The release of the Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019 brings attention to how more targeted investment in freight infrastructure is necessary according to the Australian Logistics Council (ALC).
Prioritising regulatory reforms to alleviate bottlenecks, particularly in non-bulk, agricultural and urban freight supply chains along with effective investment targeting freight infrastructure were going to be essential to helping Australia maintain its economic position in the world.
“Australia’s freight task is growing more rapidly than our population, increasing by 50 per cent in the decade to 2016, compared with population growth of 18 per cent over the same period," said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
"The National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy released less than a fortnight ago projects freight volumes will increase by more than 35 per cent between now and 2040,” he said.
“Such rapid growth will place enormous pressures on our freight network. Unless we take concrete action to deal with challenges such as urban congestion, bottlenecks in regional supply chains and reform inconsistent and outdated regulatory regimes, the performance of our freight networks will suffer and Australian consumers will pay the price.”
The ALC said it welcomed the emphasis the audit places on addressing fragmented access conditions across the freight network.
Building new infrastructure, despite infrastructure investments across Inland Rail, Western Sydney Airport and port rail facilities, will not solve every problem according to Conningham.
Regulatory reform he said that delivers greater cross-jurisdictional consistency in access arrangements, operational matters and safety is essential to reducing delays in freight movement for customers.
It would bring down costs for freight logistics operators across all modes of freight transport.
“Similarly, the audit correctly notes that Australia’s regulatory regimes are inhibiting the take-up of technology that can deliver measurable improvements to the efficiency, safety and environmental performance of our supply chains," said Conningham.
"This includes technology that can capture data about freight movement, allowing for more effective route-planning and infrastructure investment, as well as the adoption of high productivity vehicles, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles in the freight sector,” he said.
“As all governments prepare their National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy Implementation Plans ahead of the November meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council, ALC will be encouraging all jurisdictions to commit to action that will address these fundamental challenges.”