THE Australian Logistics Council says the Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019 released this week highlights the need for more effectively targeting investment in freight infrastructure. It says it also demonstrates the need to prioritise regulatory reforms that will help alleviate bottlenecks, particularly in non-bulk, agricultural and urban freight supply chains.

“The audit released by Infrastructure Australia today is a timely reminder for all governments that the provision of quality freight infrastructure is essential to maintaining Australia’s economic position in the world and enhancing our quality of life,” ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said.

Australia’s freight task is growing more rapidly than its population, increasing by 50% in the decade to 2016, compared with population growth of 18% over the same period.

The National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy released less than a fortnight ago projects freight volumes will increase by more than 35% between now and 2040.

“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to deal with challenges such as urban congestion, bottlenecks in regional supply chains and reform inconsistent and outdated regulatory regimes, the performance of our freight networks will suffer and Australian consumers will pay the price,” Mr Coningham said.

The ALC welcomed the emphasis the audit places on addressing fragmented access conditions in the freight network.

“Although ongoing investment in freight infrastructure such as Inland Rail, Western Sydney Airport and improving on-dock rail facilities at ports will be critical, building new infrastructure will not solve every problem,” Mr Coningham said.

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The ALC calls for regulatory reform that delivers greater cross-jurisdictional consistency in access arrangements, operational matters and safety as essential to reducing delays in freight movement for customers and reducing 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.

“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,” Mr Coningham 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, the ALC will be encouraging all jurisdictions to commit to action that will address these “fundamental challenges”.

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