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Call for more HPVs in north Queensland

Mt-Isa-Townsville infrastructure report highlights need for intermodal coordination and a better road freight approach

July 11, 2012

The nature of the east-west transport planning process in north Queensland is holding the region back, according to a new report.

And the solution might be the introduction of a coordinator similar to that in operation in the Hunter Valley and with power over road infrastructure and regulation.

The report on the supply-chain issues relating to the Mt Isa to Townsville Economic Zone (MITEZ) – the MITEZ 50-Year Freight Infrastructure Plan – was finished in May but has just been released.

Submissions to it advise that coordination is a crucial need and the report judges the coordinator-general’s office as having failed due to the piecemeal nature of its work in the region.

“There is significant fragmentation of and lack of transparent information across the many different stakeholder in the supply chain and between transport modes and this is constraining the overall efficiency of the supply chain,” a key finding states.

It advises that the Hunter Valley’s independent coal chain coordination model be used as a template to sort out the shortcomings.

While much of the report’s focus is on mining, more road-centric issues were also mentioned.

It calls for a coordinator role to be created, tasked with setting up a seamless road/rail/port intermodal masterplan that tackles the challenges “commodity by commodity”.

“For livestock in particular, the move away from transport by rail towards an overwhelming reliance on increased heavy road transport that has been seen over the past decades, should be reflected in a commensurate targeting of efficient road infrastructure for this task,” the report says.

This holds for the short term through to the long term.

Among the recommendations was backing for use of “much higher productivity vehicles, operating under third-party access arrangements, most likely in a ‘hub and spoke’ task to the Port of Townsville itself or to loading points along the Mount Isa rail corridor.

“This should be enacted “by calling for commercial trials of such operations, coordinated with the Transport and Main Roads Queensland and auspiced [sic] by Infrastructure Australia, which is leading policy reform in this field.”

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese praised the report and pledges financial backing for its recommendations linked to the mining tax.

“Indeed, we will use monies raised by our new mining tax to assist in turning the plan’s aspirations into reality,” he says.

“Specifically, we will provide almost $1.7 million to fund the appointment of a supply chain coordinator.”

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