The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) have released their priorities for Australia’s freight logistics industry ahead of the federal election.
Australian Logistics Council
Freight: Delivering Opportunity For Australia identifies 39 priority actions for the incoming Federal Government to pursue that address challenges and opportunities relevant to all modes of freight transport.
“The priorities ALC is releasing have been identified by industry participants as critical to improving the efficiency and safety of Australia’s supply chains, and meeting a growing freight task,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“With our industry having received a bipartisan commitment to finalise the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the first priority for whichever party wins on 18 May must be to work with state and territory governments to finalise and implement action plans that will ensure the strategy delivers for industry.
“In that context, the priorities ALC is now putting forward will help to bolster the effectiveness of that strategy by addressing some of the long-term infrastructure, investment and regulatory issues that act as an impediment to a seamless national freight network.
“Enhanced supply chain performance is not a niche issue. Every individual Australian relies on freight every day, no matter where they live. If we are going to meet the challenges that arise from a growing population and changing consumer expectations around rapid delivery, it will be necessary to implement the sorts of reforms ALC has set out.
“The priorities that ALC has identified touch on a range of issues, including a more consistent national approach to planning and investing in freight infrastructure, enhancing the productivity of our road and rail networks through regulatory reform and strengthening our export performance through enhanced freight infrastructure in Northern Australia.
“There are also suggestions for improving the industry’s environmental performance by encouraging uptake of electric freight vehicles, ensuring the industry is able to access data that will allow more effective monitoring and measurement of supply chain performance, improving the wider community’s understanding of this industry and enhancing its ability to interact safely with freight vehicles.
“While many of these reforms will be challenging, they are absolutely essential to securing Australia’s continued economic success and creating more liveable communities.
“Although this reform agenda must be led by whichever party forms government, success will ultimately depend on cooperation and collaboration with all members of the 46th Parliament. It is important that all parliamentarians recognise that responsibility, whatever their political stripe.
“To that end, ALC will seek to work closely with all political parties in the next Parliament to secure these policy reforms, and implement a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy that allows this industry to keep delivering for all Australians.”
Australasian Railway Association
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has also released its priorities policy development paper for the 2019 federal election.
Titled Rail: Creating Vibrant Cities, Thriving Regions and a Connected Nation, the paper sets out key transport infrastructure challenges facing the Australian government and offers practical, affordable and achievable policy solutions where rail can play a key role.
“As our cities continue to grow and our freight task increases the pressure on our existing infrastructure network also increases,” said ARA CEO Danny Broad.
“Avoiding and reducing congestion is one of the biggest benefits that can be achieved by moving passengers and freight onto properly planned and funded rail solutions, integrated with other transport modes.”
The ARA’s five priorities are:
- Making cities liveable: the Australian government must continue to increase funding of urban passenger and freight rail projects which are essential to reduce road congestion, improve quality of life and increase productivity.
“With increasing support from both main political parties for passenger and freight rail projects, we look forward to this continuing and urge against stop start approaches to rail infrastructure funding.”
- Connecting our regions: the Australian government must plan and resource inter-regional fast rail projects and east coast high speed rail through a national planning agency.
“Pleasingly, both major political parties now support the establishment of a national planning agency to underpin their respective visions for inter-city rail connectivity, examine funding options and acquire the sought-after corridors.”
- Supporting employment: Skilled labour shortages threaten the delivery and cost effectiveness of new and existing rail infrastructure projects. The Australian government needs to lead the response to critical rail skills shortages by formalising a high level taskforce to lead reforms, build partnerships and implement expert recommendations to deliver fit-for-purpose education and training.
“If we are to reap the benefits of rail, industry and government need to make the necessary reforms together and increase investment in fit-for-purpose education and training.”
- Strengthening our economy: We need safer, more sustainable and efficient ways to move freight by rail. The Australian government needs to implement the national freight and supply chain strategy and incentivise jurisdictions to support its delivery. The ARA urges continued funding and political support of the Inland Rail project to ensure its timely delivery.
“The government also needs to level the playing field between road and rail. We need independent price regulation of heavy vehicles and mode neutral policies. Freight rail operators, charged at full market rates to access infrastructure have endeavoured to compete with heavy vehicles that access publicly subsidised roads.”
- National coordination to support industry: Rail contributes $26 billion to the national economy, while employing thousands of Australians in many small to medium size enterprises. However, its efforts are dissipated by fragmented approaches to investment, procurement, construction and regulation across eight different jurisdictions.
“Strong industries don’t develop by chance. The Australian government must lead the development of a national rail industry plan to achieve a coherent national approach to rail, covering procurement, local content, manufacturing, innovation and research, and harmonisation of standards.”
“We look forward to working with government to realise the full national benefits of these rail policies,” Mr Broad concluded.