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Nationals appoint new Transport, Deputy Prime Minister

Barnaby Joyce has been replaced as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport by the new Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.
The new minister was sworn in on the morning of Monday 26 February after Joyce announced he would be stepping down from his position in the Cabinet.
McCormack declared his intention to run for the leadership of the National Party on Friday, 23 February, and was formally elected. National MP George Christensen contested the challenge, but said in a media statement later that he “looks forward to working with the new leader while representing the people of central and north Queensland.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement that he was delighted to welcome the appointment of McCormack as the new leader of the National Party.
Darren Chester, who until recently was Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, welcomed McCormack and thanked Joyce for his efforts.
“I welcome the election of Michael McCormack as leader of the Nationals,” said Chester. “His determination, professionalism and work ethic make him an ideal leader of our team.
“I want to acknowledge former leader Barnaby Joyce and recognise his many achievements as Deputy Prime Minister. Under his leadership, the Nationals delivered policies and projects that made a different in the lives of regional Australians.”
The road transport industry welcomed the appointment, including the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Geoff Crouch.
“Michael McCormack will bring great drive and determination to the infrastructure and transport portfolio,” said Crouch.
“I have known Michael for more than 20 years. He is a proven advocate for small business, and regional and remote Australia. I’m confident he’ll bring this drive and determination to supporting the road transport industry.”
Crouch said that Minister McCormack had demonstrated an understanding of the importance of the road transport industry, having said in Parliament [on 14 March, 2012]: “If it needs to be carried, carted, dumped, hauled, moved, shifted or transported, there is every likelihood a truck or trailer will be the most economical, fastest and most reliable way of getting it from point A to point B.”
Crouch said the appointment of Minister McCormack was an opportunity to focus the transport agenda on improving safety and boosting productivity.
“Trucking is critical to connecting Australians with goods and exports, as Michael McCormack knows well,” said Crouch.
“But road transport must be safe, and must keep Australian businesses competitive in global markets.
“The ATA looks forward to engaging with the Deputy Prime Minister on the need for independent and expert safety investigations of heavy vehicle accidents by the [Australian Transport Safety Bureau – ATSB – ed.] on implementing the new laws on Chain of Responsibility, and ensuring our fatigue laws and rest areas are focused on saving lives.
“We also need to enable economic opportunity by boosting productivity, improving road access, building better and safer roads and eliminating over-regulation,” he said.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said it is pleased that McCormack will also assume the role of Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
“It is pleasing that the second most senior figure in the Government will retain portfolio responsibility for this crucial area, given the importance of developing transport infrastructure to support national supply chain efficiency and build Australia’s export capacity,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff.
“As an industry leader on freight and supply chain policy, ALC always seeks to have a cooperative and productive relationship with the key ministers in portfolio areas that impact our industry,” he said.
Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson also welcomed the appointment. “The Victorian Transport Association wishes to congratulate Michael McCormack on his election as Leader of the Nationals, and his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport,” said Anderson. “We have worked closely with his predecessors in these vital portfolio areas, and we look forward to working with the Minister and his team to develop policies and solutions that improve conditions for freight and logistics operators throughout Australia.”

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