rail freight priority container being lifted by forklift

Freight groups put forward election priorities

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:

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.

National supply chains must be key election focus

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed confirmation that the federal election will be held on 18 May.
The election announcement coincided with the inaugural meeting of ALC’s Northern Australia Working Group, which took place in Darwin.
“It is fitting that the election announcement has come on the same day that ALC’s newly-formed Northern Australia Working Group meets for the first time, because so much activity in this region underpins Australia’s economic performance,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“Our Working Group brings together freight logistics companies, infrastructure owners, local and state government representatives and other key industry organisations to advocate more effectively for investment in Northern Australia’s freight infrastructure, and work with policy makers to get regulatory settings right.”
“ALC has formed this Working Group because we recognise that Australia’s ability to take full advantage of free trade agreements recently signed with rapidly growing Asian markets rests on our ability to get our export products to market, efficiently and safely.”
“It is vital to make certain that Northern Australia has the road, rail, port and air freight infrastructure necessary to get products demanded by our trading partners to their destination as quickly as possible. This is particularly important when it comes to agricultural goods and other consumables, where freshness is highly prized by overseas customers.”
“Enhanced supply chain performance in Northern Australia is important for the entire nation, because freight does not stop at state borders. A key focus for the next Parliament must be to ensure greater national consistency in our approach to the movement of freight.”
“In the coming days, ALC will be releasing a comprehensive statement of the freight logistics industry’s policy priorities for next Parliament.”
“Chief among these will be to build on the bipartisan commitment to finalise the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, and work with state and territory governments to ensure its effective implementation,  so that Australians can share in the benefits that come from improved supply chain performance – wherever they live,” Mr Coningham said.
 

Sea electric IKEA electric truck

Labor EV policy good for freight: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) believes the Federal Opposition’s commitment to work with industry on the development of cleaner transport modes must include a focus on the clear enthusiasm of many in the freight logistics sector to deliver improved environmental outcomes.
“This industry has been among the most enthusiastic proponents of the potential of electric vehicles (EV) to improve our environment, whilst also providing operational and cost advantages for freight logistics businesses,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“The policy announced by the Federal Opposition contains a number of measures that can help make that potential a reality, provided that governments work closely with industry in helping deliver the right reforms.
“ALC is particularly encouraged by Labor’s plan to boost EV charging capacity in the national road network. Overcoming ‘range anxiety’ is an essential part of delivering swifter EV uptake by freight logistics operators, and the commitment to work with COAG to promote national consistency in charging infrastructure is most welcome.
“We also welcome the aspects of the policy designed to encourage investment in EV technology, especially the commitment to allow businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent off any new EV valued at more than $20,000, and the intention to use the Australian Investment Guarantee to incentivise the upgrade of heavy vehicles to incorporate modern technology that can help reduce emissions.
“The commitment to develop a Low Emission Transport Strategy is a responsible one, and will help ensure that all modes of transport are making a contribution to emissions reduction. Industry must be a key partner in the development of that strategy.
“ALC further notes the Opposition’s commitment to introduce vehicle emissions standards, in line with those that currently operate in the United States. This is a significant proposal – and one that must be worked though carefully with industry if it is to succeed.
“Industry is willing to play its part in delivering better environmental outcomes for the community, and ALC would look to work with any future Labor government to ensure that such standards are introduced in an equitable fashion that does not impose an unsustainable financial burden on freight logistics operators.”

Infrastructure Priority List welcomed by the freight sector

The Infrastructure Priority List recently released by Infrastructure Australia (IA) has won widespread approval in the freight sector, including the Australian Logistics Council, Australasian Railways Association and the Australian Trucking Association.
ALC: The priority list highlights freight infrastructure opportunities
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said the Infrastructure Priority List released by Infrastructure Australia (IA) highlights continued need for targeted investment in freight infrastructure projects that will enhance supply chain efficiency and safety, and make Australia more internationally competitive.
“It is essential that Australia makes infrastructure investment decisions that are based on sound principles and evidence-based assessments regarding a project’s capacity to contribute to our economic strength, and liveability of our communities,” said ALC chairman Philip Davies.
“In the past, the Infrastructure Priority List has helped to build support for investment in critical freight infrastructure projects which are now being undertaken, including Western Sydney Airport, Inland Rail, the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and more recently the Port Botany freight rail duplication, which was supported in the 2018 Federal Budget.”
“It is especially pleasing to note this year’s list again includes the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy as a high priority initiative.”
“To further boost the effectiveness of that Strategy when it is released later this year, ALC urges governments to prioritise investment in key freight-related initiatives IA has included in this year’s list, including:

  • Upgrading Chullora Junction to enhance Sydney’s freight rail network;
  • Constructing the North East Link in Melbourne to alleviate traffic congestion and enhance freight efficiency;
  • Pursuing a dedicated freight rail connection from Inland Rail to the Port of Brisbane;
  • Enhancing capacity and traffic flows on the Mitchell and Kwinana Freeways in Perth;
  • Completing the upgrade of the Adelaide North-South road corridor to enhance capacity and efficiency of freight movement to the airport and port precincts;
  • Investing in road and rail improvements on the Burnie to Hobart freight corridor;
  • Implementation of the Advanced Train Management System on the ARTC network; and
  • Establishing a national electric vehicle fast-charging network to overcome ‘range anxiety’ among freight logistics operators.

