SCT plea for deeper view on transport task when spending big

Freight hub Budget announcement only half the story, Smith says

SCT plea for deeper view on transport task when spending big
Geoff Smith


SCT Logistics welcomes the proposed multi-billion-dollar federal Budget commitment to a new freight precinct in Victoria, but stresses the need for this to be part of an integrated federal government infrastructure policy.

One of Australia’s two largest rail freight providers, SCT is a long-term advocate for competitive neutrality between rail, road, and sea freight for some time.

"This announcement is a positive, but the benefits will only flow with complementary private sector investment," SCT MD Geoff Smith underlines.

"With the national freight task increasing by $35 billion annually by 2030, significant investments of this nature will be required, but they cannot be deployed in isolation."

Smith emphasises the need to integrate the three freight modes in the context of the $15 billion Inland Rail project, which will see the Melbourne-Brisbane rail line upgraded and enhanced, representing the country’s largest single transport infrastructure project.

Read how SCT linked with DP World Australia in Parkes, here

It also needs to align with the Victorian Government’s Port Rail Shuttle Network initiative, he notes.

"A Victorian transport hub needs to be integrated with Inland Rail. Both projects require private sector investment from the likes of our company, and this will only be forthcoming if the Government is more proactive in the management of the relationship between road, rail and sea," Smith says.

SCT Logistics has invested more than $200 million along the Inland Rail route in recent years, in anticipation of the federal government project being implemented.

Smith points to the example of increasingly unregulated foreign-flagged ships sailing domestic freight segments at the expense of the domestic rail freight industry as one structural inequity between the sectors.

"This landscape is skewed by foreign ships gaming the regulatory system, and not paying any access charges akin to those levied by the Federal Government through the Australian Rail Track Corporation [ARTC]", Smith says.

 "By comparison, foreign-flagged ships can access these domestic routes for as little as $400 for each permit, underlining the need for greater sovereignty and security in Australia’s supply chain, especially in the current climate."

The integration between north-south and east-west is also seen as important in the location of the Victorian site, as was the ability to enhance rail connectivity to the Port of Melbourne.

Smith sees this as another crucial component of the overall story that needs to be accommodated, and a key aspect of removing trucks from congested metropolitan roads, especially across the last mile.

"You cannot make these Budget announcements in isolation," Smith says.

"These assets will be important to addressing the emerging national freight task, but must be complemented by the right long-term environment to encourage further private sector investment."


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