GOVERNMENT officials and representatives from the logistics industry met at the ALC Supply Chain Summit to discuss the present and future of transport and logistics Australia.

The theme of this year’s summit, held this year in Melbourne, was “The Productivity Sustainability Paradox”. Presentations and discussions directly addressed the challenges and possibilities with maintaining both moving forward.

Key speakers for this year’s summit included Catherine King, federal minister for infrastructure and transport; Jim Betts, secretary for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts; and Bridget McKenzie, shadow minister for infrastructure transport & regional development.

Ms King’s opening address set the tone for the day’s discussions. Speaking less than two weeks after the release of the federal budget, she signposted the initiatives her department is undertaking to support sustainable logistics infrastructure.

“Logistics will underpin a transition to a net-zero future. Every part of my department is planning for net-zero” she said.

Ms King underlined the Albanese government’s commitment to improving infrastructure in the transport industry, highlighting examples such as having partnered with the Western Australian government on the Westport project – the future container port planned for WA.

Following Ms King was another member of her department, Secretary Jim Betts, who went into even further detail about sustainability management, and his team’s positive mindset in moving forward.

His presentation emphasised the importance of decarbonisation, the Australian Rail Track Corporation being rejuvenated under a new management, and emission reduction targets.

“If we don’t target emissions for light vehicles we can give up on the Paris Treaty” Mr Betts said, maintaining overtones of realism within his speech.

“You can see the logical jigsaw pieces fitting together where future governments will know where to focus investment.

“You have to think 50 years ahead with every decision,” Betts said, ending on a resolute note, admitting that whilst there is still plenty of work to be done, there is enough evidence there to be optimistic.

Senator McKenzie took to the stand with a direct, political address, relating more generally to the recent downturn in Australian economic security. She said she was “very, very stoked” the ALC was talking about productivity.

“It’s been going in the wrong direction for too long, and now with the economic situation our country facing, high inflation environment, interest rates going in the wrong direction, real wages going backwards … So to actually start having a serious conversation about how we can do more with less, is exactly what we need to be doing.

“The federal government should be taking every effort to make long-term productivity gains.”

She equated the federal government to being like an overly permissive parent by consistently lending money to state government projects that have gone over budget.

“My big takeout from the government’s budget was bailing out state projects that couldn’t get their act together,” she said.

Ms McKenzie then turned her attention to the role of Australia’s ports sector – many representatives of which were present in the room.

“I am absolutely convinced people don’t know how important ports are,” she said.

 Three panel sessions throughout the day explored the productivity-sustainability paradox, social responsibility in the global commercial landscape and striking the right balance between challenges and opportunities.

Another highlight of the day was the state of the supply chain keynote address from Michael Byrne, independent director and global strategic advisor, who asked delegates, “why do we think supply chains should be stable?”

 DCN will include a full round-up of the ALC Supply Chain Summit in the upcoming June magazine edition.