“Australia must do everything possible to eliminate capacity constraints in our freight networks if we wish to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market. Securing investment in these priority projects will help to deliver that outcome.”
ARA backs IA’s strong rail focus in Infrastructure Priority List
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has also welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) 2019 Infrastructure Priority List.
“IA plays an important role in identifying key infrastructure problems and opportunities to ensure investment is appropriately targeted to areas of greatest need,” said ARA CEO Danny Broad.
“The rail projects included in IA’s 2019 Infrastructure Priority List are important nation-building initiatives and are endorsed by the rail sector,” he continued.
“Pleasingly, there are more rail projects and initiatives in the report compared to the 2018 Infrastructure Priority List, with 54 of the 125 projects and initiatives rail-related.
“As Australia’s population grows, rail infrastructure will increasingly become the backbone to meet Australia’s growing passenger and freight needs. To manage the challenges posed in our cities and regions in the long-term, Australia will need to ensure that it continuously invests in rail infrastructure.
“We know that rail is an efficient, environmentally and socially beneficial mode of transport. We also know that rail has lower emissions than road transport, is safer and can help reduce congestion in our cities.
“The significance of these rail projects identified by IA warrants investment from governments at all levels. Our networks of infrastructure and services connect people and communities, support freight transport across the country, help deliver our resources to overseas markets and continue to generate economic growth and employment,” he said.
ATA welcomes updated Infrastructure Priority List
Infrastructure Australia’s updated Infrastructure Priority List illustrates the importance of evidence-based investment decisions, chairman of the Australian Trucking Association Geoff Crouch said.
“The Infrastructure Priority List provides critical focus on the need to invest in safer regional roads and fixing urban congestion,” Mr Crouch said.
“The new project calling for regional road network safety improvements to invest in fixing high-risk sections of regional roads and deliver safer road infrastructure is a critical priority.
“Infrastructure Australia reports that relative to population size, the number of fatalities in regional areas is over four times higher than for major cities.
“This project now requires government support across Australia, and the ATA strongly welcomes the inclusion of a similar new project by the NSW Government to make regional road safety improvements in NSW.
“Governments should also support the call for a roads network optimisation program to address urban congestion.
“First added to the priority list in 2016 but still without a government proponent, Infrastructure Australia has again reconfirmed the need for governments to make multiple, co-ordinated, productivity enhancements to the road network to reduce congestion.
“These investments should be based on data and seek to optimise traffic flows through investments such as intersection treatments, traffic light sequencing, clearways and incident management.”
The ATA also welcomes the continued inclusion and expansion of projects to address major road investment priorities.
“There’s a long list of proposed road, highway and motorway projects which would make a significant investment to improving safety, connectivity and productivity on the road network,” Mr Crouch said.
Future updates to the Infrastructure Priority List should expand the network-based focus on improving roads to include regional and outback highways and corridors.
“The need to make better use and enable more productive connectivity extends beyond our major cities and their rural hinterlands, and Infrastructure Australia should include network optimisation and access for investing in better regional and outback highways in future priority list updates,” Mr Crouch said.
 

Budget must focus on freight: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has released its 2019-20 Federal Budget submission, saying this year’s Budget must establish the right framework to support the implementation of an effective National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“The Federal Budget in April will be the last one delivered prior to the release of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“The ALC has been a long-term advocate for this strategy. Our members understand that a national economy needs to adopt a consistent national approach to freight movement.
“However, the best Strategy in the world counts for little if there are insufficient resources in place to support its delivery.
“Accordingly, ALC’s submission encourages the Federal Government to use this year’s Budget to establish the right frameworks to support the delivery of a Strategy that will meet the needs of our industry and the Australian economy as a whole.
“To help achieve this, ALC makes 19 recommendations addressing two core objectives – ensuring those responsible for implementing the strategy have adequate resources, and supporting specific infrastructure, safety and regulatory initiatives that will improve the performance of our supply chains.
“These include recommendations to support key Federal agencies, as well as state and local governments, in delivering significant reforms around planning, corridor protection, road pricing and data collection that will allow us to better monitor performance and more effectively target infrastructure investment.
“Additionally, there are specific recommendations to support crucial infrastructure and regulatory initiatives, such as better freight rail linkages to ports, infrastructure to hasten uptake of electric vehicles in the freight sector, maintenance of the industry Master Code for heavy vehicle safety, and development of a National Rail Plan that will finally deliver the regulatory consistency the industry seeks.
“Implementing these recommendations as part of the 2019-20 Federal Budget will significantly improve the efficiency and safety of Australia’s supply chains, and contribute to the delivery of a more effective National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy,” Mr Coningham said.
 

