Nationals appoint new Transport, Deputy Prime Minister

Barnaby Joyce has been replaced as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport by the new Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.
The new minister was sworn in on the morning of Monday 26 February after Joyce announced he would be stepping down from his position in the Cabinet.
McCormack declared his intention to run for the leadership of the National Party on Friday, 23 February, and was formally elected. National MP George Christensen contested the challenge, but said in a media statement later that he “looks forward to working with the new leader while representing the people of central and north Queensland.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement that he was delighted to welcome the appointment of McCormack as the new leader of the National Party.
Darren Chester, who until recently was Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, welcomed McCormack and thanked Joyce for his efforts.
“I welcome the election of Michael McCormack as leader of the Nationals,” said Chester. “His determination, professionalism and work ethic make him an ideal leader of our team.
“I want to acknowledge former leader Barnaby Joyce and recognise his many achievements as Deputy Prime Minister. Under his leadership, the Nationals delivered policies and projects that made a different in the lives of regional Australians.”
The road transport industry welcomed the appointment, including the Chair of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Geoff Crouch.
“Michael McCormack will bring great drive and determination to the infrastructure and transport portfolio,” said Crouch.
“I have known Michael for more than 20 years. He is a proven advocate for small business, and regional and remote Australia. I’m confident he’ll bring this drive and determination to supporting the road transport industry.”
Crouch said that Minister McCormack had demonstrated an understanding of the importance of the road transport industry, having said in Parliament [on 14 March, 2012]: “If it needs to be carried, carted, dumped, hauled, moved, shifted or transported, there is every likelihood a truck or trailer will be the most economical, fastest and most reliable way of getting it from point A to point B.”
Crouch said the appointment of Minister McCormack was an opportunity to focus the transport agenda on improving safety and boosting productivity.
“Trucking is critical to connecting Australians with goods and exports, as Michael McCormack knows well,” said Crouch.
“But road transport must be safe, and must keep Australian businesses competitive in global markets.
“The ATA looks forward to engaging with the Deputy Prime Minister on the need for independent and expert safety investigations of heavy vehicle accidents by the [Australian Transport Safety Bureau – ATSB – ed.] on implementing the new laws on Chain of Responsibility, and ensuring our fatigue laws and rest areas are focused on saving lives.
“We also need to enable economic opportunity by boosting productivity, improving road access, building better and safer roads and eliminating over-regulation,” he said.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said it is pleased that McCormack will also assume the role of Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
“It is pleasing that the second most senior figure in the Government will retain portfolio responsibility for this crucial area, given the importance of developing transport infrastructure to support national supply chain efficiency and build Australia’s export capacity,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff.
“As an industry leader on freight and supply chain policy, ALC always seeks to have a cooperative and productive relationship with the key ministers in portfolio areas that impact our industry,” he said.
Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson also welcomed the appointment. “The Victorian Transport Association wishes to congratulate Michael McCormack on his election as Leader of the Nationals, and his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport,” said Anderson. “We have worked closely with his predecessors in these vital portfolio areas, and we look forward to working with the Minister and his team to develop policies and solutions that improve conditions for freight and logistics operators throughout Australia.”

Joyce replaces Chester

The trucking and logistics industry has welcomed the announcement that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will be appointed as the new Infrastructure and Transport Minister.
“Barnaby Joyce has a wealth of experience and understanding of regional Australia, and understands the importance of roads and transport to communities’ right across Australia,” said Geoff Crouch, Chair, Australian Trucking Association (ATA).
“Trucking is an enabler of opportunity, allowing businesses to reach domestic and international markets, consumers to purchase goods, farms to sell their produce, and construction materials to enable new developments.”
The Deputy Prime Minister will be responsible for a significant transport agenda in 2018.
“The Government has announced a $75 billion infrastructure program, plans for progressing road pricing reform, launching a new national freight and supply chain strategy, and important reviews into safety accreditation schemes, the National Road Safety Strategy, and the National Land Transport Network,” said Crouch.
“It’s a significant to-do list and the ATA looks forward to working with the Government to ensure the views of the trucking industry are well represented.”
Crouch also welcomed the reappointment of Paul Fletcher as Minister for Urban Infrastructure, and now also with responsibility for cities.
“Paul Fletcher has shown a commitment to engage with trucking operators on the details of heavy vehicle reforms, and we look forward to that continuing,” said Crouch.
“There is a pressing need to enhance a new national agenda on land transport safety and productivity, and the ATA looks forward to engaging with Barnaby Joyce, Paul Fletcher and the Australian Government to make this a reality,” he said.
“We look forward to working with Barnaby Joyce, in building a safe, efficient and effective road transport industry for future years,” said National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) CEO, Warren Clark.
“We welcome a fresh perspective to a portfolio which is a vital component of building Australia’s productivity, particularly in rural and regional Australia.
“We hope to meet with the new Minster shortly, to discuss the prominent issues facing today’s trucking industry, including issues which need urgent attention such as: A lack of national consistency in regulatory requirements and enforcement, access restrictions for high productivity vehicles, and traffic congestion in urban areas.
“We’d also like to extend our appreciation to outgoing minister Darren Chester, for his contribution to the Road Transport Industry in his time as Minister. We admired his energy, intelligence and commitment to the portfolio,” he said.
Crouch paid thanks to the service of outgoing Transport Minister, Darren Chester.
“The trucking industry thanks Darren Chester for his work as Transport Minister and in particular his commitment and passion for road safety,” said Crouch.
“It has been an enormous honour and a privilege to serve in Cabinet in the best portfolio possible, infrastructure and transport,” Darren Chester said in a statement.
“Over the past two years, I’ve been part of policy and project decisions which will change lives and save lives across our nation.
“I’m proud of the work my team and I have done on behalf of the Government and I’m sorry we won’t get to finish some of the jobs we’ve started,” he said.

