Trucking will benefit from council mergers, ALC says


ALC says amalgamating local governments will improve consistency on road access decisions.

Trucking will benefit from council mergers, ALC says
New South Wales premier Mike Baird.

 

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has lined up behind New South Wales premier Mike Baird’s proposal for councils to amalgamate, saying fewer local governments will benefit the trucking industry.

ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff welcomed Baird’s pro-amalgamation comments made at this week’s Local Government NSW Conference and the financial incentives on offer to councils that merge.

Local governments are responsible for almost 90 per cent of the NSW road network.

"Merging councils would not only bring with it economies of scale, it would help to deliver more ‘joined up thinking’ on such matters as road access decisions, planning and curfews," Kilgariff says.

"All too often, and to the frustration of industry, councils take different approaches to such things as heavy vehicle access, the loading and unloading of goods and other restrictions which impact on the efficient movement of freight."

Kilgariff has referred to a recent Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report to press the case for mergers.

IPART says councils do not have the capacity to make prompt decisions on heavy vehicle road access or are being too conservative when making decisions due to concerns about protecting road infrastructure assets.

Its report says heavy vehicle restrictions are costing $366 million per year in NSW and that improving road access can reduce red tape by $59.2 million annually.

"Because of a lack of size, many local government areas do not have the skills and resources, or alternatively, do not prioritise the task of undertaking, or obtaining, the engineering assessments necessary to make informed road access decisions," Kilgariff says.

"The logistics industry would support any steps, such as amalgamations, to enhance councils’ ability to make better decisions in regards to heavy vehicle access, particularly as they relate to ‘first and last mile’ issues."

There are 152 councils in NSW.

The NSW Government last month announced $258 million in incentives for local governments to merge. Of that figure, $153 million will go to Sydney councils and $105 million will go to regional councils.

Baird says more than 33 per cent of councils are facing financial problems and losing more than $1 million a day.

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