Australian Logistics Council Dinner

Thank you Michael Kilgariff for your kind introduction.

I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which we meet; the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

It is great to be here tonight in my second week as the Leader of The Nationals, Deputy Prime Minister and of course the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

Having lived my whole life in regional Australia, the link between good infrastructure and economic growth is ingrained in my political thinking.

Getting goods to market in a timely and cost effective way can mark the difference between a business—particularly a farm-based business—that is doing well or a business that is stalling.

So for me, tonight is a great opportunity to catch up with the ‘who's who’ of this industry and to talk about what we together, government and industry, are doing to drive productivity in our freight and supply chains, to ensure we are creating jobs and delivering a strong national economy.

To the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and your board, congratulations on a fantastic event. I also recognise Bruce Baird is with us this evening. Over many years Bruce has contributed to this industry and indeed this city, and continues to provide leadership as Chair of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

I also want to acknowledge the contribution of the ALC to the infrastructure and transport policy debate and in particular the recent contributions which have been made to the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities.

As many of you know, the inquiry panel included two ALC Board members—Marika Calfas and Maurice James—who have been extremely busy reading over 127 submissions and meeting with 28 peak bodies and over 200 individuals.

The inquiry has benefited from the considered input of the ALC, including the submission titled ‘Freight Doesn't Vote’. Well it may not vote but rest assured on our side of politics, the Coalition knows only too well the jobs, economic activity and productivity that an efficient supply chain creates.

I look forward to receiving the final report soon which I expect to clearly outline themes you have focused on today in your panel discussions around integration, measurement, planning ahead, delivery and communication.

The report will be key to the development of a strategy I will consider with my State and Territory counterparts at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting in November this year.

We are doing this planning because we know the national freight task will double over the next 20 years. The freight task is growing because our economy is strong and it will continue to grow because of the strong economic and trade policies provided by the Coalition Government.

We are very proud to have significantly improved access to markets for Australian traders. Firstly through our ‘trifecta of trade deals’ with Japan, Korea and China. Secondly the deal with Peru.

And more recently concluding the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations—otherwise known as the TPP-11 agreement.

This agreement deliver better market opportunities for wheat, sugar, rice, beef, sheep meat, wine and industrial products into a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion.

The TPP-11 will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs into these markets.

It is a huge win for Australian farmers and businesses —who are reliant on moving freight to these markets efficiently and cost effectively—and a multi-billion dollar win for Australian jobs.

Your businesses form part of the fabric that holds together our economy, and in doing so collectively contributes almost 10 per cent to Gross Domestic Product and provides over one million jobs.

And that is why the Coalition Government is focused on delivering the infrastructure you need to be successful.

Through the 2017–18 Budget, the Government committed over $75 billion in transport infrastructure over ten years to 2026–27.

On average we are spending $7.2 billion per year, as opposed to an annual average of $6.5 billion for the last four years of the Labor Government.

You see, the opposition doesn't like to make note of the $18 billion we will provide over the next decade through financing and equity investment.

They don't like to consider the important contribution to logistics and supply chains which will be made through key investments like the: $5.3 billion for Western Sydney Airport; $370 million for Moorebank Intermodal; or the $9.1 billion we are investing into Inland Rail.

In addition to these nation building projects, we are also delivering over 510 major road and rail projects across Australia to future proof the national land transport network.

Our $5.6 billion investment in the Pacific Highway will provide a four lane divided road over 657 km from Newcastle to Queensland. The project is already saving lives through safety upgrades and town bypasses. Fatal crashes have halved from more than 40 each year to about 20 in recent years. But let me just say—one is too many. We still have work to do.

The Coalition's 10-year, $6.7 billion investment in the Bruce Highway will future proof the corridor from floods and make it safer by providing additional overtaking lanes, rest areas and new bridges.

And it is not all about roads, it is of course the right mode for the right load.

In rail we have announced a $10 billion national rail program which will deliver major enhancement to the national freight rail network in addition to the Inland Rail.

Our Government has delivered efficiency in rail through our $252 million to enhance capacity on Australian Rail Track Corporation's Adelaide to Tarcoola network and we are funding more than half of the $440 million standardisation and upgrade of freight rail infrastructure across the Murray Basin in Victoria.

Across the north of Australia, we are investing $100 million in the Beef Roads Program targeting upgrades to key transport corridors.

And there is a further $100 million for the Outback Way which runs from Winton in Queensland through the Northern Territory, to Laverton in Western Australia. It will improve connectivity and road reliability, reduce travel times, cut costs for freight operators and enhance economic opportunities for the cattle, mining and tourism industries.

The Government is also continuing to deliver and lock-in critical productivity and road safety programs, including Roads to Recovery, Blackspot Programs, Bridges Renewal and Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity.

In the 2016–17 Budget we committed to extend the Roads to Recovery Program, and to provide a further $50 million per annum from 2019–20 onwards, bringing the annual commitment to $400 million.

The Coalition has also provided a long-term commitment to the Bridges Renewal Program and the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, which by 2021–22 we will have spent around $750 million on projects that improve safety and reliability for road transport operators.

Altogether, across Australia, the Coalition Government has overseen the completion of more than 17,000 individual land transport projects.

I also want to make mention of Inland Rail.

I am proud to be overseeing its delivery—creating a corridor of commerce through regional Australia and making a direct contribution to the future freight challenge.

However, when a project becomes part of the political discourse—and our default description of this one is ‘Melbourne to Brisbane’ Inland Rail—it is easy to forget the sheer scale of this infrastructure.

It is not just the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail. It will form the spine of the national rail system—a century after the development of the Trans-Australian Railway.

The Trans-Australian is operated by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and carries around 80 per cent of the freight travelling East-to-West in Australia. 1

The Inland Rail will allow freight volumes of that magnitude to be replicated on rail from Melbourne to Brisbane. The Inland Rail is 1700 kilometres long, but reduces the rail distance between Brisbane and Melbourne by 200 kilometres, and will also reduce the distance between Brisbane and Perth by around 500 kilometres.

I want to be very clear—only the Coalition Government has the vision to invest in the Inland Rail.

It will deliver more than $16 billion to the economy, while delivering freight infrastructure that has a useful life far into the next century.

In the long-term, complementary infrastructure will be needed to capitalise on Inland Rail.

You, in the private sector will provide some of that, such as the $35 million intermodal terminal Pacific National have announced they will build in Parkes and the $25 million Interlink-SQ has invested in developing an intermodal terminal in Toowoomba.

In closing, I would like to again thank you for inviting me to address you tonight.

Particularly in this magnificent venue—the Royal Randwick Racecourse. You must have believed the media reports that I am a keen student of racing history!

I am pleased to be here, to acknowledge the sterling work of the ALC and introduce myself to the wider industry as the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

I wish you well with the remainder of this evening.