The QTA has questioned if the federal government supports Northern Australia’s supply chain following key freight funding being subjected to business case analysis
The Queensland Transport Association (QTA) has responded to the recently announced infrastructure and regional development funding changes from the federal government, saying the government is slowing Queensland road investment.
The QTA says the announcement to stall promised funding for the Inland Freight Route (IFR) is a major setback for Queensland productivity.
QTA CEO Gary Mahon says the commitment to a high productivity freight network won’t be realised as the promised funding has been referred for further business case analysis.
“Has the new Melbourne Suburban Rail Link been subject to any business case analysis? Queenslanders know how they are being treated,” Mahon says.
“This will significantly impact the progression of this key freight route in Queensland and leave Queensland with a flood-prone single national highway.
“Queensland will have no viable alternative to the Bruce Highway, which is known to be vulnerable to a raft of road safety, flooding, capacity and congestion issues.”
The QTA says road freight is critical to the Queensland economy becoming a backbone of supply chains, while the state also has one of the fastest growing container ports in Australia in the Port of Brisbane.
Currently, the regions that supply these major export markets can’t be accessed with the safest high productivity vehicle combinations due to infrastructure requiring upgrades.
“The impact of this decision will severely constrain productivity in Queensland as an energetic, innovative, and competitive road freight industry that is crucial to the prosperity and growth of our state. It stimulates employment opportunities and drives economic growth, a fact that has been clearly overlooked by Minister King,” Mahon says.
“Minister King has extinguished the opportunity to reduce road freight costs for the benefit of our economy and international competitiveness. These road investments are urgently needed to boost the supply side of the economy to improve productivity and raise living standards and curtail rising costs of living.
“The practical impacts for our economy of not investing in road infrastructure represents higher costs of doing business, higher cost of living, decreased efficiency and productivity and delayed business expansion activities and a reduction in liveability of our regions and in turn, their workforces.”
Mahon says investing in the IFR would have provided Queensland with an all-weather freight route that is much needed, as the Bruce Highway can be cut in more than 40 places at any time during a flood event.
The QTA says King has also overlooked the critical benefits infrastructure investment would yield for Northern Australia including enabling forecast growth in the agriculture and resource sector, value-adding to regional production and distribution and reducing the carbon footprint through increased capacity for high productivity vehicles.
“This announcement does leave one wondering if the federal government still support the benefits of increasing the economic performance of Northern Australia,” Mahon says.