NSW freight strategy goes to ground

The NSW election has further stalled the delivery of the state’s draft freight strategy which had been due for release at the end of last year

NSW freight strategy goes to ground
NSW freight strategy goes to ground

By Anna Game-Lopata | March 11, 2011

The NSW election has further stalled the delivery of the state’s draft freight strategy which had been due for release at the end of last year

A highly placed industry spokesperson, who
preferred to remain anonymous, tells SupplyChain Review that it’s most likely "clever bureaucrats" in NSW
have chosen to shelve the draft until the result of the election is known.

"Many work hours have been lost and many a good strategy document wasted when a new government comes in and ditches it," the spokesperson says.

"It’s probably wiser to wait until the election is over to see how the new government will want to proceed.

"This probably indicates a belief that there will be a change of government," the spokesperson adds.

NSW is currently the only eastern state without a freight strategy.

Given the expected tripling of freight transport requirements over the next twenty years and the rise in containers through Sydney Ports alone, of more than 8 percent last year this is clearly of great concern.

Sydneysiders are well acquainted with congestion, so it’s understandable government proposals
to develop intermodal hubs at Enfield and Moorebank have met with some alarm, though such improvements would be of benefit to industry.

Transport Minister John Robertson last year put together the NSW Freight Advisory Council to provide an industry
"sounding board"
for the development of the NSW Freight Strategy.

However a meeting with the Council early in February to consider the draft strategy was cancelled since the document wasn’t ready.

The Robertson government has confirmed the draft won’t be complete in time for the election.

However a spokesperson for Transport NSW, currently in "care-taker mode" says the 25 year Freight Strategy for NSW will focus on improving the planning controls for freight infrastructure.

"It will also help facilitate developments such as intermodal freight terminals that are supported by efficient transport connections and nearby complementary industry and commercial premises," the spokesperson says.

"It will provide a strategic framework and short, medium and long term priorities to improve freight movement and inform Government and private sector investment decisions."

According to the spokesperson, Transport NSW is currently "fine-tuning" the strategy to ensure its objectives align with the National Ports Strategy released in January, and the Metropolitan Plan for Sydney.

"The strategy will then be provided to the Freight Advisory Council for consideration and feedback before being released."

In other words, the process is on hold until after the election.

SupplyChain Review was unable to gain comment from the NSW Freight Advisory Council about the progress of the NSW Freight strategy.

Like other freight councils around the country it is awaiting June 30 for news of its funding from the federal government that will enable it to continue its work.

Early in the new financial year, the new government of NSW will have to make a decision about whether it will match funding offered by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to put a NSW Freight Advisory Council on the map.

According to NSW Shadow Minister for Roads and Ports Andrew Stoner, the coalition is "following the work of the NSW Freight Advisory Council closely and will examine the (NSW Freight) strategy once it has been developed."

On the future of the Council, Stoner says: "We are open to advice on how to ensure the concerns of the freight industry are best put to our independent body Infrastructure NSW."

So it looks like the NSW Freight Strategy may live to see the light of day. But you never can tell until the last vote is counted.

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