Dinner Address: Australian Logistics Council Industry Parliamentary Dinner

Speech

WTS011/2015

24 June 2015

Parliament House, Canberra

Thank you very much, Michael [Kilgarriff—CEO, Australian Logistics Council].

Welcome everyone. The Prime Minister has asked me to convey his regrets that he could not be with you this evening.

As you know, he has a strong personal interest in the logistics sector.

And he has a great commitment to developing the transport and other infrastructure needed for the logistics sector to prosper and help drive productivity and national economic growth.

Australia's logistical challenges are, of course, very significant.

A now well-known estimate from the research arm of my Department projects that Australia's total freight task will grow by 80 per cent between 2010 and 2030.

So if we did nothing to develop our infrastructure, by 2030 every Australian business would operate in a much more crowded and much less productive space.

And this country's prospects would be undermined.

So the Government has dug deep—in every sense—to ensure Australia's infrastructure is up to the demands of coming decades.

We made a record $50 billion commitment to infrastructure in 2014. A further $1 billion was added this week with the extra funding going into the Roads to Recovery programme over the next two years. This will bring the $1 billion the amount of funding available to councils for local roads and streets in each of 2015–16 and 2016–17.

And we deepened this commitment in the 2015 Federal Budget with our decisions to allocate:

  • $5 billion for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility—to provide loans for infrastructure projects; and
  • a further $700 million for roads in the Northern Australia White Paper, including $100 million for the Beef Roads Fund.

It is very obvious that developing the north will create great challenges and opportunities for all of us—and perhaps particularly for everyone in this room!

The challenges of northern development will require all of us to be open to new approaches and new ideas.

This includes new approaches to how we, as a nation, manage our logistical challenges, and a willingness to recognise the benefits of all transport modes.

So I was particularly interested in Michael's [Kilgarriff] comments about rail last week.

He said that: ‘There are many reasons why businesses don’t recognise the potential benefits of moving their products by rail, however, supply chain efficiency can be impacted as a result'.

The onus is clearly on rail operators to sell rail's benefits—and on rail's potential customers to be receptive to them.

In Sydney, the deal agreed by our Moorebank Intermodal Company with the Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance to develop an intermodal logistics hub will reduce cost and improve the efficiency of freight moving between Port Botany and markets in Sydney and interstate.

I was also pleased for the Logistics Council support for the Inland Rail project between Melbourne and Brisbane, and the Australian Rail Track Corporation's efforts to highlight the benefits of rail freight through the new ‘See rail in a new light’ advertising campaign.

The Government sees the Inland Rail project as indispensable to improving the logistics chain by lifting rail's economic contribution into the late 21st century and meeting growing freight demand.

Inland Rail will improve productivity by providing an efficient freight connection between Brisbane and Melbourne.

It will allow rail freight to benefit from the greater productivity and falling prices that Australian container ports continue to demonstrate. We will continue to urge State and Territory governments to pass these benefits on to port customers to avoid ceding business to other jurisdictions.

Inland Rail will enable rail freight to avoid congestion through Sydney and substantially improve the rail connection between Perth, Adelaide and south-east Queensland.

These are very compelling reasons for building the Inland Rail—and that's why the Coalition Government made a $300 million commitment to get the project underway.

Pre-construction is well advanced and the Implementation Group, chaired by my distinguished predecessor the Hon John Anderson, will submit a delivery plan and business case for Inland Rail soon [mid-2015].

This will enable the Government to schedule further construction funding to deliver the project over the next decade, in addition to our existing $300 million commitment.

Inland Rail is a project this Government is fundamentally wedded to—it is the linchpin in driving productivity growth through freight infrastructure to meet the opportunities of the Asian Century. It will go a long way to ensuring that Australia has the logistical muscle and infrastructure backbone needed for decades ahead.

I won't take up any more of your time. It is very good to be with you and I look forward to talking with throughout the evening.

Thank you.