VTA 2020: pressures on transport in spotlight

By: Mark Gojszyk


State conference hears of reform issues and container access demands

VTA 2020: pressures on transport in spotlight
Melissa Horne

 

The Victorian freight transport industry is stepping up to ever-increasing tests of its resilience, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) state conference hears, but a limit will be reached without reform.

VTA president Peter Anderson stresses the challenge of finding productivity in supply chains as the population in Victoria – and much of Australia – grows, with long-overdue infrastructure projects making up for lost time.

"It’s becoming harder to see a sustainable future – we’re being asked by authorities to do so much more than ever," he says.

For the VTA, the review of the heavy vehicle licensing system is top of the list for tackling some of the industry bottlenecks, honing in on giving 18-year-olds "a clear pathway into industry".

It notes 85 new drivers have emerged as part of its Driver Delivery program.

VTA’s new Driver Salute program seeks to also incentivise driving as a career choice.

Other industry priorities for VTA include a review of the permit access system in Victoria and finding a suitable outcome to the ports impasse.

"This [permit] review will lead to recommendations that will make the process predictable, less costly and more responsive to the work the community is asking us to complete," he says.

"We have also produced a Port Landside Improvement Strategy that has clarified the complex issues within the port supply chain.

"Here, we are looking for greater equity and fairness to ensure the Port of Melbourne remains competitive."

Mental health is also a key issue the VTA seeks to tackle soon. 

Container chain problems

Victorian ports and freight minister Melissa Horne acknowledges the "competing demands" from sectors, and she reflects on meeting with stevedores and operators during the Port Pricing and Access review.

"Current working relationships between supply chain participants and the ports are adding costs to the sector … and current model is not working particularly well," she says.

But significant intervention is not on the agenda at present.

"We’re not moving to heavy handed regulation. The review shows there’s no compelling case for that," she notes.

"The government however will respond to the review and we will be talking to you about the way forward."


Read about backing for the VTA’s Driver Salute initiative, here


Horne spotlights the independent review of the port sector, noting that, later this year, the state government will incorporate the findings into "a comprehensive future strategy for our ports" guiding "any policy reset needed, investment opportunities and commercial opportunities".

Further, Horne is firm on her preference for a better rail freight system in the state.

"We want to see more freight moved by rail," she says.

She spotlights investment in the port on-dock rail, including port rail shuttle pick-up network, and looking at upgrades in regional areas via the Rail Freight Working Group for rail freight infrastructure projects.

She sees further opportunities seen with Inland Rail in regional Victoria, and negotiating with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) on improved leases in the state.

Horne highlights Qube’s Ultima intermodal terminal near Swan Hillas a recent positive example for industry.​

 

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