Graincorp MD calls for supply chain upgrade

Mark Palmquist says governments need to get involved with rail upgrades

Graincorp MD calls for supply chain upgrade
GrainCorp MD Mark Palmquist


Australia’s close proximity to Asian grain markets is being eroded by poor freight infrastructure, GrainCorp managing director Mark Palmquist has warned.

In particular, an old and fragmented rail network along the east coast is reducing exporters’ competitiveness in the region.

The US national says he is surprised that neither state governments nor the commonwealth have considered an upgrade as a priority.

"They call agriculture one of the main pillars of the economy, but I don't see a lot of follow-through on the capital investment side," Palmquist told agriculture media this week.

"Given the relative value to the Australian economy versus what investment needs to be made, there seems to be a valid reason for some investment action."

Palmquist says international grain supply chains have now superseded Australia’s networks. 

Particularly on the east coast – where GrainCorp operates – he wants to have higher capacity rail and longer sidings at both silos and terminals.

That will allow for longer, heavier trains to move between grain receiving locations and export ports.

The quality and reliability of that infrastructure is also important.

"We badly need to get more velocity out of rolling stock and more accuracy with trains showing up on time at silos and ports."

Palmquist's comments come as some disquiet greeted the the federal government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper on the rail freight aspect.

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