WA rural transporters hope for comprehensive strategy

LRTAWA welcomes recognition of supply chain connections

WA rural transporters hope for comprehensive strategy
Rita Saffioti has emphasised the need for rural supply chain eficiency


Western Australia’s rural transport industry has reacted positively to the state government’s Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy initiative.

Announced by transport and planning minister Rita Saffioti and agriculture minister Alannah MacTiernan, a former WA transport minister, The strategy is to be developed by a multi-agency team with representatives from the Department of Transport, Main Roads Western Australia, Public Transport Authority and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

"The team will engage with external stakeholders throughout various stages of the process to ensure that the entire supply chain is addressed," the government says.

It adds that specific "infrastructure upgrades, technological solutions and policy measures that will enhance road safety and freight transport productivity will be identified and prioritised in the strategy.

 "The strategy will provide the context for business cases to be developed for road, rail, intermodal and port projects for the next 10 years, which will facilitate freight productivity improvements and assist in better positioning WA's key regional agricultural supply chains for future growth."

Livestock and Rural Transport Association of WA (LRTAWA) president Stephen Marley points out that the industry had been calling for a strategic approach to regional freight for some time.

"Our members are keen to see a plan that recognises the unique challenges of rural transport as well as the economic benefit to be obtained from an efficient network," Marley says.

"It was pleasing to see a focus in the ministers’ announcement on the connection between supply chain efficiency, international competitiveness and economic growth.

"Too often road investment and access decisions are based on the short term financial capacity of the asset owner rather than the big picture of satisfying the demand of our customers, which for rural commodities, are usually international clients.

"One of the biggest barriers to efficiency is the lack of connectivity across the network which often reduces a carrier’s ability to gain maximum benefit from a higher productivity vehicle because road owners have restricted access to sections of the freight corridor.

"This results in higher costs to the grower, more vehicle movements and less productivity overall."

Marley hopes the consultative process would enable a review of the proposed ‘project area’, which, at this point, does not include the urban fringe and the South West.

Areas of concern for the LRTAWA include:

  • the lack of access for certain vehicle types from regional areas into and around Fremantle and Kwinana.
  • a need to be as forward thinking as possible, 10 years at least, given significant amount of lime is transported from the South West into agricultural regions, grain is transported to Bunbury and there are meat processors and a saleyard in the area as well
  • land use planning that is sympathetic to major transport corridors from rural to urban areas is critical to future proofing the network and it is hoped this will form a major part of the strategy.
  • a significant element of time criticality for some rural inputs. For example, the majority of lime transport occurs over a short period in preparation for seeding.
  • restrictions on road access during this small window can have a significant impact on the agricultural sector’s ability to get product when it needs it and these types of issues need to be addressed by a freight strategy.

"Improving transport efficiency across the supply chains that agriculture relies on to get products to global markets can contribute to reduced costs, and enhance the national and international competitiveness of WA products," Saffioti says.

The international dimension is picked up by MacTiernan.

"With increased competition from Black Sea grain, our growers need an efficient freight network to remain internationally competitive," she says.

"An effective regional freight transport network is critical for the long-term economic development of Western Australia." 


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