The recent ALC Summit in Brisbane has allowed the ALC and other leading freight members to call for key freight strategy changes to prevent main challenges facing the logistics industry
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) is calling for serious problems across Australia’s supply chains to be addressed with an updated national freight strategy to ensure economic competitiveness and avoid significant costs for consumers, according to the leaders of the nation’s major logistics companies.
The ALC’s Supply Chain Summit in Brisbane has called for an urgent review of Australia’s national freight strategy, wanting harmonised state border freight regulations and for major infrastructure projects to be connected to freight distribution points.
“The freight logistics industry kept Australia supplied during COVID, despite severe impediments,” ALC CEO Hermione Parsons.
“Now we are facing ongoing increases in global supply chain costs, rising fuel costs, a need to decarbonise, skilled workforce shortages and significant impacts from climate change and shortcomings in infrastructure planning.
“Freight costs increased substantially during COVID and export and import air and sea freight will remain at least double 2019 prices for the foreseeable future. Transport costs directly hit the cost of living and, if they are not addressed, every Australian will pay the price.”
Opening the summit, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Catherine King warned that “we can see an ever-growing list of supply chain challenges on the horizon, particularly when you consider the effects of climate change”.
Essential freight routes had been neglected for too long, she says, and it was startling that “the critical freight routes that cross our continent are incredibly vulnerable” with many rated at high risk from climate change.
“We need to deliver better connectivity, better productivity and greater resilience,” King says.
CEO of logistics giant QUBE Holdings Paul Digney says it’s vital to act now to ensure the resilience of supply chains and refresh the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, “to ensure it is fit for the future, and acting to address gaps in infrastructure”.
Linfox Logistics CEO Mark Mazurek says “for Australian supply chains to succeed in the global marketplace amidst rising fuel costs, we must prioritize the interconnectivity of critical hard and soft infrastructure”.
Parsons says the pandemic had demonstrated that every business and every home is critically reliant on supply chains.
“During Covid, truck drivers spent countless hours stopped at state borders, then had to deal with a myriad of local regulations, and while curfews were removed, they are now coming back,” she says.
“A new freight strategy should outline the harmonisation of regulations across state and local government borders.
“The industry stands ready to work with the government and build an even stronger partnership to ensure a new freight strategy enables more efficient supply chains which can drive Australia’s economy into the future.
“Infrastructure planning was raised as a big issue in the last freight strategy in 2019 but little has improved. Inland Rail’s freight terminals in Melbourne and Brisbane should have been determined when the project began, we are still waiting, and now there are questions over funding.
“With decarbonisation essential, rail is more important than ever, we need the Government to finalise plans for Brisbane and prioritise developing Truganina and Beveridge in Melbourne.”
The summit also urged that industrial land critical for freight logistics be protected from urban encroachment.
“We also need to protect freight corridors connecting importers and exporters with air and sea ports, freight rail terminals and distribution centres,” Parsons says.
The ALC CEO says the amount of protected, vacant industrial land in Australian cities was the lowest in the world and falling. The proportion of Sydney’s vacant industrial land has fallen to 0.3 per cent, Melbourne’s 1.1, and the global average is 2.7.
“Land scarcity is forcing logistics facilities further away from transport routes meaning more trips, emissions and higher costs,” she says.
“The volume of Australia’s urban freight is projected to grow by 60 per cent by 2040. We cannot grow our economy without having industrial land in the right place, with the right infrastructure to enable it.”