In NSW parliament recently, NSW Nationals member and shadow regional transport and roads minister Sam Farraway has criticised the state government for its lack of action on procuring new buses.
The response comes after the NSW Nationals recently detailed the plight of NSW manufacturer Express Coach Builders, with the Macksville-based bodybuilder considering closing its doors due to a lack of bus orders.
Farraway levelled his speech at NSW domestic manufacturing and government procurement minister Courtney Houssos, calling on her to get the government moving and ordering new replacement school buses from local manufacturers.
“It’s totally disappointing and underwhelming from a government that talks a big game about domestic manufacturing,” Farraway said in parliament.
“Why haven’t transport ministers and Transport for NSW (TfNSW) ordered new school buses for our regional kids?”
Currently, Farraway says there are 97 school buses that need to be replaced across regional NSW, with no replacement orders yet to be ordered for a 2024 manufacturing pipeline.
Farraway says this is having a dire impact on local manufacturers like Express Coach Builders, who have had to reduce its workforce by 25 per cent from October last year.
“They don’t have any orders in the pipeline despite being a preferred contractor for school bus builds in this state and advancing its zero-emissions bus scheme,” Farraway says.
“The reality is there’s only a few domestic bus manufacturers in NSW, and to my knowledge their only orders recently have come from Victoria because that’s the only state that’s ordering buses.
“What we see here is a government that’s incompetent and not practicing what they preach.”
To fix this, Farraway wants to see the NSW government follow through on its domestic manufacturing stance by ordering buses from these local businesses.
“This is a huge indictment on this government and it needs to be taken seriously,” he says.
“I urge the minister for domestic manufacturing and government procurement to get involved, fix this issue and bring bus building back to what it should be in NSW.”