Agriculture White Paper underwhelms on T&L

Much of the new rural road spend has been announced, while rail fails to get a mention

Agriculture White Paper underwhelms on T&L
GrainCorp wants more attention on rail infrastructure.


The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper has received a muted response on its transport and logistics proposals.

While most of the bouquets were for farming matters, such as water infrastructure, research and development, and an agriculture commissioner to be part of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), there was concern expressed on the lack of new rail investment, while a lot of rural road infrastructure spending has already been flagged, particularly in the WhitePaperon Developing Northern Australia.  

"Inadequate infrastructure and uncompetitive supply chains limits the competitiveness of the Australian grains industry," grain industry body GrainGrowers says in an otherwise positive response but one which notes "the cost of moving grain from farm to port typically the single largest production costs for Australian growers".

"While the White Paper is a start, we are looking to continue the discussion with Government with the aim of leveraging greater investment in grain supply chains."

GrainCorp, which the White Paper acknowledges is undertaking supply chain and infrastructure reforms, is reportedly keen for more to be done on rail infrastructure.

Rural transport is covered in the chapter headed ‘Building the infrastructure of the 21st century’.

This reiterates recently announced initiatives, such as the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the $100 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund, and $600 million for projects on key roads in northern Australia, which will leverage funding from the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.

New spending appears to boil down to a $1 million expansion of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (Transit), which was applied to cattle transport two months ago, to include include wheat, cotton, canola, barley, grain sorghum, oats, lupins, dairy, sheep, sugarcane, grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, bananas, onions, lettuce, carrots, strawberries, mango, melons, chicken meat, pigs and peanuts..

The White Paper says this aims to "assist in identifying opportunities for supply chain optimisation and future infrastructure investments.

"Its results will equip the State, Territory and local governments to improve agriculture supply chains so that they can meet the existing and future needs of the agriculture sector.

"These investments will minimise costs and maximise long-term profitability for the sector."

It adds that the Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund will draw on Transit modelling to identify road infrastructure investments or regulatory reforms that have the potential to improve productivity in the northern cattle supply chain.

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