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QTA celebrates critical Inland Freight Route funding

The QTA has welcomed a $720 million budget boost that sees the transformative road freight infrastructure project return back to the table

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) has welcomed funding in the federal budget that essentially gives the Inland Freight Route (IFR) project the green light.

The announcement of $720 million for the project by federal treasurer Jim Chalmers has cemented the future for road freight in Queensland.

The funding means the Inland Freight Route is now set to become reality, with the reinstatement of the 80/20 funding principle and a further $200 million provided by the Queensland government means the total infrastructure investment reaches $1 billion.

“The commitment by the federal government to the Inland Freight Route is a significant step towards a progressive future for road freight in Queensland,” QTA CEO Gary Mahon says.

“Importantly for Queensland, it will provide an alternative all-weather route for road freight in the state which will ensure that in times of natural disaster, regional and remote communities can be supplied with essential goods and products.”

Mahon says the announcement is one of the most significant advocacy achievements for the QTA, with the result coming after lobbying first began for the IFR project in the 2020 budget election blueprint.

Following the 2023 infrastructure review, the IFR was moved to review status. Courtesy of the QTA’s strategic and consistent advocacy, this funding is now back on the investment schedule.

“As the most decentralised state in the country and, as we look to the future, governments need to accept that the road freight industry must have reliable, productive and safe roads built for trucks to keep our most regional and remote communities replenished,” Mahon says.

“Complemented with rail freight, this funding will provide more certainty that imports and exports will be more efficiently delivered to and from our ports for years to come. This funding confirms they are listening.”

Mahon says it’s a “game-changing initiative” to see the progressive use of safer and more efficient multi-combinations that will support the industry’s transition to low emissions targets.

This change, according to Mahon and the QTA, is critical to an industry that will require the use of diesel-powered trucks for some years while waiting for the progression of zero-emissions heavy vehicle technology advancements and the investment of alternative fuels infrastructure in the state.

“The journey towards real progress starts with a freight network that provides for the safest and most efficient truck trips which means maximum utilisation of multi-combinations,” Mahon says.

“If industry wide productivity does not improve then price pressures will be persistent and eat at the sustainability of road freight.”

The QTA says the IFR announcement doesn’t diminish its expectations of continued Bruce Highway investments, but the IFR will be an important part of a national all-weather freight route.

The progressive charter of the QTA means it will now be tackling and looking toward its next advocacy challenge of connecting Toowoomba Second Range Crossing to the Port of Brisbane. Mahon says this will require a multi-modal approach with critical thinking by key stakeholders to achieve an innovative, safe and efficient solution to connect the entire freight supply chain in Queensland.

With road freight being a significant contributor to the economy and productivity of the state, the QTA will continue to forge ahead to represent its members through high level strategic advocacy that is focused on growth, sustainability and safety.

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