The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) have welcomed the appointment of new Nationals leader Michael McCormack to the Federal Transport portfolio.

The 53-year-old from Wagga Wagga in NSW won the support of his Nationals colleagues at a special party meeting held after incumbent Barnaby Joyce vacated the seat due to personal issues.

As National Party leader Mr McCormack is automatically elevated to the Deputy Prime Minister position.

He replaces Mr Joyce as the Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister – a position held by Mr Joyce since December last year.

ATA Chair, Geoff Crouch, says Mr McCormack will bring drive and determination to the portfolios.

“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.”

“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 ATSB, 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.”

NHVR Chair Bruce Baird said he looked forward to working with Mr McCormack to deliver ongoing reform to heavy vehicle safety and productivity.

“On behalf of the NHVR staff, our Chief Executive and Board, I congratulate Michael,” Mr Baird said.

“I look forward to working with the incoming Minister to deliver consistency across Australia’s borders, reduce red tape for heavy vehicle operators and boost road safety for all road users.

“In particular Michael has been a strong advocate for regional communities and I look forward to his leadership as a shareholding Minister of the NHVR.”