NSW Libs vow to fix freight crisis

Coalition says it will “take the politics out” of planning and delivery of NSW's urgent freight industry needs

By Anna Game-Lopata | March 11, 2011

NSW Shadow Minister for Roads and Ports Andrew Stoner says a coalition government will "take the politics out" of planning and delivery of the state’s urgent freight industry needs.

Stoner tells SupplyChain Review the NSW Liberals & Nationals understand the critical importance of trade to the state economy.

"In government we will seek to maximise this through improvements to freight efficiency," Stoner says.

"A NSW Liberals & Nationals government will establish Restart NSW, a dedicated infrastructure fund that will help clear congestion on our roads by committing as much as $5 billion to infrastructure projects, over and above the current capital forward estimates.

"The fund will have a specific mandate to grow economic productivity in NSW and a clear goal of lifting NSW economic growth to above the national average."

Stoner also points to the coalition’s proposal for a new, independently chaired body called
Infrastructure NSW.

"Infrastructure NSW will ensure our state’s infrastructure is delivered on the basis of need, expert advice and world’s best practice – and not according to political agendas," Stoner says.

In relation to investment in freight rail infrastructure and in public and active transport in NSW, the NSW Liberals & Nationals also plan for an Integrated Transport Authority (ITA).

"This will ensure there is co-ordination between the transport modes and deliver major transport infrastructure projects in the short, medium and long term," Stoner says.

The ITA will be oversighted by an independent board to ensure major projects are delivered on time and on budget.
It will also ensure a central focal point for freight rail.

Stoner says a NSW Liberals & Nationals are determined to partner with local government to improve the infrastructure in local communities.

"Unlike the Keneally Labor Government, who for 16 years has regarded local Government as the poor cousin and pushed more and more responsibility on to it without providing the necessary funding, a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will unlock up to $1 billion in funds for local councils to upgrade local infrastructure."

"This funding will assist local governments in solving the ‘last mile’ / ‘first mile’ problem," he says.

"We will work constructively with stakeholders so the funds for local councils can be used to solve the current issue of the lack of connectivity between supply points and arterial road networks for Higher Mass Limit vehicles.

"A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will inject an extra $200 million into the roads capital works budget specifically to improve road safety by fixing black spots and reducing congestion.

Commitments already include $750,000 towards the upgrade of Burraway Road in Brocklehurst.

"This will see the widening of the Burraway Road and the Newell Highway intersection to allow road train access to transport depots on the western side of the highway and to allow B-Double access down to the quarry near the Talbragar River on the eastern side of the highway – practical action," Stoner says.

"Furthermore, as part of our plan to get freight to our ports, a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will fast-track the widening of the M5 West.

"We will commence one of Sydney’s major missing road links – M5 East duplication, M4 East or the F3-M2 Link – in our first term of Government, with the appropriate project to be identified by Infrastructure NSW.

"These much needed and long overdue upgrades will allow for increased economic activity in the region while also making it safer for cars and trucks to transport their produce effectively, reliably and safely.

"We will also begin construction on the North-West and South-West rail links in our first term of Government, which will increase the number of people using public transport and reduce congestion by taking cars off our roads.

Stoner says infrastructure is central to driving economic growth, yet NSW is facing an infrastructure crisis.

"Whether it is roads, ports, rail, hospitals, schools or utilities, people in NSW deserve better.

"We understand the extent to which the NSW Labor Government has failed to deliver an effective freight transport system across New South Wales.

"Its failure to manage landside issues at Port Botany has had detrimental effects on industry and the State’s economy.

"With trade through Port Botany continuing to grow, we need to ensure commonsense solutions are put in place to ease congestion and improve turnaround times for trucks at Port Botany.

"In order to improve operations and meet the challenges of an increase in freight demand, a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will work with all users to continue the reform program at Port Botany."

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