Investment group to acquire Coates Hire

Investment group Seven Group Holdings (SGH) has announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to pay $517 million to acquire the remaining 53.3 per cent of securities in equipment hire company Coates Hire that it does not already own, from an affiliate of Carlyle Asia Partners II, a fund managed by The Carlyle Group, and minority owners.
SGH said in a media statement that the Coates Hire acquisition reflects its continued focus on becoming “the leading operator of industrial services businesses in Australia” and driving efficient capital allocation across its portfolio.
“The Coates Hire business is led by a strong and experienced management team, with a number of business improvement initiatives in place and already delivering results,” the statement continued.
“Full ownership of Coates Hire will enhance SGH’s portfolio with increased exposure to industrial services.”
Ryan Stokes, Managing Director and CEO, SGH, said: “We are pleased to reach agreement with Carlyle to acquire the shares in Coates Hire we don’t already own.
“We have had a long history with the Coates Hire business and believe with the visible market opportunity associated with East Coast infrastructure activity, along with the current performance of the business and management team, the company is extremely well positioned to create value for all shareholders.
“The move to full ownership of Coates Hire will enhance SGH’s position as a leading operator of industrial services businesses, with a strong macroeconomic environment and a positive outlook providing the potential for significant opportunities to be realised.”
The transaction is subject to satisfactory waivers being obtained from Coates Hire’s existing lending syndicate.

Taskforce established for Kwinana port development

The taskforce that will complete the planning for Western Australia’s McGowan Government’s long-term Outer Harbour freight vision has now been established.
The multi-agency Westport Taskforce will outline a long-range vision to guide the planning, development and growth of both the Inner Harbour at Fremantle and the future Outer Harbour at Kwinana.
The Westport Taskforce will deliver the Westport: Ports and Environs Strategy, for which a team of experts from government agencies responsible for planning, transport, environment, jobs and finances will develop answers to key policy questions surrounding the location, size, operating model and timing for a future port.
Meanwhile, planning for the associated road and rail links to support the new port facilities will also form part of the overarching strategy.
Nicole Lockwood is to be appointed as the independent chairperson of the Westport Taskforce. She is a former director of KPMG, current board member of Infrastructure Australia and chairperson of the Freight Logistics Council of Western Australia.
Lockwood was also recently appointed to the expert panel to lead the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities.
The Taskforce Steering Committee will also comprise director generals of six government departments, with the chairpersons of the Planning Commission and Fremantle Ports.
They will be supported by multi-disciplinary project personnel and supplemented as required by external technical expertise.
The taskforce’s governance arrangements will also incorporate stakeholders including government agencies, port users, local governments, community groups and transport industry unions.
The State Government is committed to retaining the inner harbour as a working port and the taskforce will be expected to ensure that the Outer Harbour is planned in a way that achieves an optimal balance between both facilities.
“This milestone step to establish the Westport Taskforce will lay the foundations for delivering the Outer Harbour,” said Transport, Planning and Lands Minister, Rita Saffioti.
“The Westport Taskforce will focus on providing the necessary infrastructure to support the long-term economic development of the state, maximising future jobs, minimising costs and truck movements, and maximising opportunities for innovation.
“Our pre-election commitment was to give renewed priority to planning for the Outer Harbour and the associated road and rail links as part of a long-term integrated transport plan for the state.
“We’ve allocated an initial $6 million in last week’s Budget so that significant further planning work can start, building on existing technical planning.
“The Outer Harbour has been supported by successive State governments and it is vital we get on with this after the previous government put planning on hold to push for its flawed Perth Freight Link project.”

Infrastructure minister commends rail progress

Speaking at the recent Rail Futures Conference held in Melbourne in mid-September by the Rail Freight Alliance, Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, commended the efforts being made to bolster Australia’s rail capability.
“If we look back at the past 50 years of rail freight here in Victoria, it has been a story of decline – at least, up until recently,” Chester said, adding that as a result of the closure of regional lines and the abolishment of freight gates, goods were increasingly being transported by road rather than rail.
“There is now record investment going into rail freight,” he added, citing government support secured for the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project, $8.4 billion earmarked for the Inland Rail project, the $58 million Victorian Port Rail Shuttle and the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“Since becoming Minister, I have been pleased to oversee a $20 billion investment in rail,” he said. “These projects will ease urban congestion, grow the regions and create thousands of new jobs.
“The freight and logistics industry identified rail’s potential to reduce transport costs by about 10 per cent…Our government has secured three Free Trade Agreements, and we are building the infrastructure to capitalise on that.”
Chester added that work is continuing on the Inquiry into National freight and Supply Chain Priorities, designed to inform the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.
“The inquiry will set our understanding of what challenges and opportunities lie ahead, and how we can take advantage of them,” he said.
“It is these investments that are going to set up our nation for the next 100 years. I am proud to be playing a part in delivering these game-changing projects, in partnership with the community.
“These are the projects our kids and our grandkids will thank us for – in the cities and in the regions.”

