The Western Australian Government this week released the draft of its new strategy to guide policy and investment decisions for agricultural regional freight.
'Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy - Responding to Change' follows the Government's commitment to boosting freight and trade efficiency priorities identified for the Mid-West, Wheatbelt, Great Southern and Goldfields-Esperance agricultural regions.
The new draft strategy has been established to help guide policy and investment decisions for the next 10 years and coincides with a $10 million investment to upgrade key commodity routes.
According to the Government the strategy provides a framework to prioritise decision-making to address the key challenges faced when transporting grain, livestock, hay, fertiliser and agricultural lime in key agricultural regions.
Under the strategy more than 20 multi-modal regional transport infrastructure project packages that can assist in improving agricultural freight efficiencies and productivity have been singled out.
These include upgrades to roads to allow for heavy vehicle access and building new regional intermodal terminals.
Many of the secondary freight roads funded were part of the recent Commodity Freight Routes package announced by the Western Australian Government in the State Budget.
The State Budget also had $14 million allocated to Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Routes to complement $70 million put forward by the Commonwealth. This is part of the State Government's wider $2 billion regional roads budget for Western Australia.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said with the agricultural and food sector representing about 10 per cent of WA's economy, the Government
needed to ensure its crucial transport supply chains continued to improve by helping key regional agricultural areas prepare for future growth.
"The draft Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy identifies high priority infrastructure investments and regulatory improvements to help enhance efficiency, safety and economic growth of our agricultural sector - which are central to our ability to compete on a global scale," she said.
"The strategy provides a framework for business cases to be developed for road, rail, intermodal and port infrastructure projects for the next 10-15 years," said Saffioti.
"Having an endorsed strategy will help the State Government apply for further Commonwealth funding for regional transport infrastructure. We are seeking public comment on the draft strategy to ensure the best agricultural freight outcomes can be achieved for the key agricultural regions into the future."
WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the draft freight strategy had been developed in step with the needs of industry and the key agricultural regions to ensure it produces the best result for Western Australia.
"The freight task associated with agricultural supply chains presents challenges that are unique to these regions," he said.
"Improving transport efficiency across the agricultural supply chains will go a long way towards boosting the international competitiveness of WA products, and ensuring we have diverse regional economies."
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