DEPUTY Prime Minister and minister for transport Michael McCormack said the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy had been agreed upon by transport ministers on 2 August.

The strategy and its associated action plan, developed by all Australian governments with industry input, will integrate the different transport modes for the first time.

“Australian freight supply chains… deliver about 163 tonnes of freight per person around the country each year,” Mr McCormack said.

“With our freight volumes expected to grow by more than a third by 2040 and online shopping growth at over 20% a year, we need to increase the productivity of our freight system.”

The strategy commits to national action in four critical areas: 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,” Mr McCormack said.

Jurisdictions will report back to the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council in November with their implementation arrangements for delivering the strategy.

The Australian Logistics Council welcomed the release of the strategy, but says it will only succeed if the implementation plans commit to meaningful actions, backed by new investment and real deadlines for delivery.

“The development of this strategy has been a long-term policy objective for ALC and has been enthusiastically supported by industry participants,” ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said.

“Now it is time for all governments to match that commitment by ensuring their implementation plans clearly spell out how, when and by whom actions will be delivered, so that progress can be measured and jurisdictions can be held to account.

“It is impossible to understate how central the successful implementation of this strategy is to sustaining our standard of living in Australia.”

The ALC particularly welcomed the establishment of a National Freight Data Hub and the commitment to developing a set of National Planning Principles, which it believes will overcome barriers to enhance supply chain performance.

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Assistant minister for road safety and freight transport Scott Buchholz said the success of the strategy would rely on the ability of governments and industry to work together during its implementation.

“All Australian governments recognise that freight is the lifeblood of the Australian economy. Our challenge now is to turn the strategy’s vision for Australia’s freight and supply chains into a reality,” Mr Buchholz said.

Assistant minister to the deputy prime minister Andrew Gee said the action plan shows, for the first time, the extensive and collaborative action the government is taking to improve the national freight system.

“It showcases the extensive contributions the Australian Government is making, such as the $4.5bn Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, $32m to improve agricultural export systems and $5.2m to settle the design of a National Freight Data Hub,” Mr Gee said.

The expert panel commissioned by the government in March 2017 to lead an inquiry into national freight and supply chain priorities have expressed their support for the strategy and action plan.

Chief executive of NSW Ports Marika Calfas said she was pleased to see the commitment to keep industry engaged throughout the strategy’s ongoing delivery.

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