ALC Forum: Community support critical to regulatory reform

By: Rob McKay


Communique sees 10 points highlighted from annual forum including heavy vehicle road charging and COR reform

ALC Forum: Community support critical to regulatory reform
Paul Fletcher insists reform must keep pace with the public acceptance.

 

Attracting broad community backing for regulatory reform and approval for major infrastructure projects is a high priority for the industry, the Australian Logistics Council notes in a round-up of its annual forum.

Senior figures from across industry and government, nationally and internationally, emphasised the need for action across a range of fronts to improve the efficiency of Australia’s supply chains, with a particular focus on improving freight efficiency in New South Wales.

The key points were:

  • Industry and government need to step up their efforts to work together to progress heavy vehicle road reforms to achieve more efficient freight movements 
  • Work needs to be done to convince the public of the benefits of logistics investment and reform, particularly to ports’ landside infrastructure, to underpin continued economic growth and community wellbeing
  • Corridor preservation must feature more prominently in jurisdictions’ long-term planning documents, with a greater buy-in from all levels of government
  • Improving rail access to Australia’s major ports, as well as their linkages to key inland intermodal facilities, is critical to increasing port capacity and decreasing road congestion in our major cities 
  • Industry and government need to work closer together to improve the efficient delivery of parcels in CBD areas brought about by the growth in e-retailing 
  • The inland rail line has to be built, with efficient connections to the ports in Melbourne and Brisbane, to support Australia’s future freight effort and to move north-south freight out of the Sydney basin
  • Practical steps need to be taken to maximise the economic and environmental benefits of an efficient maritime freight sector 
  • ALC to take a leadership role to increase diversity and inclusion in the logistics industry 
  • ALC to consult with regulators on behalf of industry on proposed changes to Chain of Responsibility provisions contained within the Heavy Vehicle National Law 
  • Opportunities exist to increase the efficiency of air freight movements at Sydney Airport.

The gathering also heard from federal major projects, territories and local government minister Paul Fletcher who underlined that his government would be very careful community expectations when introducing road charging generally and reiterated it was likely to be a 10-15 year process.

"We will need to be satisfied that there is a reasonable degree of community acceptance and understanding," Fletcher says.

"In turn, this will require a demonstration that the benefits from a broader use of road pricing would exceed the costs.

"Any change to the current system of road funding must improve transparency – and deliver clear community benefits.

"Of the many complex issues, let me highlight the equity implications of the greater use of road pricing. In considering this issue, the Australian government expects to give careful thought to community service obligations, service level standards and how best to structure charges across road networks.

"Certainly in the immediate future we are interested to do further work in relation to heavy vehicle pricing.

"Over the next few months I plan to engage with the states and industry to hear their views as the Commonwealth develops its strategy in this area.

"I hope that the Australian Logistics Council will provide significant input into this process. 

"Given our stated intention to look first at further developing heavy vehicle pricing, clearly your sector will be absolutely central.

"I know there are some strongly held views. Quite apart from the philosophical issues, there are very many issues of design and detail to be worked through."

The forum also heard from shadow infrastructure and transport minister Anthony Albanese, who welcomed the government’s pledge to return to due process through Infrastructure Australia (AI).

While welcoming its calls for major projects to be properly tested and subject to cost-benefit analysis prior to receiving Commonwealth funding and an end to the federal ban on investing in public transport, plus the updating of its existing priority list, Albanese took it to task for ignoring its own work of four years ago.

"I am concerned about IA’s apparent ignorance of its own previous work," he says.

"Its call for a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy ignores the fact that in September 2012, it produced the National Land Freight Strategy, which followed the January 2012 release of the National Ports Strategy.

"The strategy, later endorsed by state transport ministers, was based on the notion that existing and future road, rail, intermodal, port and airport developments needed to fit together.

"It ended the previous ad hoc, fragmented approach under which decisions had been made in isolation of decisions by other governments or other levels of government.

"Features of the plan included the recognition of the need to preserve current and future transport corridors and to make better use of existing infrastructure.

"Development of the strategy was a landmark for freight movement in this nation.

"It requires governments to not only focus on developing efficient roads or railway lines, but that it also consider how these individual pieces of infrastructure fit in with the overall transport network.

"Production of the National Land Freight Strategy complemented the National Ports Strategy.

"I’ve got no problem with major documents like this strategy being updated from time to time.

"But I am concerned that the Infrastructure Australia report reads as though there never was a National Land Freight Strategy or a National Ports Strategy."

Albanese foreshadowed a federal Labor government giving AI more responsibilities.

"Labor sees scope for Infrastructure Australia to fill that gap using a similar model to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation," he says.

"Infrastructure Australia would administer a $10 billion infrastructure funding facility, using debt guarantees, discounted loans and direct investment to get projects off the ground.

"Within 100 days of the election of a Labor Government, we will appoint an expert panel to formalise the arrangements concerning the fund, including the important details around its new funding mandate.

"Adding project facilitation to IA’s role will allow it to not only identify good projects, but also work directly with industry to address impediments to the development of those projects.

"The more private capital we can unlock, the quicker we will be able to begin to attack the infrastructure deficit that is holding back economic growth in this country."

 

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