A new nationally integrated approach to freight and supply chains

Australian transport ministers today agreed to the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, positioning Australia to meet unprecedented freight and supply chain demands over the next 20 years.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Strategy and its associated National Action Plan, developed by all Australian governments with extensive industry input, will integrate the different transport modes for the first time.

“Australian freight supply chains get petrol to our service stations, fresh food to our supermarket shelves, waste to the tip, construction materials to building sites and essential pharmaceuticals to our hospitals – delivering about 163 tonnes of freight per person around the country each year,” Mr McCormack said.

“With our freight volumes expected to grow by more than a third by 2040 and online shopping growth at over 20 per cent a year, we need to increase the productivity of our freight system. At the same time, we have to plan for and manage the introduction of new technologies and risks from increasing natural disasters, such as the devastating floods in Queensland last year.

“To meet these challenges, the Strategy commits to national action in four critical areas: smarter and targeted infrastructure investment; improving supply chain efficiency; better planning, coordination and regulation; and better freight location and performance data.

“The Strategy’s governance arrangements provide a mechanism to ratchet up action and ambition from all governments and industry over time in order to lift the performance of the freight system. Jurisdictions will report back to the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council in November with their implementation arrangements for delivering the Strategy.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the success of the Strategy would rely on the ability of governments and industry to work together during its implementation.

“All Australian governments recognise that freight is the lifeblood of the Australian economy. Our challenge now is to turn the Strategy’s vision for Australia’s freight and supply chains into a reality,” Mr Buchholz said.

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Gee said the Action Plan shows, for the first time, the extensive and collaborative action we are taking to improve our national freight system.

“It showcases the extensive contributions the Australian Government is making, such as the $4.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, $32 million to improve agricultural export systems and $5.2 million to settle the design of a National Freight Data Hub,” Mr Gee said.

These commitments complement joint investments in partnership with state and territory governments, including the NSW Government’s $200 million funding for flood immunity improvements on the Newell Highway to go with the Australian Government’s $400 million commitment to upgrade the highway, and the Victorian Government’s $15.8 billion North East Link, to which the Australian Government has committed up to $1.75 billion.

The Australian Government has also committed up to $4.5 billion toward Adelaide’s North-South Corridor, with the South Australian Government committing a further $3 billion.

The Expert Panel commissioned by the Government in March 2017 to lead an inquiry into national freight and supply chain priorities have expressed their support for the Strategy and Action Plan.

“For the first time Australia is taking a truly comprehensive national approach to freight covering all modes,” panel member and Executive Chairman of Simon National Carriers David Simon said.

Chief Executive of NSW Ports Marika Calfas said she was pleased to see the commitment to keep industry engaged throughout the Strategy’s ongoing delivery.