Laying the foundation for better freight networks

2018 has already witnessed several key milestones on the journey towards the development of Australia’s first-ever comprehensive Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

These have included two days of industry discussion and debate at ALC Forum 2018 in March, which allowed industry participants to consider the next stage of the Strategy’s progress, moving beyond considering what it needs to contain and addressing the more complex question of how it can best be implemented.

This was followed by the inaugural ALC Supply Chain Technology Summit, held in Melbourne during May.

The Summit permitted a detailed focus on how technology and data are rapidly transforming the way this industry operates, and identified opportunities to enhance both the quantity and quality of data available to drive enhance supply chain efficiency and safety.
The month of May also saw the release of the Final Report of the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities, which identified key actions required to develop an effective Strategy, and set out recommendations across a number of critical action areas that will need to be pursued if Australia is going to meet its growing freight task.

At the meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) in Darwin on 18 May, Commonwealth, state and territory Ministers agreed to work together to develop the Strategy, for presentation to the TIC meeting scheduled for May 2019.

In the lead up to that time, ALC will continue to play its role as an industry leader in ensuring the momentum continues, and the Strategy that emerges is one that effectively addresses the needs of the industry.
As part of that effort, on 27 June, ALC released Laying The Foundation – the first in a series of discussion papers designed to ensure the Strategy is implemented effectively.

The discussion paper was released during ALC’s annual Parliamentary Event, with Federal Ministers, Shadow Ministers and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum in attendance.
Laying The Foundation matches outcomes from both ALC Forum 2018 and the ALC Supply Chain Technology Summit to industry priorities set out in the Inquiry Report.

As a result, ALC has identified nine specific actions the Federal Government can pursue immediately, ahead of the release of the Strategy in May 2019.
Undertaking this preparatory work now will ultimately allow the Strategy to be implemented more effectively upon its  completion.

From a heavy vehicle perspective, Laying The Foundation makes several notable  recommendations.

The first of these is to commission an independent review of the rules around over size and over mass (OSOM) vehicle movements, and identifying opportunities to streamline the approvals system.

OSOM vehicles are commonplace in some of Australia’s most important export industries, including the mining/resources and agricultural sectors, as well as in construction. Significant delays to the movement of goods and equipment in these sectors are having a deleterious impact on Australia’s overall economic  performance.

This will ensure regulations are focussed on achieving outcomes, and allow industry participants to take advantage of rapid improvements in aircraft noise  technology.

Laying the Foundation also urges the Federal Government to bring forward the proposed 2019 Productivity Commission review of road and rail operating frameworks to this year, with a focus on productivity, harmonisation of standards, safety and regulation.
As part of this review, ALC also recommends that the Government specifically request the Productivity Commission to examine mandatory telematics and National Operating Standards as part of this review.

These measures will not only enhance productivity, but will also be important to achieve better safety outcomes throughout the industry.

Finally, the discussion paper also places a heavy emphasis on enhancing the quantity and quality of data available to measure and manage supply chain  performance.
The most important of these is establishing a data gathering and performance review mechanism that measures and reports the performance of key freight routes and interfaces at freight terminals.
This will make it easier to identify the pinch-points in our freight networks, allowing better-targeted infrastructure investment that will help improve supply chain efficiency and safety.

Michael Kilgariff
Managing Director
Australian Logistics Council

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