian trucker and what we need to do when it comes to road safety.

Everyone, when you go from A to B, we want you to get to B safely. That is what it's all about.