Industry speakers announced for CCF Summit

The Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) has announced the key individuals and business leaders set to speak at its 2017 Australian Infrastructure Summit this November.
The event will be held in Canberra on 20-21 November at the QT Hotel, with presenters comprising representatives from some of Australia’s leading corporations and government bodies, including:

  • Nick Cleary, Chairman, CLARA
  • Marc Allen, Programme Commercial Manager, Australian Rail Track Corporations
  • Sal Petroccitto, CEO, NHVR
  • Andrew Brown, Sales Director ANZ, PelicanCorp
  • John Murray AM, Australian Governments Security of Payments Legislation Review
  • Colonel Matt Galton, Director of the North Program, Capital Facilities and Infrastructure

The event also incorporates the launch of the 2017 Australia Infrastructure Outlook Report with Adrian Hart, Senior Economist, Infrastructure and Mining, BIS Shrapnel at the CCF Infrastructure Outlook Breakfast, which includes an address from Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester.
The Summit will play host to one of Australia’s most prestigious civil construction awards night – the CCF National Earth Awards, which recognises excellence in civil construction projects throughout Australia.
For more additional program and speaker information, and to register, go to the Summit website.

National transport reforms have led to some improvements in the rail regulatory regime, but much more needs to be done to achieve the full benefits of reform.

Inland Rail finds friends in Queensland

The Inland Rail project continues to advance, with ecological surveys beginning on the project in Queensland. Field studies for the Environmental Impact Statements for the Gowrie to Kagaru sections of Inland Rail in Queensland have begUn.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the ecology surveys for the Inland Rail sections from Gowrie to Kagaru would see the collection of spring and summer seasonal data about the flora and fauna of the area.
“With the Inland Rail progressing, it is important to get these ecological surveys underway to inform the design and broader environmental assessment of this Inland Rail section,” Mr Chester said.
“The field studies and investigations will help identify and understand animal and plant species in the area including their habitats.”
The Gowrie to Kagaru sections are said to be the most technically complex, requiring major tunnelling through the Toowoomba ranges.
Queensland stands to benefit from the Inland Rail, with more than 50 per cent of the construction cost to be spent in the state.
Support is mutual
Shadow Assistant Minister For Infrastructure Pat Conroy MP talked at length about the Inland Rail in a recent speech.
“We were the first ever national government to commit to building the 1,700 km Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria and the NSW central west.
“In particular, we invested $600 million upgrading existing parts of the rail network that will form part of the line. And in the 2013 Budget, we allocated $300 million to complete the detailed planning and get the project under way.
“In Australia freight rail carries half of our domestic freight, up from 36 per cent in 2000. In 2013/14 freight rail carried 1.3 billion tonnes of freight and contributed $5.1 billion to the Australian economy. 98 per cent was bulk freight with the remaining 2 per cent intermodal or containerised freight.
“By 2040, rail freight is expected to increase above its 2010 level by 130 per cent mainly driven by mineral exports.”
The domestic freight task has grown by 50 per cent in the decade to 2016 and is forecast to grow by another 26 per cent by 2026. By 2050 almost 12 million tonnes of freight is expected to move between Melbourne and Brisbane each year – more than twice the current levels.
“This massive growth requires a Federal Government committed to supporting infrastructure investment,” Mr Conroy said.
 

VTA celebrates project progress and industry resilience

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson has highlighted the major productivity challenges facing Australian freight and logistics operator in opening remarks to the VTA’s annual State Conference at Lorne.
Anderson said in a big-picture sense, it is a challenging time for all freight operators.
“Freight movements are generally down thanks to a stagnant economy, and operator margins that are already stretched thin are being further squeezed by higher input and variable costs. We are also operating in an increasing regulatory environment and having to adapt our businesses to satisfy and comply with additional regulatory oversight.”
Anderson explained operators are also facing higher road and infrastructure user charges, which eat into profits and erode margins.
“These factors highlight the need for operators to extract greater productivity from their systems, their equipment, their people, their customers and their suppliers to remain viable and successful.”
Anderon noted that there are a lot of exciting things happening in the industry across technology and innovation, safety and training and human resources, and infrastructure.
“We now have a North East Link Authority established and are actively putting together the business case and corridor study for the connection, which will finally link the M80 to EastLink or the Eastern Freeway,” he said.
“This has long been the VTA’s priority road infrastructure project and we are playing an active role in the consultation and planning for the connection, which the current Victorian Government has committed to take to the next election.
Anderson also reflected on the considerable progress made on the West Gate Tunnel project. The Victorian Government last week released additional plans and environmental modelling for the project, which will provide better access to the Port of Melbourne for heavy vehicles.
“While we support the project, we are unimpressed with plans to permanently curfew trucks from existing roads and force them to use a toll road. We’re working closely with the treasurer and the roads minister on incentives for trucks to use the new freeway, such as toll rebates and reduced tolls at nights, as well as exempting modern and efficient vehicles from the proposed curfews.”
Anderson explained that the Association is encouraging infrastructure planning and investments in the Port of Melbourne to ensure it remains Australia’s biggest.
“There are many issues working against freight volumes increasing within the Port of Melbourne, so it’s important we plan now for short- and long-term infrastructure needs at the Port to keep it competitive,” he said.
“This includes improving rail access via Port Rail Shuttles, proper road and rail infrastructure planning for freight movements in and out of the new Webb Dock Terminal, and upgrading infrastructure to accommodate high productivity freight vehicles.”

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