Remarks at the Australian Trucking Association Headquarters, Forrest, ACT
Ben Maguire: Good morning everybody. I want to welcome the Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack to the Australian Trucking Association today. We also have with us Martin Merrick who is the President of Volvo Group Australia and Melissa Weller who is our Manager of Safety and Skills.
Today the Acting Prime Minister is announcing some funding that is going to enhance road safety and our ability to promote road safety across Australia. We're really delighted and certainly acknowledge and thank the Government for their support. We say welcome today to you.
We know this is going to make a difference in young people's lives and how they operate around heavy vehicles.
Michael McCormack: Thank you Ben. I very much appreciate your role at the Australian Trucking Association and all that your organisation does.
It's great to be here too with Martin and Melissa. Martin of course is from Volvo. Volvo has manufactured the truck that we see behind us in Brisbane, in Australia—an Australian manufactured truck—and a truck that's has been the recipient, the Australian Trucking Association the recipient, of this $400,000 funding initiative by the Australian Government, by the Liberals and Nationals' Government, to make sure schoolchildren have the capacity to know the importance of road safety.
This is virtually a mobile classroom. This is going to visit schools. It's going to visit tertiary institutions. It's going to go right across Australia including Tasmania which I think will be almost your first stop-off, Ben.
This is going to be so important to teach children, to teach those people who in just a few short years after leaving school—and some of them whilst at school—will be going on the roads for the very first time. They need to know that trucks are big vehicles. They need to know that they need to leave room for trucks when they overtake. They need to realise how big these rigs are.
Road safety is paramount. Road safety is one of the most important things for me in my capacity as the Minister for Transport, for Infrastructure and certainly for Regional Development, where unfortunately the road statistics are far higher for regional people than indeed any others in Australia. It's important they know the size of these trucks, how large they are and how they need to leave room for them.
So I'm delighted that the Federal Government has put $400,000 towards this vehicle continuing on the road. I'm delighted the Australian Government has put this funding forward to the Australian Trucking Association. It does such a great job.
I've travelled in this particular vehicle from Kilmore to Melbourne with Ben behind the wheel, not that long ago, late last year. Even over that short distance then, we saw a number of near misses as people didn't give us time when they were overtaking, when people didn't give us time when they didn't realise just how large the truck is. Of course, Ben being the responsible driver that he was, was doing everything right.
Our truck drivers are the lifeblood of our nation. The truck drivers of Australia, they get all the goods right around Australia. They do an amazing job for and on behalf of Australia, particularly for and on behalf of regional Australia.
So I commend the ATA. I commend Volvo. I commend this initiative. It's important for road safety. Just this week I gave a Ministerial Statement on Road Safety. As I say, it's front and centre of everything I do in my Ministerial portfolio.
I'm delighted that the Federal Government has made this announcement today. I'm delighted that we've invested $400,000 into this very worthwhile initiative. And I know that it's going to save lives in the future. I know that it's going to teach children the importance of road safety and the importance of giving trucks the room they need when they are on our highways and byways.
Martin Merrick: I'm delighted to be associated with the ATA. The work that Melissa and Ben have done is fantastic. We are dedicated to safety. Thanks very much for what you have done, the ATA, and also the investment the Federal Government in the trailer behind the prime mover. It's fantastic initiative.