Electric trucks are the way to go: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) is disappointed that the final report of the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles has missed clear opportunities to boost the uptake of EV in the freight logistics sector.
“There is clearly a willingness within this industry to move towards greater use of EV in freight delivery. It is disappointing that the committee has not supported that positive attitude by explicitly addressing freight vehicles in its recommendations to the government,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“It is especially perplexing that the committee recommends establishing national EV targets for light passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles and metropolitan buses – but is silent on establishing a similar target for heavy vehicles.
“It is similarly disappointing that the report did not take the opportunity to recommend a review of the Australian Design Rules, to that they can better accommodate the unique size and shape of some electric freight vehicles.
“ALC is pleased that the report does make recommendations on some of the issues raised in our submission, including the need to facilitate the rollout of charging infrastructure and ensure the energy network is able to sustain a reliable supply of energy to power EV.
“However on the whole, these recommendations fall well short of the type of action that is needed to hasten the uptake of EV in the freight logistics sector.
“One opportunity that was clearly missed was a recommendation to establish a Low Emission Vehicle Contestable Fund, similar to one already operating in New Zealand.
“Indeed, the report specifically refers to the New Zealand fund in its commentary and notes its benefits – but does not follow through by recommending a similar initiative for Australia.
“Just last week, the New Zealand Government announced a further round of projects to be supported though its fund, including projects specifically focused on the freight sector designed to showcase the capabilities of long-haul heavy electric vehicles.
“Similar initiatives will need to be adopted in an Australian context if freight logistics operators are to be encouraged to incorporate EVs into their own operations. This is something ALC will be pursing in its pre-Budget submission and in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government.
“The ALC’s Electric Vehicles Working Group will continue to pursue these matters with all political parties in the lead up to this year’s federal election,” Mr Coningham said.

Cities report recommends elevating freight in planning

Will the North West Rail link carry freight? Photo courtesy of Transport for NSW.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) says the report of the inquiry into the Australian Government’s role in the development of cities is an endorsement of its continuing efforts to have freight movement prioritised in the nation’s planning regimes.
“ALC particularly welcomes the inquiry’s recommendation that planning at all levels include freight access as a matter of priority,” said ALC chairman Philip Davies.
“Making sure that our planning regimes properly account for freight movement has been a long-standing policy objective for ALC.
“This includes ensuring a nationally consistent approach to corridor protection, and promoting land use planning that allows freight infrastructure to have the 24/7 operational flexibility it needs to meet a growing freight task.
“Many of the recommendations contained in the inquiry report can help to achieve these objectives, and promote safer and more efficient movement of freight through our supply chains.
“ALC also welcomes the inquiry’s recognition of the need for a national plan of settlement, so that our growing population is managed in a way that ensures our major cities remain functional and desirable places for Australians to live and work.
“Such an approach will be essential to address issues that are already having an effect on the safety and efficiency of our supply chains, particularly road congestion.
“We are pleased that the inquiry’s report has noted so many of the issues around planning and freight movement that were reflected in ALC’s own submission to the Inquiry, especially around the benefits of separating freight and passenger transport infrastructure.
“The release of this report is timely, coming as the Commonwealth Government continues working with other jurisdictions on the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“ALC encourages governments at all levels to give freight movement the priority it deserves in planning by incorporating these recommendations into their planning regimes.”
 

ALC launches Electric Vehicles Working Group

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has formed an Electric Vehicles Working Group to consider the full impact that this rapidly-evolving transport will have on the movement of freight in the years ahead.
The working group’s initial membership will include representatives from Linfox, Woolworths, DHL Australia, Australia Post and a number of other ALC member companies.
“It is important to recognise that electric vehicles will have an enormous bearing on the future shape of Australia’s freight logistics industry,” said ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff.
“This makes it vital for policy-makers to focus on ensuring Australia has the right infrastructure and regulatory framework in place to permit the heavy vehicles of the future to continue delivering our mail, groceries, medicines, business supplies and online purchases every day.
“The formation of this Electric Vehicles Working Group is part of ALC’s commitment as an industry leader to ensure the continuing efficiency and safety of this industry, as Australia begins the shift from internal combustion engines to newer technologies.
“A recent study completed by Energia on behalf of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation anticipates that by 2030, up to 50% of new cars sold will be electric vehicles.
“There is every reason to believe that similar changes will also occur in the heavy vehicle industry – and we need to be preparing for that change now,” Mr Kilgariff said.
“The ALC Electric Vehicles Working Group will promote the financial, social and environmental benefits of electric vehicles to industry and governments.
“The Working Group will also be charged with developing policies that promote greater manufacture and uptake of electric heavy vehicles in Australia, in the interests of greater national supply chain efficiency and safety,” he concluded.
 

