IMPROVED driver safety and access to farm gates were key messages from the combined conference of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) and the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA) in Coffs Harbour.
ALRTA executive director Mathew Munro was encouraged by the industry support from government representatives, the NSW Minister for Transport Melinda Pavey, the Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and the Federal Senator for NSW John Williams, particularly around the area of technology.
But he said there were also lingering issues that have been talked about for many years that are still to be resolved, namely flexibility in the fatigue system, and ensuring trucks can get to farmers a lot quicker than they currently are.
"The access system is still taking too long," Mr Munro said.
"The current system generally takes more than a day or two - it can take up to 28 days - but on average it will be more like 7-14, and in 2018 that's just not fast enough to move things in the agriculture supply chain."
With often multi-layered governance in play, however, there appears to be no easy solutions.
Other policy sessions touched on issues as diverse as chain of responsibility, EWDs, charging, road infrastructure, training, vehicle dimensions, loading schemes and IAP.
"We also kicked off the development of an industry code of practice for effluent management during a special workshop session that involved our entire audience and undertook a survey on attitudes towards user-pay infrastructure."
Other highlights over a busy weekend included the induction of ALRTA life members Gordon Martin and Robert Cavanagh, and recognition of the work of safety statistician Owen Driscoll who received the coveted McIver Award for outstanding contribution to the industry.
The LBRCA also awarded Michael Carmichael the Young Driver of the Year prize, which included an overseas trip.