ALC welcomes focus on freight in new Federal Ministry

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has congratulated Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his decision to incorporate freight transport as a specific responsibility in his revamped ministerial line-up.
“The Prime Minister is sending an important message to our industry and to the wider community with this announcement,” Kirk Coningham, CEO at ALC said.
“ALC especially welcomes the appointment of Hon. Scott Buchholz as Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport. It is significant that freight transport is now a specific portfolio title within the ministry, and highlights that enhanced supply chain performance will be a priority for the re-elected Coalition Government.”
“ALC also congratulates Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Michael McCormack MP on his re-appointment as Minster for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and Hon. Alan Tudge MP on his elevation to Cabinet as Minster for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure.”
“We also welcome Hon. Sussan Ley MP as Minister for the Environment, and congratulate Senator Hon. Matt Canavan on again being appointed Minster for Resources and Northern Australia.”
“During the election campaign, ALC released Freight: Delivering Opportunity For Australia which sets out 39 priority actions for the incoming Federal Government that address challenges and opportunities relevant to all modes of freight transport.”
“ALC will be pursuing the matters contained in this publication with the re-elected Coalition Government, and ensuring that supply chain efficiency and safety is appropriately prioritised in government policy making.”
“The most urgent priorities are the finalisation the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, establishing the National Freight Data Hub, making certain that electric freight vehicles form part of the National Electric Vehicle Strategy the Government has committed to develop, and doing more to enhance freight infrastructure in Northern Australia, so we can take advantage of the region’s proximity to growing export markets.”
“ALC also congratulates Hon. Anthony Albanese on his appointment as Leader of the Opposition. Given his vast experience in dealing with infrastructure related matters, there is now a genuine opportunity to build a long-term approach to infrastructure planning and investment that is truly bipartisan in nature. ALC hopes to work closely with both the Government and the Opposition in furtherance of that objective.”


Parties must get real on freight: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has expressed concern regarding the lack of focus from all sides of politics on Australia’s supply chain and freight in election campaign policy announcements. Read more

Ports Australia sets three election priorities

Ports Australia has released its three priority policies, ahead of the 2019 federal election, that the organisation believes will save Australians money, increase our international competitiveness, strengthen the economy, create jobs in regional areas and help reduce congestion in our cities.
The policies also come with a warning of an impending maritime skills shortage.
According to Ports Australia, the three policies work together to promote a more efficient freight and supply chain through mode neutrality, smarter regulation and job creation.
“Ports are the starting and finishing points for exports and imports heading to and from Australian businesses and households.”
“With our growing population and even faster-growing freight task it is imperative that we start developing and implementing effective long-term plans for our freight network to support this country.
“We believe that an Australia with better-connected Ports that utilise the strength of each transport mode; the flexibility of trucking, connectivity of rail and capacity of shipping, can be a more internationally competitive country with a lower cost of living.
“Our policies also include a caution that poor national freight and infrastructure planning will have compounded negative results. Of concern is the dwindling pool of maritime skills in this country able to run the Ports, Australia’s trade and economic gateways,” Mike Gallacher, Chief Executive, Ports Australia said.
The three policies are:
1. Improving Lives Through Connected Ports
Currently 80 per cent of all freight trips to and from a port are conducted by truck adding to city congestion. By better connecting Ports with rail and road networks and planning approaches to allow for sensible development around Ports, governments can reduce overall congestion, pollution and maintenance costs while increasing road safety through efficient and strategic truck movements. Corridor protection and planning to link Ports with industrial zones and regions will also play a significant role in creating a liveable future for our cities.
2. Building Maritime Skills
Because Ports handle almost all our physical trade, Australia is particularly vulnerable to impacts created by a workforce lacking maritime skills. Ports require highly specialised people who have had decades of experience to fill crucial Ports roles; harbour masters, pilots, tugs masters, hydrographers and land side operators.
“Over 60% of skilled people in the sector are over 45 while the number aged under 30 is reducing. Ports around the country, particularly regional Ports, are struggling to recruit adequately skilled people for specific roles.”
“Government needs to find ways to increase opportunities for Australians to enter the maritime industry. Our Ports around the country already run cadetship, internship and graduate programs but more needs to be done given there is a shortfall in mariners not just in Australia but globally,” Mike said.
3. Using Australia’s Blue Highway
Australia’s freight task will double by 2030 after already increasing by 50 per cent over the past 20 years. Our current and planned infrastructure cannot handle the growth in freight movements. With over 80 per cent of our population living within 50 km of the coast Australians are connected by the Blue Highway, an underutilised transport mode.
“Unfortunately, only 15 per cent of our domestic freight task is moved by ship. We believe more non-time specific freight such as construction materials and fuel can be moved along our blue highway.  This frees up space on our roads and rail while providing training opportunities for Australian mariners.”
“Ports are a part of Australia’s future success story and we look forward to working with the government on implementing policies to support Australians through their Ports.
“Freight cooperation and planning is also part of the story. We urge all political parties to reach a bi-partisan agreement on strategy and for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to be released within in the first 100 days of the incoming government,”Mike concluded.

