Thursday 14 April 2005


Mr FINCH - Mr President, I have a two-part question for the Leader. Will the State Government give serious consideration to a call by a leading log-truck operator for truck speed limits on some roads? Secondly, will the Government also do what it can to address a recorded shortage of about 150 skilled heavy-vehicle drivers in Tasmania?

Members interjecting.

Mr AIRD - Mr President, I thank the honourable member for his serious question, which I will not allow the other members to trivialise. Mr President, the minister announced last week that the Transport Engineering Research New Zealand Limited - TERNZ - study will look at all possible contributing factors to heavy vehicle crashes, including vehicle design, weight, speed, driver behaviour and road geometry. If there are demonstrable safety concerns then the consultants will be asked to recommend measures to reduce the crash risk. The Tasmanian Government will obviously need to wait for the recommendations before we know if a particular course of action is needed. I do not have the date of when they intend to report, but I can find that out for you at a later time.

In relation to the second part of the question I am aware that the transport industry is becoming concerned about a shortage of heavy-vehicle drivers, particularly in the light of projected increases in the freight task. I understand that the transport industry is currently looking at ways to address this. The State Government has committed an additional $5.3 million over three years to TAFE Tasmania to fund additional training places in the industry areas experiencing skill shortages, and obviously this would be part of that. This is part of the State Government's strategy for post-year 10 education and training and, as I alluded to earlier on today, entitled Tasmania: a State of Learning.