HVIA praises skills investment in Labor’s first full-year Budget

The Labor Government’s first full-year Budget presents opportunities for the heavy vehicle industry, however, “leaves us wanting” in other areas according to Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia.

HVIA Chief Executive Todd Hacking said the demand for heavy vehicles has been remarkably resilient, however, between inflation, supply chain issues and the lack of available skilled workers, our manufacturers have struggled to meet demand.

“Bringing the Budget back to surplus is great, but there are ongoing challenges with inflation still a pressing concern in terms of denting business confidence,” Mr Hacking said.

Mr Hacking said announcements around skilled migration quotas is vital to replenish and grow dwindling stocks of tradespeople.

“We welcome an increased focus on skilled migration in the Permanent Migration program, which HVIA called for in the last election; this is a key promise being delivered by the Albanese Government.

“Other positive announcements include investment and programs encouraging women to take up trades, plus plans to expand the number of fee-free TAFE and Vocational Education training packages.” 

Mr Hacking said a pipeline of new tradespeople needs to be built and maintained from multiple angles.

“HVIA and our members are proactive in promoting career paths in the heavy vehicle industry to school students.

“In fact, we will be hosting close to 2,000 students from around fifty schools to the Brisbane Truck Show next week.

“They will watch the country’s best young automotive technicians compete in the HVIA National Apprentice Challenge, and hear from careers ambassadors who will talk to them about the diverse and rewarding career paths our industry offers.

“On top of that, however, we need to bring in tradespeople from overseas. Australia’s population is growing, our freight task is growing and with that, demand is growing.

“Investment in skilled migration is an investment in Australia’s economic wellbeing, and in securing our manufacturing sovereignty, which the Labor Government has highlighted as one of its foundation policies.”

Investment lacking to support net-zero commitments

The Government will provide $20.9 million over 5 years from 2022–23 for initiatives to decarbonise the transport and infrastructure sectors and support achieving our net zero by 2050 target. Funding includes:

  • $7.8 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to develop a Transport and Infrastructure Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan to support the decarbonisation of the transport and infrastructure sectors
  • $7.4 million over 4 years from 2023–24 to develop Fuel Efficiency Standards to encourage light vehicle manufacturers to increase the supply of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles in the Australian market

Last week HVIA joined with other industry organisations to advocate for a comprehensive, clear, fully funded transition plan to assist the industry in the coming years.

The Australian trucking industry faces significant barriers to the adoption of zero-emission trucks, including vehicle design rules, lack of electric truck recharging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and a temporary but significantly higher upfront cost.

The collaborative statement said the Australian Government should:

  • Develop a national zero-emission truck strategy
  • Sign the global memorandum of understanding on zero-emission trucks, to set clear climate ambition for medium and heavy vehicles
  • Fix the regulatory barriers (i.e. width and axle mass limits) to zero-emission trucks, to increase vehicle model supply
  • Increase investment in electric recharging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for trucks
  • Implement a purchase price incentive for zero-emission trucks
  • Fund and implement an upskilling and reskilling plan to ensure the preparedness of the workforce to transition to a zero-emission fleet.

This budget does not adequately address this call to action and HVIA will continue to advocate strongly to ensure the available investment supports the industry transition.

“The industry is doing its part; you only need to come to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show to see the largest showcase of zero-emissions commercial vehicles in one place in the Southern Hemisphere from Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 May, but government needs to match this enthusiasm with serious investment,” Mr Hacking said.

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