Biosecurity Levy: $360m ‘cash grab’

The Australian Logistics Council, Australasian Railway Association, Ports Australia and Shipping Australia have joined together to call for clarification of how the Biosecurity Levy, announced by the Australian Government in the Federal Budget, will operate. Particularly how the generated revenue will be spent.
The proposed Biosecurity Import Levy will charge $10.02 per incoming container and $1 per tonne of non-containerised cargo, generating an estimated revenue of $360 million.
Ports Australia chief executive Mike Gallacher said: “Our concern is that this import levy has been announced with almost no engagement with the supply chain and with no plan on how it will be used in the biosecurity system.
“The complete lack of detail on this ambiguous proposal lends weight to the impression that it is a broad import levy across all goods coming into the country.
“The revenue measure estimates $360 million over three years. Only $76.6 million of this is will be spent enhancing Australia’s biosecurity system over the same period.
“That leaves $283.4 million unaccounted for.
“The Port sector has stringent biosecurity measures and will always continue to leverage our expert capabilities to meet the Australian Government’s objectives on biosecurity.
“Australians use and interact with the supply chain every day, from food to cars furniture to building materials it is essential for day to day life. Yet there has been virtually no engagement on this plan for a blanket charge on imported goods moving through the supply chain.”
The shipping industry’s peak body Shipping Australia Limited chief executive Rod Nairn said: “A budget that at its core promises tax cuts for all Australians will simultaneously slug Australians almost $290 million to import the goods they use every day, with no clear explanation of the biosecurity benefit.
“If $360 million is needed to protect Australia’s unique environmental assets than there should be a plan detailing precisely what the money is paying for and how the government arrived at the figure.
“This is another example where one sector of the supply chain is being forced to fund something that is not directly related. As things stand, this levy measure currently has no clarity, no plan and no purpose.”
Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff said: “Measures in the Budget are expected to be accurately costed. There should be no exception for this one.
“Until such details are made clear, a broad charge on every item imported from another country simply cannot be justified. The freight logistics sector should not be used as a ‘cash cow’ to fund unrelated Budget initiatives.
“Not only will everyday consumers be impacted by this measure on containerised goods, but anyone importing non-container goods will pay $1 a tonne.
“That means a construction business importing 50,000 tonnes of concrete will now have to pay an additional $50,000. Imagine the impact such a measure will have on infrastructure costs.”
Australasian Railway Association chief executive Danny Broad said: “The proposed levy is a significant issue for ARA members and everyday Australians. The levy will ripple right through the supply chain and hit the end consumer. Every product that comes through our ports, onto our rail networks and delivered to the consumers will feel the effects of this levy.
“Industry is committed to continue working with the Government cooperatively to enhance biosecurity.
“However, urgent clarification and rationale is needed on the details of this new levy, which is being imposed with almost no consultation with those it will affect the most.”
Road transporters fear they’ll be the collecting agency, again
Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has described the new Biosecurity Levy on cargo as a re-run of the crippling port surcharges already imposed on truck operators.
RFNSW today joined supply chain stakeholders in calling for further details from the Federal Government on the justification for the new levy.
“From our perspective, it’s a re-run of the port infrastructure surcharges which have been slapped on truck operators with no consultation, no explanation and certainly no justification. Nothing more than a blatant cash grab,” RFNSW’s chief executive officer Simon O’Hara said.
“Of the $360 million raised through the Biosecurity Levy, it’s estimated that only $76.6 million is actually being spent on biosecurity – that’s why it’s only fair and reasonable that our industry stakeholders are calling on the Government to explain where the rest of the money will be used.
“Undoubtedly, such a blanket surcharge, like the port infrastructure taxes imposed on truckies, will simply be added to goods all through the supply chain.
“Everyone in the freight logistics sector will be hit, and hurt, by this new tax.
“Our members, who are already struggling to operate on increasingly tight margins as a result of the port taxes imposed by stevedores, are going to be impacted. And ultimately, so will Australian consumers who will be paying more for their imported goods.
“RFNSW joins the Australian Logistics Council, Australasian Railway Association, Ports Australia and Shipping Australia in raising our concerns about this new import tax and calling on the government to give us a ‘please explain’.”
 

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