Australia’s associations and industry have welcomed the major support for Australian infrastructure in the 2017–18 Federal Budget.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) commended the Government’s $8.4 billion support of Inland Rail, commitments to construct the Western Sydney Airport and duplicate the Port Botany freight rail line and support of Infrastructure Australia.
“The Budget’s strong focus on infrastructure is timely, coming less than six months after the Federal Government agreed to ALC’s request to develop a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC. “We welcome the measures announced tonight as a positive first step in continuing efforts to deliver a safer, more efficient supply chain.”
Aurizon Managing Director and CEO Andrew Harding reported that he was pleased to see the Government commit to investing in freight rail infrastructure, adding that he believes Governments – at both the federal and state level – have key roles to play in implementing sound policy and regulatory frameworks to support a competitive rail industry.
“To improve the competitiveness of rail freight, the Inland Rail project and linked supply chains will need more than the correct design and construction, they will require major transport policy reform,” Harding said.
“Rail freight companies need to be able to compete on equal footing with other transport modes and allow rail to do more of the heavy-lifting in Australia’s freight transport task.”
Rail freight operator Pacific National and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) also spoke out in support of the Budget.
“More than thirty years since the ambitious rail link was first suggested, the 1,700km rail line is now well on track to become a reality following the $8.4 billion commitment in last night’s Federal Budget,” Pacific National said in a statement.
“Pacific National believes the Inland Rail project will be transformative for Australia, helping revitalise regional communities and providing a boost in national productivity that will deliver for generations to come.”
Danny Broad, CEO of the ARA, said, “Linking Victoria and regional NSW with Queensland will help get freight off the road and onto rail, address rising congestion in Sydney and will deliver thousands of jobs, many in regional Australia.”
Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson welcomed the Inland Rail investment and other long-term infrastructure commitments.
“The $500 million allocated for Victorian regional rail is also welcome because it will give rural commuters additional travel options to consider, which is good for road freight because it will alleviate congestion on rural road networks,” said Anderson.
“We are also encouraged that the Budget considers a variety of perspectives that are integral to the freight task, other than infrastructure. For example investments earmarked to continue Black Spot, Roads to Recovery and other vital programs are critical for encouraging better driver safety, which is welcome news for operator and road safety in general.”
The Maritime Union of Australia
(MUA) stated that it felt some of the money earmarked for the $8.4 billion Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail project could be better spent on investment in Australia’s coastal shipping sector.
“Port infrastructure already exists in Australia and coastal shipping leaves the lowest carbon footprint when it comes to moving goods around our coast,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.
“This package from the Government looks a lot like pork-barrelling by the Coalition to protect their inland seats through regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland as they desperately try to stave off the threat from One Nation and other parties.”