Sep 7, 2012

A roadmap to higher productivity and greater prosperity

Today I’ve released the nation’s first ever National Land Freight Strategy, a long term blueprint for a streamlined, integrated and multimodal transport system capable of moving goods into and out of major ports and around our country quickly, reliably and at the lowest cost.

Developed by Infrastructure Australia with extensive input from the National Transport Commission, industry as well as state and territory authorities, it will now be up to the nation’s Infrastructure and Transport Ministers to work together to develop an action plan for turning the Strategy’s vision into a reality.

Our freight and logistics network is the lifeblood of the Australian economy.  But at present it is struggling to cope with the existing demands being placed on it, let alone the doubling in freight volumes expected between now and 2030.

Release of the Strategy gives us a unique opportunity to fix the regulatory and infrastructure failures which have to some extent held our miners, manufacturers and farmers back and cost the Australian economy tens of billions of dollars in lost export earnings.

Quite simply our aim is to build and maintain a modern, well-planned, efficient and safe freight and logistics network that supports rather than hinders Australia’s future economic development.

The Strategy is underpinned be a number of key principles:

  1. One national, integrated network: Replacing fragmented, ad hoc decision-making with a proper, long term planning approach that identifies the existing and yet-to-be built roads, rail lines, intermodals, ports and airports which together form a workable, truly national freight network.
    This process would endeavour to protect current and future transport corridors and other strategic pieces of land from urban encroachment.
  2. Better use of our existing infrastructure: Over the long term it will be far smarter and cheaper to get the most out of our existing infrastructure than to always build anew.
    In practice this could mean fitting new technology to improve traffic flows along major motorways, using higher productivity vehicles, creating dedicated freight routes and separating passenger trains from freight trains.
  3. Fairer, more sustainable financing arrangements: While in recent years there’s been a surge in spending on the nation’s roads (up 50 per cent), railways (up 118 per cent) and ports (up 305 per cent), building and maintaining a network fit for purpose requires mechanisms for ensuring the right investment occurs in the right place at the right time.

Together with the National Ports Strategy – which all the State and Territory Governments have now signed up to – the National Land Freight Strategy provides the roadmap our nation needs in order to lift productivity and stay internationally competitive.

As well as planning for the future, Federal Labor is also tending to the nation’s immediate infrastructure needs with our massive $36 billion Nation Building Program which amongst other things is rebuilding more than a third of the Interstate Rail Freight Network.

In the globalised world of the 21st Century, the prices consumers pay, the profits businesses make and the export income Australia earns will more than ever depend on having better, less congested roads, faster, more reliable railways and modern, efficient sea and air ports.

And unlike our predecessors, Federal Labor knows governments have a role in making sure this happens.  Indeed, our future prosperity depends on it.

To obtain a full copy of the Strategy, go to: www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.