Strengthening our supply chains must be new government’s priority

It is pleasing that infrastructure was a centrepiece of the election campaign. Both the Government and Opposition reaffirmed funding for a range of projects to improve the movement of freight, such as the Port Botany rail link, inland rail and a number of important road projects in our major cities to address rising congestion.

The next three years will be critical to deliver on these election commitments and to progress a number of key reforms to improve the efficiency of our national supply chains.

In light of this, during the election campaign ALC released our six point plan to improve Australia’s supply chains, ‘Getting the Supply Chain Right’.

ALC is encouraging the incoming government to make supply chain efficiency and safety a priority by acting on six key areas of reform.

These are:
• Getting the Structure Right
• Getting Planning Right
• Getting Rail Right
• Getting Road Pricing Right
• Getting Road Safety Right
• Getting Technology Right

Chief among these is ensuring Infrastructure Australia has the resources necessary to develop a comprehensive National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to underpin future actions and reforms across the logistics industry.

Without a Strategy that accurately identifies our major freight generating points, their key freight routes, and their efficient connections to markets or places of export, we are effectively flying blind.

Infrastructure Australia needs to guide the development of a long-term plan that incorporates the various, interlinked components of our national and international supply chains.

This Strategy should also assess the institutional framework supporting these freight networks, and recommend reforms and investments that will move the efficient movement of freight.

As a first step, ALC wants the incoming government to appropriately fund Infrastructure Australia to review the National Land Freight Strategy so it may ‘audit’ how well jurisdictions have implemented the existing agreement.

Another area where federal leadership is required is the establishment of effective corridor protection mechanisms to ensure the timely preservation of freight corridors and strategic sites for future infrastructure. This may, for example, involve the provision of incentive payments to encourage the states and territories to ensure they have appropriate planning regimes in place to protect key freight corridors for the long term.

Road safety is another area of concern.

Despite some encouraging trends, official government figures show that there needs to be a greater effort to improve heavy vehicle safety and compliance.

The latest heavy vehicle fatality report from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows fatal crashes involving articulated trucks decreased by an average of 4.4 per cent per year over the three years to March 2016.

‘Getting the Supply Chain Right’ proposes a number of measures to continue this downward trend.

The first of these is mandating the uptake of heavy vehicle technology that can capture data (such as speeding and fatigue) for compliance purposes to make our roads safer.

The second is making road operators meet a national operating standard that requires a heavy vehicle operator to have in place both the financial capacity to operate a business and a uniform safety management system to ensure that Australia’s roads remain safe.  

The third is ensuring funds allocated to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator from the decommissioned Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal remain with the NHVR.

Industry simply cannot afford the re-establishment of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, or a body similar to it, which research has shown delivers no safety benefits.

ALC will continue to advocate that improving safety in the heavy vehicle industry must be based on achieving greater compliance and enforcement of Chain of Responsibility provisions within the Heavy Vehicle National Law. 

ALC looks forward to working with the new government on these six areas, which are critical to ensuring Australia has appropriate national regulation and infrastructure in place to meet Australia’s future freight challenges.

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