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Industry welcomes govt response to infrastructure plan

ALC, ATA and ARA say road user charging reform plan is key to drive productivity and growth


The Australian Logistics Council (ALC), the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) support the federal government’s response to the 15-year Infrastructure Plan. 

While the ALC backs government’s commitment to develop a national freight and supply chain strategy, the ATA is keen on the government’s plan to further investigate road user charging.

ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says the logistics body has been a long supporter of the plan to develop a national strategy and welcomes the government’s proposal to launch an independent inquiry.

“ALC’s advocacy in this area recognises that we must treat the movement of freight as a national issue operating in a national market, and to ensure decisions are made in Australia’s national economic interest,” he says.

“As a nation, we cannot afford a disjointed approach between jurisdictions when it comes to the movement of freight, because freight does not stop at state borders.

“The Commonwealth’s involvement through a national strategy will help to address this issue.”

Kilgariff says it is important for the government to involve industry stakeholders to ensure a “truly national, multi-modal strategy”.

“The National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy should build upon positive progress in recent years to improve logistics planning and reforms, which included the development of National Freight and Port Strategies.”

ATA chair Noelene Watson says an independent price regulator for heavy vehicle charging is “critical reform” that needs to be prioritised.

“Trucking operators are overcharged for our use of the roads, with the National Transport Commission finding that truck and bus operators will be overcharged by $515 million over the next two years,” she says.

“The Government has previously committed to transition to independent heavy vehicle price regulation by 2017-18, and the trucking industry strongly encourages the Government to maintain this schedule.

“The independent price regulator should be set up so transport ministers can set legally binding pricing rules in accordance with legislated pricing and consultation principles.

“Ministers must not have the power to override or review pricing determinations, and there must be merits-based appeals to the Australian Competition Tribunal.

“We look forward to taking up Minister Fletcher’s commitment of extensive consultation with the industry.”

Kilgariff agrees with this view.

“ALC supports progress on heavy vehicle road reform to deliver a more efficient and transparent investment framework and encourages governments to advance these important reforms in a timely fashion,” he says.

ARA, too, welcomes the news, with CEO Danny Broad stating that he hopes the heavy vehicle road user charging reform “will support the acceleration of this reform to enable competitive neutrality between road and rail freight”.

“The focus on Australia’s freight supply chain productivity and efficiency is pleasing,” Broad says.

“The ARA has noted strong political and community support for getting more freight onto rail and the Commonwealth Government needs to support this through projects such as Inland Rail.”

ALC has also welcomed plan to map national supply chains to support infrastructure and gateways.

“Efficient supply chains will be critical in the future to manage a rising freight task, and to continue supporting future economic growth and productivity,” Kilgariff says.

“It is imperative that this Strategy is a living document, and not put in the bottom drawer and forgotten.

“The final strategy must be dynamic and continually updated to take into account new challenges and opportunities that emerge in the freight supply chain.

“And to succeed, effective partnerships between the public and private sectors will needed, based on a shared approach to tackling common issues.”

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