THE trucking industry has slammed politicians for patting themselves on the back for allowing B-triple trucks in to region to provide drought relief, and said the announcement “wasn’t worth the paper it’s written on”.
Earlier this month, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson announced the NSW government and Gunnedah Shire Council had approved a short-term permit for B-triple access through Gunnedah to Tamworth.
But South Australian truckies, who have plenty of fodder to export to the drought-afflicted farmers in the region, say the restrictions are so severe, it’s not worth the trip.
The restrictions include a police escort through Gunnedah, only one trip a week per company and apply only to B-triples – many trucking companies are still operating with road trains.
Haylink owner Alister Turner called the announcement “absolutely useless”.
“The politicians are making out like this is the greatest thing to ever happen,” Mr Turner said.
“The reality is this is not going to help half of one per cent of the problem.”
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Mr Turner said farmers were begging for hay, and one trip a week was a drop in the ocean.
“I could do hundreds of loads a week and still not meet the demand,” he said.
“Meanwhile, we can go all over Australia, but in Gunnedah, we need a police escort.
“B-triples are a relatively new thing, none of us have had the time or capital to swap over.
“I’ve got some coming, but I won’t see them until September, which will be too late to help farmers through the long hard winter.”
The Leader contacted Mr Anderson for comment, but the Tamworth MP – who is also Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Rail – did not respond.
However, he was happy to talk about it in parliament on Tuesday, asking Roads and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey what the government was doing to support “drought-affected communities like Gunnedah and Tamworth”.
“I applaud Mr Anderson’s efforts as the driving force behind the move to allow B-triple trucks with a permit to make the journey east of Gunnedah,” Ms Pavey said
“It was through his advocacy for his community that we are getting bigger trucks on the Oxley to help bring in fodder as farmers fight one of the toughest dry times for years.”
In a press release, Mr Anderson said he “deeply concerned” about the families and businesses that are being affected by the drought.
“We need to make sure that those needing assistance have access to measures that can help them,” he said.
“Farmers have told us they need additional support and I will continue to fight to ensure they receive the assistance they need during this dry time.”
Mr Turner said if the politicians really wanted to help farmers, they would open the Gunnedah-Tamworth route without restrictions.