The National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy has been released as the country prepares for the next 20 years in a rising consumer economy.
Developed by all Australian governments with extensive industry input, the Strategy and its associated National Action Plan will integrate the different transport modes for the first time according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.
“Australian freight supply chains get petrol to our service stations, fresh food to our supermarket shelves, waste to the tip, construction materials to building sites and essential pharmaceuticals to our hospitals – delivering about 163 tonnes of freight per person around the country each year,” he said.
“With our freight volumes expected to grow by more than a third by 2040 and online shopping growth at over 20 per cent a year, we need to increase the productivity of our freight system. At the same time, we have to plan for and manage the introduction of new technologies and risks from increasing natural disasters, such as the devastating floods in Queensland last year."
The Strategy will only succeed, however, if implementation plans due to be presented in November commit to meaningful actions, backed by new investment and real deadlines for delivery said ALC CEO Kirk Conningham.
“ALC welcomes the fact that as a result of the Strategy agreed to today, Australia now has a clear set of actions for improving supply chain efficiency which all governments nation-wide have committed to pursue,” he said in a statement.
“We now need those same governments to follow through with concrete plans for implementation, so that the Strategy can start to deliver tangible benefits for our economy, for consumers and for communities,” Conningham said.
“Our industry has made a substantial contribution to the Strategy’s development, beginning with an industry-led Inquiry that comprehensively established the issues that needed to be addressed.”
McCormack said the Strategy commits to national action in four critical areas which included smarter and targeted infrastructure investment; improving supply chain efficiency; better planning, coordination and regulation; and better freight location and performance data.
“The Strategy’s governance arrangements provide a mechanism to ratchet up action and ambition from all governments and industry over time in order to lift the performance of the freight system," he said.
"Jurisdictions will report back to the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council in November with their implementation arrangements for delivering the Strategy,” said McCormack.
Conningham said the Strategy had been a long-term policy objective for ALC and that it was impossible to understate how central the successful implementation of the Strategy would be to sustaining the standard of living in Australia.
“The price we pay for consumer goods, our international competitiveness, continued growth in exports and the liveability of our communities are all inextricably linked to our ability to move freight efficiently, safely and cost effectively,” Conningham said.
“ALC particularly welcomes the focus in this Strategy on the establishment of a National Freight Data Hub and the commitment to developing a set of National Planning Principles, which we have long recommended as urgent actions needed to overcome barriers to enhanced supply chain performance.”
“However, we now need the answer to the final and most critical question – how are we going to deliver the actions that Ministers have agreed to?”
“Although we note that there will be an annual update to the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) on the implementation of the Strategy, in many cases the lines of accountability are still not clear when it comes to delivering on items set out in the National Action Plan.”
The ALC believes it is imperative that every jurisdiction submits a single implementation plan in order to hold governments to account for delivering on the Strategy.