Transport portfolio reshuffle following Victoria election

The Andrews Labor Government has announced a new cabinet, including new appointments for roads, transport and freight portfolios, following its re-election in Victoria.
Jacinta Allan, formerly Minister for Public Transport and Employment, has been given the Transport Infrastructure portfolio in the new cabinet.
“The Andrews Government is embarking on the biggest infrastructure program Victoria has ever seen,” according to a statement from Premier Daniel Andrews’ office.
“To ensure this is delivered, Jacinta Allan takes on the portfolio of Transport Infrastructure, with responsibility for projects including the Level Crossing Removal Program, North East Link, West Gate Tunnel, Metro Tunnel and Suburban Rail Loop.”
Ms. Allen leads an all-female transport team with Melissa Horne made Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Ports and Freight, while Jaala Pulford takes on the Roads, Road Safety and the TAC, and Fishing and Boating portfolios.
Luke Donnellan moves on as Minister for Roads and Road Safety to become Minister for Child Protection and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers.

Australia to scrap 457 visa program

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the 457 skilled visa program will be replaced by a new visa with added requirements for temporary foreign workers.
“We are putting jobs first, we are putting Australians first…we are an immigration nation, but the fact remains that Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” the PM announced this week via social network Facebook. “We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.”
The 457 visa program was designed for Australian or overseas employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work in the country temporarily. The program offered two main pathways – business sponsorship and self-sponsorship.
It will now be replaced by two temporary visas – one for two-year stays and another for four-year stays. Under the new system, employers wishing to sponsor individuals for the visas will be required to prove that candidates have at least two years of previous work experience and a higher level of English language competence than is currently required. They will also need to carry out stricter labour market testing and have the candidate undergo a criminal background check.
According to the Federal Government, the number of eligible jobs for the visas will be cut from 651 to 435, with application fees to increase. It also said that current 457 visa holders will not be affected by the changes.
The Business Council of Australia said the cancellation of the 457 program will help rebuild public confidence. “The capacity for businesses to hire temporary workers to fill genuine skill shortages has been an overall boon for Australia, allowing the economy to ride out volatile economic cycles – including in the mining industry,” said Jennifer Westacott, CEO, Business Council.
“Businesses naturally prefer to hire Australians wherever possible – it’s easier, it’s cheaper and it means workers come ready with valuable local knowledge and skills. However, when there aren’t enough skilled workers available, a small number of temporary visas can be the deciding factor in whether or not a large investment goes ahead.
“Now that the Government has taken this decision, it is crucial that they work with employers to get the details right and ensure industry’s ability to fill genuine skills shortages is enhanced, not degraded.
“If we’re serious about getting Australians into skilled jobs, we must also revitalise our neglected vocational education and training system which has been treated like the poor cousin of the universities. We also need to look at the kinds of incentives that could encourage Australians to take up jobs in regional areas.”

VTA CEO Peter Anderson welcomed the Commonwealth’s review of the 457 visa system.

“The replacement of the current scheme by a two-tiered system will provide focus on industry based skill shortages that will also attract training funding,” Anderson said.

“It is expected that there will be more funds available for training in industries that will have a skills shortage, it will also give the opportunity for the transport industry to identify and develop specific skill shortages that will attract training funding.

“The 457 system has been taken advantage of by industry sectors and employment groups for years.

“The new system will provide greater accountability and will identify the areas of real skill shortage.”

In a statement, the Australian Truck Association (ATA) noted that  the abolishment of the 457 visa program should have little effect for truck drivers since the occupation is not currently featured on the list of eligible job positions.

“It is currently possible to bring truck drivers into Australia under labour agreements where appropriate, and these proved invaluable for employers in regional areas during the mining investment boom,” the statement said. “This announcement made it clear that these regional arrangements can continue where required.

“The ATA is concerned about the quality of truck driver training and assessment generally, not just for overseas drivers. There are many excellent trainers. Others train to a price.

“They guarantee how long the course will take, regardless of how competent you are at the end of it, or they do not use industry standard equipment. Operators are particularly concerned about the variable quality of training in chain of responsibility, load restraint, fatigue management and work health and safety.”

The ATA is a member of the Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee, which was set up by the Australian Government to provide advice on training standards.

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