Curfew backflip curbs Victorian freight initiative

Smart Freight Partnership all but collapses amid ‘broken promises’

Curfew backflip curbs Victorian freight initiative
Anderson (left) and Wurt


A Victorian clean freight initiative is on the brink, with one of its proponents walking away from the agreement, citing "broken government promises and continuing inaction".

The Smart Freight Partnership – Inner West (SFPIW), announced in mid-2019, was agreed on after an 18-month negotiation involving the Victorian government, VicRoads, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) and the Maribyrnong City Council.

The key tenet of the initiative was an Environmental Freight Zone comprising curfews to incentivise cleaner trucks on five key freight routes in Melbourne’s inner-west. 

More on the original details of the agreement, here

While the government outlines the action points it is implementing, its backflip on the pre-Euro 5 truck curfew has left the VTA and MTAG wanting.

A transport department spokesperson says the government is proceeding with the following:

  • speed reductions to 50km/h on Williamstown Road, Francis Street, Moore Street and Buckley Street
  • road resurfacing to improve safety and reduce truck noise on Williamstown Road
  • funding for pedestrian safety barriers at the Francis Street/Wembley Avenue intersection, near Wembley Primary School and the intersection of Napier Street/Hyde Street near Footscray City Primary School.

"We have worked with the community and industry to reduce the impact of trucks in the inner west in a carefully planned way while keeping freight moving," the spokesperson says.

"We’ve spent more than a year working with the community through the Smart Freight Initiative, as a result we’ve implemented initiatives on inner west roads including speed reductions, pedestrian safety improvements and measures to reduce truck noise."

The spokesperson adds the department is continuing to look at ways to reduce the impacts of freight movement through the inner west and deliver the best possible outcome for local communities.

However, MTAG president Martin Wurt says in a statement that his association is pulling out of the agreement in protest of the key omission on basic pollution emission controls, alluding to the solution already being in the "actual agreement between old adversaries".

"We really do have a third-world freight industry and the government has squandered a unique opportunity to address this problem," Wurt says.

"When the Government announced the SFPIW in July, promised curfews for Williamstown Road and Buckley Street were omitted.

 "These curfews were crucial to the cleaner freight zone and, without them, plans to incentivise cleaner trucks will fail and in fact make the situation worse for thousands of residents.

"The City of Maribyrnong has the highest hospital admissions for children with respiratory illness in the state.

"Not only would the old trucks just use these two streets, having a detrimental impact on those residents, there would also be an increased risk of trucks crashing into the Napier Street Bridge.

"This is absolutely unacceptable."

Wurt thanked the VTA, in particular CEO Peter Anderson, "for the many hours spent with us in respectful negotiations".

Without divulging specifics at this stage, Anderson points the finger at Victoria’s transport bureaucracy.

"The VTA is disappointed the Cleaner Freight Initiative will not proceed, and that the people of the Inner West and transport businesses that use the local infrastructure will not be able to share the benefits of this unique collaboration between residents and industry.

"Regrettably, Victoria’s transport bureaucracy was resistant to and unable to support the many great initiatives that would have incentivised industry investment, improved community amenity and better managed the thousands of heavy vehicle movements that are necessary daily for the Port of Melbourne to function more productively.

"The movement of heavy vehicles in this area will continue to increase and the community issues will remain unchanged."

Anderson adds VTA will continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure heavy vehicle access to the Port of Melbourne is maintained, and that operators working in the area are mindful of safety and amenity concerns of residents.


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