Prime Mover Magazine

Government investing $100B on vision to combat freight productivity challenges

An ambitious infrastructure plan investing $100 billion on a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy has been launched by the Federal Government as part of its ongoing commitment to keep on top of surging freight volumes.

Working together with industry and state, territory and local governments, the Liberals and Nationals have announced an 'age of infrastructure' to assist road transport companies meet growing demand and the subsequent changes inherent in a rapidly evolving freight task.

To help ensure freight is continued to be moved efficiently Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack outlined a long term strategy across the industry – the latest in a series of investments announced by the Federal Government as it seeks re-election in May.

“A 20-year vision is needed for coordinating investment, regulation, and planning across all modes—road, rail, air and maritime—to drive real improvements to Australia’s freight productivity," said McCormack.

“We are improving our road freight network through a number of investments under the Government’s $100 billion infrastructure plan, such as the $4.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance initiative," he said.

“That means more jobs. That means safer roads. And that means a stronger economy.”

The COAG Infrastructure and Transport Ministerial Council has reportedly committed to developing a 20-year National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy which will form the basis of an integrated approach to improving the connectivity of all freight modes and supply chains.

Implementation of the Strategy by industry and all three tiers of Government from 2019 is anticipated to enhance the competitiveness of all Australia’s regions in domestic and global markets.

In addition to this, the design of a National Freight Data Hub in which $8.5 million had already been committed, would assist businesses and governments plan and make better operational and investment decisions.

According to McCormack, calls from industry for better freight data will be delivered as result.

"We know better data makes better decisions and that means jobs and opportunities can flow, especially in the regions,” he said.

A recently released report published by the iMove Cooperative Research Centre analyses the freight data needs of industry and government and suggests, according to the Government, how improving ways of collecting relevant data could improve freight sector planning and operations.

Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport Scott Buchholz said in reference to another report, Delivering on Freight, showcased the commitments going forward of the Federal Government.

“Our commitment to the National Action Plan includes investing to remove pinch points in key freight corridors, improving heavy vehicle access to local roads and improving the availability and ways we can share freight data,” he said.

Buchholz also said the $8 million pledged to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator would streamline the approval process for road access by heavy vehicles.

“The investment complements the Liberal and Nationals Government’s agreement with State and Territory Ministers to implement 12 recommendations from the review of Oversize Overmass vehicle access arrangements, making it easier to do business without compromising safety," he said.

The NHVR, according to Buchholz, is seeking agreement from councils and road managers on the new draft National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Notice, which will harmonise state-based notices into a single national notice and update standards.

“This is just another sensible reform to make life easier for farmers, enabling them to move the majority of their equipment between farms and ensuring they can do business more efficiently,” he said.

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