CouriersPlease opens two new depots

Parcel delivery service CouriersPlease has opened two new relocated logistics facilities in major Australian cities, investment in its infrastructure ahead of a forecast growth in parcel deliveries in tandem with the growth in e-commerce.
The two new Perth and Melbourne locations will be key logistics facilities as the company expands its reach in Australia and overseas, as CouriersPlease explained in a media statement.
Located in the new $440 million logistics hub Drystone Industrial Estate, CouriersPlease’s relocated state-of-the-art logistics facility in Truganina, Victoria, replaces the company’s Port Melbourne, Victoria, depot. Along with CouriersPlease’s existing Mulgrave facility, it will provide the business with east-to-west coverage of Melbourne. The site is 29,000m2 in total, with 12,500m2 under the roof, and will accommodate over 160 courier vehicles. Additional bay spaces have also been allocated to accommodate future growth.
Drystone Industrial Estate is home to other distribution centres for major Australian companies, including Kmart, The Reject Shop and Rand.
The second recently opened logistics facility is located in Welshpool, an inner south-eastern suburb of Perth. The new 4,043m2 site will be the delivery hub for Perth and Western Australia. It comprises a 3,443m2 warehouse, with a 600m2 office space, and room to expand a further 2,000m2 in the future.
The logistics facility will provide improves access to the CBD and the north and south of the city and is close to main arterial routes such as Orrong Road, Welshpool Road, Leach Highway and Tonkin Highway.
In September last year, CouriersPlease opened a relocated Brisbane depot in Salisbury, and a new Adelaide depot is set to open in Marleston later this year.
“CouriersPlease has relocated our logistics facilities in major capital cities in order to accommodate the significant growth in the volume of parcels moving throughout our network,” Mark McGinley, CEO, CouriersPlease. “Our commitment in moving to the west of Melbourne has stemmed from it being a massive growth corridor with some of the highest rates of online shopping in the country. Our new Welshpool depot gives us greater coverage of the city and a larger warehouse space for logistics operations, allowing us to bring a better service to our customers. With room for future expansion, we hope to bring more jobs and opportunities to the local community.”

DPWA introduces Fremantle surcharge

DP World Australia (DPWA) has announced that it will introduce a charge at its Fremantle Terminal as part of the basis for which access to the terminal is granted, for both road and rail operators, from 30 October 2017.
In a media release, Luke Westlake, General Manager – Operations, DP World Fremantle, stated that the charge reflects a “considerable” rise in property costs at Fremantle Terminal in the last five years.
“DPWA has incurred material increases in the costs of occupancy of more than 25 per cent, covering the cost of council rates, land tax and rent,” Westlake said. “DPWA avoided passing these costs onto the supply chain over this period, attempting to offset them through efficiency improvements. Despite, DPWA’s continued efforts, these material step changes in costs cannot be offset.”
He also cited investment DPWA has made in infrastructure to “keep pace” with industry expectations, and to handle greater peaks and troughs in cargo arrival patterns.
The surcharge will be $8.22 (excluding GST) per container and will apply to all full containers received or delivered to/from landside operators at Fremantle Terminal.
Full containers received or delivered via road will be charged to the road carrier through the 1-Stop Vehicle Booking System, while full containers received or delivered to rail will be charged to the rail operator as a separate item on the invoices produced.
“Ongoing access to Fremantle Terminal will be conditional on payment of the charges as per our conditions,” Westlake added.
DPWA noted in an additional statement that the surcharge is necessary to maintain productivity levels at the Terminal.
“This is a modest charge, which takes into consideration not only rising costs but the investment required to ensure our terminals continue to provide the highest levels of productivity,” the statement said. “This comes amidst the greatest levels of competition in Australian stevedoring history.”
Paul Zalai, Director of the Freight Trade Alliance (FTA) and Secretariat at the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) advised that representatives of both the FTA and APSA will meet Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester MP in Canberra on 19 September in a bid for his help in stemming the tide of surcharges.

