THE VICTORIAN Transport Association’s state conference commenced on Sunday.

In the opening address, assistant minister for road safety and freight transport Scott Buchholz told the 180 gathered delegates that the Morrison government was committed to a safer, increasingly productive and more profitable freight and road transport sector.

Mr Buchholz said the government had put rubber to the road to support a better transport industry in Australia.

“In infrastructure, technology, safety and innovation, our government is making the necessary investments to make your lives, your jobs, your workplaces safer and more productive,” he said.

“Our government understands that better infrastructure, means a safer, faster journey from paddock to port. That is why we’re investing $110 billion over 10 years from 2020-21 in transport infrastructure across Australia through our rolling infrastructure plan,” Mr Buchholz said.

Last month, the Australian and Victorian governments announced more than 100 targeted road safety projects in a $245 million road improvement blitz under the Road Safety Program.

“Never in Australia’s history have we spent more on transport infrastructure to bust congestion, better connect our regions, improve safety on our roads and meet our national freight challenge. A challenge those in this room rise to meet every single day and particularly during the pandemic,” Mr Buchholz said.

“From the Commonwealths perspective, this $245 million additional investment in Victorian roads includes $183 million of funding from the Morrison government,” Mr Buchholz said.

Mr Buchholz said the pandemic had placed great pressures on the industry and the Morrison Government was helping businesses bounce back from COVID through business-friendly taxation measures.

“The supercharged instant asset write-off, temporary full expensing and loss carry back offset. Not only are these measures business friendly, they are investment friendly and job friendly.

“It’s not just about getting business back to what they do best, moving goods and services, supporting our country and creating jobs – but also investing in a safer, higher tech fleet,” Mr Buchholz said.

Mr Buchholz said industry lead initiatives had been supported by the Australian government and he was excited for the future of the sector.

“I have seen firsthand the benefits of new technology that is rolling out, such as SeeingMachines telematics technology and JOST Australia’s Pneumatically Operated Sensor Fifth Wheel.

“Our government, through various initiatives and programs, will continue to make the necessary investments in infrastructure, technology and people to back in your businesses, jobs and industry,” Mr Buchholz said.

The theme of the conference is “What’s in front of the transport industry,” which Mr Buchholz said is fitting given the particular point in history we are living through.

“Recovery from the impact of the pandemic will take time – and there are many challenges which still lie ahead. However, the Morrison government has an economic recovery plan for Australia, and transport infrastructure is at the heart of that plan.”

“This conference provides the opportunity to discuss the issues facing the Victorian transport sector and how government, regulators and industry can work together to tackle them.” The VTA’s state conference runs from 21 to 23 March. It is being held at Silverwater Resort on Phillip Island. Key speakers include Victorian roads and road safety minister Ben Carroll, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, federal shadow assistant minister for road safety Glenn Sterle, Victorian shadow ports minister Roma Britnell and more.