EDITORIAL: Logistics players waiting for government at the table

By: Jason Whittaker

Speakers at the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) forum in Canberra last week ramped up the rhetoric over the lack of

Speakers at the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) forum in Canberra last week ramped up the rhetoric over the lack of supply chain coordination. The issues remain the same, but the need for action has become increasingly more urgent.

ALC Chairman Ivan Backman says supply chain is in "crisis". Woolworths chief Michael Luscombe attacked the crippled state of Australia's infrastructure networks. Asciano CEO Mark Rowsthorn bluntly says the critical bottlenecks in supply chain networks are "bullshit".

The topics each speaker tackled had a familiar ring about them. Regulatory red tape; infrastructure bottlenecks; a tightening labour market; a poor industry safety record; the challenge of climate change management.

A new document from the ALC maps the challenges over the next eight years. Across seven 'action areas' it sets out a roadmap for tackling these key issues and improving the efficiency of Australia's supply chains.

The report sets an important goal: a 1 percent increase in efficiency every year. Based on current value, the ALC says this will save the Australian economy around $1.5 billion every year.

Those who attended the ALC forum were left in no doubt Australia's logisticians have the capacity and the capability to meet the challenge. But they need help.

While the ALC warned of the negative economic impact of an unproductive logistics sector, while speakers lamented the lack of coordinated infrastructure investment and regulatory disharmony, the new federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was a few hundred metres away in Parliament House. That he cancelled his appearance at the forum is a great shame. He could have learnt a great deal.

The way forward for supply chain efficiency is a true partnership between logistics providers, customers and government. The Rudd Government needs to be at the table and show a level of commitment to supply chain management the sector is still waiting to see.

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