Rail industry takes National Rail Plan to Parliament

Representatives from the rail industry met with Commonwealth Ministers on 12 September to discuss the need for a National Rail Industry Plan for the benefit of Australia.
“Today is a significant day for the rail industry as we build momentum for a National Rail Industry Plan and meeting with Commonwealth Ministers is our first step,” said Danny Broad, CEO, Australasian Railway Association (ARA).
“The rail industry makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy. Investment in rail by Australian Governments will be in the order of $100 billion through to 2030. We are meeting with Commonwealth Ministers today to say – we need a plan to coordinate this effort and we need your support.
“Through better coordination and long-term certainty, we can ensure the industry is well positioned to take advantage of all the lessons from the past and position ourselves for the future.
“The Commonwealth Government will be investing $89 billion in naval shipbuilding through to 2055. This investment will be supported by a Naval Shipbuilding Plan. Rail’s contribution to Australia is no less than shipbuilding.”
He noted that a combined effort by commonwealth, state and territory government, and industry support, would be required.
The National Rail Industry Plan will need to include five key areas of focus, he shared, including recognising the importance of rail for Australia’s infrastructure development, urban planning and freight movements; harmonising standards, minimising regulations and maximising economies of scale; growing the capabilities of individuals and companies; maximising opportunities for rail companies; and fostering innovation, research and development.

Facebook and infrastructure

Shannon Gillespie
Today, everyone knows that an idea isn’t a good one until it ‘trends’. Last year, the City of Sydney’s Zero Waste marketing campaign featured the creation of an outdoor vinyl sticker campaign that made use of clever situational placement and optical illusions to highlight the problem of dumping household waste throughout the city.
Designed for city dwellers to interact with, each piece was customised to its environment to amuse and educate people about the city’s free pickup service. One of the installations was a giant stack of household waste on the side of a building that increased in size every week for three weeks. As a by-product, the hashtag #freepickup and site shot to stardom as people snapped and shared photos of themselves with old fridges, washing machines and the like in odd, but memorable, locations such as the middle of a cycle path. The result, the City claims, was “a virtual doubling of the number of calls to the free pickup service within a week of installation”.
Imagine if we took the principles of this social marketing campaign and applied it to our engineering problems. How often do we spend megabucks on infrastructure projects, but do relatively little, if anything, to educate people about the right way to operate infrastructure or to change their behaviours when using it?
The 2000 Sydney Olympics was hailed as “the best organised Olympic Games ever” and was the epitome of how an effective marketing and communications plan can solve complex problems. With a population of four million people and an expected influx of half a million visitors to Sydney for the Olympic Games, drastic measures were required to cope with the pressure on infrastructure.
But instead of focusing on developing new transport infrastructure, a major public communications plan was executed to modify the travel behaviour of visitors and spectators. The message was simple – Olympic transport will be different but will work well. And it did! The Sydney Olympic Games achieved the first-ever 100 per cent spectator accessibility by public transport.
As engineers, our natural response is to design highly sophisticated and intelligent infrastructure that automatically adapts itself to meet the demand. We design complex and expensive control systems to control infrastructures performance and operation. The infrastructure is designed to modulate in response to the variables which, in most cases, are people.
But are we looking at society’s complex challenges through the wrong lens? The recent heatwave in South Australia put pressure on the state’s electricity network due to people turning on their air conditioning. As a consequence, 90 000 properties suffered a blackout during load shedding at the end of a 42 degrees Celsius day.
While the problem appears to have been a technical one, could we not have modified the behaviour of the people? Experts say that in order to conserve energy in a heatwave, people should not lower their air conditioning below 26 degrees Celsius – this has nothing to do with the comfort of individuals but everything to do with avoiding a catastrophic power outage. Whilst it may not be a long-term solution, an effective marketing campaign would help solve the problem in the interim.
We are living in a world where more than ever before, we need our facilities to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible  ̶  not only from an environmental perspective but also from optimising the use of capital. According to the World Economic Forum, global spending on basic infrastructure – transport, water and communications – currently totals USD 2.7 trillion a year, USD 1 trillion short of what is needed. The difference is nearly as large as South Korea’s GDP.
As pressure on our natural and economic resources increases, so too does our ability to design effective infrastructure projects. If engineers treated marketing as another tool in their toolkit, how many of our complex infrastructure problems could be solved? How many millions of dollars could be saved on new infrastructure projects simply through marketing campaigns targeted at changing user behaviour?
More and more, engineers should be telling their clients that a well-designed behavioural campaign should go hand in hand with a well-designed infrastructure project. In future, we might see Marketing Fundamentals become a standard feature of the Bachelor of Engineering curriculum.
Shannon Gillespie is with Aurecon.

