Feb 22, 2011

Public comments sought on transport vision

Public comments sought on transport vision

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

February 22 2011

Today I’ve released for public feedback the draft National Freight Strategy, a blueprint for a truly national, integrated and multimodal transport system capable of moving goods from point A to point B quickly, reliably and efficiently.

With freight volumes nationwide set to double between 2007 and 2030, there’s a clear and urgent need for national leadership and long term planning to make sure our transport infrastructure can cope with this much greater demand.

That’s why we commissioned Infrastructure Australia and the National Transport Commission (NTC) to develop the nation’s first ever National Freight Strategy setting out a long term program of reform and investment.

However such a strategy cannot be imposed unilaterally. Ultimately, it will only endure and deliver results when all governments and industry have signed up to its vision and the specific tasks required of them. For our part, the Strategy will assist in determining future priorities for Federal infrastructure investment.

In addition to giving the community a chance to have their say, Infrastructure Australia will continue working with state and territory authorities, councils and industry bodies to build a consensus for action before submitting the final Strategy to COAG for endorsement.

Together with the National Ports Strategy, the final National Freight Strategy will assist the Gillard Labor Government shape our nation’s economic future and lift long term productivity growth.

We cannot allow our quality of life and international competitiveness to again become the victims of poor planning and a lack of national leadership. We must avoid the bottlenecks at our ports and the capacity constraints on our roads and rail lines which cost the economy tens of billions of dollars in lost export earnings during the previous mining boom.

As well as planning for the future we’re also tending to the nation’s immediate infrastructure needs with our massive $37 billion Nation Building Program which amongst other things is currently 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 our success at building better roads, faster rail, and more efficient sea and air ports.

To obtain a copy of the draft Strategy and provide feedback on the direction, ideas and measures it’s proposing, go to: www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.

Submissions close at the end of April.

DRAFT NATIONAL FREIGHT STRATEGY: BRIEF SUMMARY

Based on the identified weaknesses with Australia’s existing infrastructure and regulatory regime, the draft Strategy proposes the following actions:

ONE NATIONAL, INTEGRATED SYSTEM

Identify the existing and yet-to-be built roads, rail lines, intermodals, ports and airports which will link together to form a workable, truly national freight network.

As part of this process, consideration would be given to opening up more roads to bigger vehicles, establishing dedicated freight routes and separating passenger trains from freight trains.

EFFECTIVE LOCAL PLANNING

Protect the network’s land corridors from urban encroachment and make sure they are not lost to other activities.

In the longer term, such preservation efforts will save money, ensure the timely delivery of new or upgraded infrastructure and minimise conflict within the local community.

LONG TERM, TARGETED FUNDING

Put in place a long term capital works program which prioritise projects of greatest strategic important and draws on the financial resources of both the public and private sectors.

The Strategy also highlights the benefits and cost-effectiveness of using new technology to get the most out of existing infrastructure.

SMARTER REGULATIONS

Reform the way our $61 billion transport industry is regulated, with the ultimate goal of replacing the existing state based arrangements with one set of nationwide laws.

Based on our work to date, national regulators for maritime safety, rail safety and heavy vehicles will be in place by the beginning of 2013.

MORE ACCOUNTABILITY

Implement improved data collection and establish benchmarks to monitor performance and make international comparisons.

KEY FREIGHT STATS:

  • Truck traffic on our roads is predicted to increase by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2030 – from 5.7 to 8.5 billion kilometres;
  • Rail freight is expected to increase 90 per cent between 2010 and 2030 – from 235 to 445 billion tonne kilometres;
  • Number of containers crossing the nation’s wharves will increase by 150 per cent between 2010 and 2030 – from 6.2 to 15.4 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU).
  • International air freight carried to or from Australia has more than doubled over the last twenty years and is expected to increase by almost 110 per cent between 2010 and 2030 – from 5.5 to 11.4 billion tonne kilometres.