Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz MP and Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson were among the speakers on day one of the two-day VTA State Conference taking place from 21 – 23 March. The theme of the conference was ‘What’s in Front of the Transport Industry’.
Scott delivered the opening address at the 2021 conference, stating that the Morrison Government was committed to an increased focus on the sector to make it safer, more productive, and more profitable.
“In infrastructure, technology, safety and innovation, our Government is making the necessary investments to make your lives, your jobs, your workplaces safer and more productive,” Scott says.
Scott told the audience that from 2020-21, the Federal Government would invest $110 billion over 10 years in transport infrastructure across Australia as part of its rolling infrastructure plan.
Last month, the Australian and Victorian governments announced an additional $245 million in investment for Victorian roads, $183 million of which is to come from the Morrison Government under its Road Safety Program.
“Never in Australia’s history have we spent more on transport infrastructure to bust congestion, better connect our regions, improve safety on our roads and meet our national freight challenge. A challenge those in this room rise to meet every single day and particularly during the pandemic,” Scott says.
VTA CEO Peter Anderson underscored the importance of supply chain sovereignty for Australia if the country is to maintain its high standards of living in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing vaccination rollout.
“As an island nation and democracy that relies on imports for sustaining our quality of life, Australia relies on the certainty from supply chains,” Peter says. “We enjoy the status of having the 5th highest ranking in living standards in the world. But what can we do better? How do we maintain and improve upon what has been created?” he asks.
Peter observed that COVID-19 had challenged Australians to think about whether supply chains were flexible and productive enough to ensure optimal standards of living, growth, and resilience for the country.
Peter noted that fuel energy security and trade could be potential areas of concern going forward.
“If we do not source and refine our own fuel and depend solely on international suppliers how vulnerable is our standard of living if this supply is interrupted? Or if China represents approximately 18-20% of all imported goods that you will find in homes today, how would we resource these goods if there was an interruption with supply from China?” he asks.
While there has been uncertainty for everyone during the pandemic, Peter said, the uncertainty has been particularly acute for transport operators and workers working through restrictions, lockdowns, and border closures.
“The irony of COVID is that it’s probably done more to help consumers build awareness and appreciate supply chains than any other event in recent history,” he says. “When you’re confronted with supermarket shelves that have been emptied of toilet paper, canned goods, pasta, fresh meat and poultry, and you’re forced to order online because you’ve been restricted from travelling more than five kilometres from home for months and months on end, you start to think and question how goods get to market.”
Written by Edward Cranswick