Andrews Labor government to deliver West Gate Tunnel incentives

The Andrews Labor government will introduce new West Gate Tunnel incentives to stop “rat runs” throughout Melbourne’s western suburbs, following plans for a North East Link tollway.
The Labor government has reported that it will require the West Gate Tunnel operator to set discounted shuttle rates, night time discounts and cap maximum daily tolls for trucks making multiple trips through the tunnel to improve freight productivity and reduce costs.
The project will, reportedly, directly link the West Gate Freeway to the Port with twin tunnels under Yarraville, and optimise fleet routes by avoiding 17 sets of traffic lights.
Trucks with a local origin or destination in the area will be exempt from the truck bans, according to Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan.
“This is a win for the whole community – quieter, safer streets for the inner west and cheaper, more efficient port access for the transport industry, said Donnelan. “By providing a dedicated route to the port, the West Gate Tunnel project will take thousands of trucks off local roads in the inner west. Without the Tunnel there can be no truck bans.”
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has welcomed the government’s West Gate Tunnel toll incentives.
“We are pleased that the Victorian government has listened to the VTA’s consistent calls for heavy vehicle operators to be incentivised to use toll roads like the West Gate Tunnel,” saidPeter Anderson, CEO, VTA.
“The transport industry has been hit with substantial increases to tolls and infrastructure costs at the Port of Melbourne this year, so it is encouraging that steps are being taken by the government to ensure heavy vehicle operators are not penalised for using toll roads.
“Whilst permanent 24/7 bans on trucks travelling through Blackshaws and Hudsons Road form part of today’s announcement, they will be more than offset by the productivity gains that will be realised from giving operators a financial incentive to use the West Gate Tunnel.
“The trade-off is also welcome because it demonstrates that the Victorian government understands it cannot simply take something away from the industry without compensating for it in some other way.
“In this case, there will be new restrictions on trucks using certain roads, however the benefits that will flow from incentivising them to use the toll road is ample compensation, and is the kind of thinking that must be applied to other situations where the industry is asked to make substantial sacrifices.”

Submissions sought for IA's 2018 Infrastructure Priority List

Infrastructure Australia (IA) is calling on Australian governments and leaders to identify infrastructure problems and opportunities of national significance as part of its 2018 Infrastructure Priority List (IPL) update.
Submissions are open until 27 October this year, with the revised IPL due for publication in February next year.
“We are keen for states and territories and other partners to submit initiatives that solve the most pressing infrastructure problems facing our nation,” said Infrastructure Australia CEO Philip Davies in a statement.
“The 2018 IPL will build on the current list, with new initiatives to reflect emerging infrastructure priorities across Australia, and updates to existing initiatives,” said Davies.
“We welcome submissions for all types of infrastructure, including programs of related works and programs for network optimisation.”
Proponents can make a submission via the Infrastructure Priority List—Call for submissions page.

ACCC given port pricing regulation power

A Federal Court ruling has given the Australian Competition and Consumer Competition (ACCC) power to monitor and regulate pricing at the Port of Newcastle.
Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) General Manager Simon O’Hara said RFNSW was carefully analysing the ruling but described it as a “precedent case of intervention for the regulator.”
“It certainly sends a very strong message to industry about price gouging and that price increases need to be on the basis of an actual increase in costs,” O’Hara said.
RFNSW has thus called for the ACCC to act on new stevedore taxes imposed on truck operators.
“We believe there’s a lesson to be learnt here for stevedores, given that they have burdened our members with unreasonable increases in charges for accessing their terminals at Port Botany.
“They’re on notice.
“In light of the Federal Court’s ruling, RFNSW is again calling on the ACCC to act, for the sake of our members and other users of port infrastructure.”
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has reminded the ACCC to ensure it is sufficiently resourced and has personnel possessing experience in the operation and/or regulation of logistics infrastructure.
“There are many specialist and complex issues at work with the operation of supply chains and logistics infrastructure,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC.
“[The] Federal Court decision seems to point to increasing ACCC involvement in pricing and access issues at ports.
“If that is going to be the case, then it is imperative that the ACCC ensures it is properly resourced with personnel who have had exposure to and experience in dealing with the complex and unique nature of these infrastructure assets,” he said.
“Any regulatory role played by the ACCC in the freight logistics sector must be fit for purpose.”

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