Western Roads Federation outlines economic recovery plan

Road transport and logistics industry will drive response in pre-election message

Western Roads Federation outlines economic recovery plan
Cam Dumesny


Western Roads Federation (WRF) has identified freight productivity and disruption as constraints on helping drive Western Australia’s economic recovery.

In a major statement in the state election lead-up, WRF hones in on Impacts from the pandemic have disrupted the efficiency and increased costs of WA’s freight movements, whether by road, rail, sea or air.

This, at a time when many WA’s businesses and exporters are seeking to protect existing, diversify or develop new markets, due to effects of either the pandemic or regional trade tensions.

And it brings other voices to bear on the major issues.

"One key barrier to disruption was the skills shortage however, thanks to the McGowan government the road transport and logistics industry has received $6.1m to address the skilled driver shortage," WRF CEO Cam Dumesny says.

"However, training up new drivers will take time; therefore, we need to address transport and logistics productivity to ensure we can help drive WA’s economic recovery."

The state body underlines that WA businesses and exporters need to have cost-effective and efficient freight supply chains that can help support their protection or development of new markets.

"We are focused on addressing productivity in WA’s supply chains from a multi-model perspective," Dumesny says.

"It’s not just about trucks, it’s about how productivity can be improved across the state and how freight transport can help WA businesses protect or grow their businesses.

"We can do this by constructively working together with the incoming government and the other transport modes to identify and remove barriers to freight productivity.

"WA needs supply chains that have a far greater integration of road, rail, sea and air operating as an orchestra – not a cacophony of disparate transport modes."

To improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance WA’s competitive edge, WRF identifies and expands on the following areas of broad productivity opportunities:

Removing barriers that risk local manufacturing jobs – In conjunction with many parties it has been identified that encroachment on the freight corridors around the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) and Kwinana industrial area need to be addressed

The WRF argues that moving infrastructure, re-submitting permit applications, and changing truck combinations on a regular basis is not practicable and is costing the industry and costing WA money, time and threatens the continuation of onshore manufacturing, which will in turn cost WA local jobs.

"In addition, Australian Steel Institute WA state manager James England says it is apparent that the competitiveness, capability and capacity of WA heavy manufacturing would be enhanced by improving High Wide Load/Over-Size Over-Mass (HWL-OSOM) transport capability of the state’s road network," it notes.

"Mick French from K&S Heavy Haulage has been advocating for the industry to work together with the state government and local authoritative bodies to help keep manufacturing jobs in WA.

"WA has been very successfully growing an onshore manufacturing and heavy engineering capability.

"But for this to remain onshore we must be able efficiently move this equipment to where it’s needed across the state."

It points out that time delays or constraints on access add cost, increase client project risk and inherently undermine our local manufacturers ability to compete against low wage offshore competitors.

"Our WA clients are telling us that this is a real risk to them," it says.

"We know where the chokepoints are and what needs to be done and I would welcome working with the incoming government to help protect WA manufacturing jobs.

"Mr England says enhancement of the HWL-OSOM will remove infrastructure barriers, reduce costs, improve access to local manufacturers, and support the WA Government’s jobs agenda by keeping manufacturing jobs local. This means jobs for WA."

Read about the WA investment in truck driver training, here

Identifying the barriers to diversifying the economy of our regions to help support their sustained growth – WRF believes a stronger focus is needed on road freight productivity into the regions as these areas start to see the impact of people moving from the cities and to help regional businesses diversify and grow.

To support the growth of these regions and provide better living standards and opportunities, road networks need investment and barriers such as weather-impacted roads and low-capacity bridges must be improved.

The investment by the McGowan government of $14million in to rest areas for heavy vehicle drivers in our regional areas has been very welcomed and will help ensure safer regional freight delivery.

"Removing time to market barriers hindering the new market opportunity for our produce industry Several WA fresh produce growers are now growing their east-coast markets, due to a new truck combination that has saved a day in transit meaning extra shelf life for their produce," WRF notes.

"WRF members and Main Roads WA have been successfully working together to trial a new refrigerated truck combination direct from Perth Markets to the Adelaide that reduces the travel time, reduces the number of truck movements and emissions whilst running one of the safest truck combinations ever put on WA roads."

SW Express CEO Mark Mazza is quoted as saying that to advocate for our industry is to lift safety standards and to create new opportunities and this is being done through the Greenmount Hill trial by allowing WA to become more competitive.

"The 24 hours saved is crucial for fresh produce which is a temperature sensitive produce," Mazza says.

"This means better shelf life, less wastage and gives our local producers a chance to compete in the East Coast market. To enable our growers to reach more buyers means more demand and more jobs here for WA."

To date the trial has been successful and has seen local producers supplying up to 200 tonnes per day of fresh fruit and vegetables, WRF notes.

Incentivising the move to cleaner urban freight delivery with productivity gains –  The industry has identified that it can deliver cleaner urban and port freight movements if some simple productivity measures were introduced to help offset the higher investment costs.

Dumesny says that with fewer trucks, there can  be cleaner freight, but this is only through more effective combinations, using cleaner energy and low-noise vehicles – "this is something we are keen to work with the incoming government on".

Building a resilient supply chain – WA’s transport and logistics industry has been challenged with ongoing disruption to its supply chain. With the pandemic causing interruption to air and coast shipping freight and disasters such as bushfires and floods severing road and rail links to the East and parts of the Pilbara and Kimberly.

"A robust and resilient supply chain network will mean a more connected and productive WA which will reduce the immense pressure the industry suffers whilst continuing to deliver and operate while facing many simultaneous challenges," Dumesny says.

"With the incoming Government’s help, we can immediately establish a multi-agency taskforce to identify, prioritise, and remove productivity barriers to transport and logistics.

"Removing these barriers will help our drive our state’s economic recovery and sustained growth."


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