The answer to heavy vehicle accidents: shipping

Ports Australia chief executive officer Mike Gallacher said the quickest, simplest and cheapest way to improve the safety of our roads is to move unnecessary freight off the roads.
“Australia is an island nation with ports up and down the coastline connecting every major town and city to each other via the blue highway.
“Our ports are there, they are connected and they are open for business, and we need the government to see that and start using this country’s freight network effectively.
“Shipping is by far the most economical and environmentally sound way of moving freight. We have to start removing unnecessary truck movements off the roads that we all use and not rely simply on extra regulation and new technology.”
“The government is developing a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and if we are serious about improving safety on our roads and functioning better as a country, then shipping has to be a central pillar.
“Better utilisation of ports around the country will not only result in a positive safety outcome for country and regional roads it will also create job opportunities, particularly in regional communities.
“We need a strategy that reflects the flexibility of roads, the connectivity of rail and the capacity of our ports,” Mike Gallacher said.

New vessel heralds the age of coastal shipping

The largest New Zealand-operated ship in many decades will be launched this month, signalling a vital expansion of domestic sea freight capacity. 

Pacifica Shipping will launch a new 700 TEU container ship, Spirit of Endurance, to carry high volumes of container cargo in domestic waters.

“This is a real step forward for the country’s shipping industry, which has had more than its share of setbacks over the past 15 years,” the company’s chief executive Rod Grout said.

The 130-metre ship will move around 1,000 containers each week between the ports of Auckland, Tauranga, Canterbury and Otago, handling domestic goods as well as import and export cargo.

Mr Grout said the vessel was well suited to the government’s ‘Sea Change’ initiative of moving 30 per cent of all freight by coastal ships by 2030.

“Moving goods by sea is the safest, cleanest and most efficient transport mode, a fact only lately acknowledged and acted on by policy planners.

“Its advantages are fuel efficiency, low carbon emissions and cost reductions for business efficiency,” he said.

According to Mr Grout, sea freight currently accounted for 15 per cent of total goods carried in New Zealand, about half of this on an ad-hoc basis by in-transit overseas ships, while Japan moves 41 per cent of its domestic freight by coastal ships.

“We have a lot to aspire to in terms of growth potential…but it will require more vessels linking our producer and consumer centres directly and not overly relying on Cook Strait for inter-island freight,” he said.

Nearly 2.5 million tonnes of domestic freight cross Cook Strait on trucks each year, with just one million tonnes moved on coastal ships.

He said this skewed transportation was untenable considering the mounting environmental damage, economic consequences and negative impacts on roads and communities.

He also called for hub-and-spoke cargo feeder networks around the coast to meet the trend of overseas ships getting bigger and visiting fewer ports less often.

“Our new vessel is equipped to meet this trend, as it uses existing port container cranes to load and unload all types of containers.

“Provided its service is not constrained by further subsidies to prop up competing land transport modes, we believe it will be the forerunner of more coastal vessels to come,” Mr Grout said.

The vessel, built in China this year, has a 17-knots service speed and a gross tonnage of 7,464 tonnes.

Carbon trading sparks war between modes

Conflict between rail and road groups continues over the government’s emissions trading handouts.

Thirty representatives from Australia’s transport groups have met with Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong at a forum to discuss how best to curb climate change.

While rail groups argued rail is an environmentally friendly transport mode that deserves a bigger boost, the trucking sector called for more protection for their businesses and consumers under the emissions trading scheme.  

Chief executive of the Australasian Railway Association Bryan Nye said the impending scheme favoured road transport by recommending an immediate cost offset for road use, but completely disregarded rail and its environmental benefits.

“It’s giving concessions to the trucking industry,” Mr Nye told AAP. “That defeats the whole reason for having a greenhouse program. Why not give a climate change credit to encourage people to use cleaner and greener forms of transport such as coastal shipping and rail?”

The green paper has recommended fuel for heavy vehicles to be exempt from price rises under the scheme until 2011, with petrol to be exempt until 2013.

While trucking groups wanted the fuel exemption to be extended, Mr Nye said he opposed to the move.

He has previously been quoted as saying: “It is bizarre that someone catching a train to work will have to pay more under the scheme, while car users causing pollution, congestion and health impacts will be compensated.”

The shipping and aviation sectors were also worried that the scheme could give their international rivals a competitive edge as it would force up domestic fuel and ticket prices whilst international players remain unaffected.

Senator Wong said Australia had no option but to cut its emissions, and there was no easy answer.

“We’ve said in terms of the carbon pollution reduction scheme, we’re willing to talk to business about the best way to design it,” she said.

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