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Sense of looming crisis prompts WA Transport Summit

Costs and inefficiencies crimping economic growth just as state needs it the most


While the mining and resources boom’s end garners headlines, the boom itself served only to obscure a swathe of shortcoming that have been allowed to fester and choke Western Australian transport and logistics efficiency.

That is the view of WA Road Transport Association executive officer Cam Dumesny and is the impetus for a multi-organisational WA Freight and Logistics being held on May 25 in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) and the Freight and Logistic Council, which comprised the heads of the government agriculture, transport and planning departments along with transport industry representative of all of the modes.

Noting the summit also has the support of the WA Farmers Federation, Local Government Association and the construction industry, Dumesny tells ATN he found a series of issues across a range of industries and enterprises made the need for summit increasingly pressing and he felt bound to push the concept.

Just last month, it emerged that high freight rates made Brickworks’ WA-east coast brick supply unviable and that it was cheaper to ship bricks from Spain to Melbourne.

Then there was agriculture.

“Farmers were telling me, that our whole wheat industry . . . is at risk because our landside logistics costs means that our global export markets are at risk,” Dumesny says.  

He then ticks of a litany of other concerning developments he has encountered, including:

  • a local manufacturer saying it is cheaper to ship direct to China than to Adelaide
  • major communities of the Kimberley unable to be resupplied for several weeks due to the wet season regularly cutting major road networks as simple fixes of road profile have not been done
  • five months after the major rain event in the Great Southern area, many major road repairs have not even been started
  • transport company placing geo-fence mandated lower speed sections,on several parts of the National Highway due to poor maintenance
  • gold miners saying the costs of resupply are directly impacting whether they stay operational
  • removalists, retail re-suppliers, waste removalists and construction companies that kept giving example after example of local government rules that were destroying their ability to resupply Perth.

The CCI notes that in aiming to identify and discuss the policy priorities needed to improve WA freight and logistics productivity

summit, at which new state transport minister Rita Saffioti is to provide the keynote address,  will provide input into the National Freight Competitiveness Strategy.

CCI chief economist Rick Newnham, who will also discuss the issues points to the summits timing, as it coincides with new government’s plan to introduce a state infrastructure body to oversee and review infrastructure projects.

“I’ll be looking at the overall picture of the WA economy and the importance freight plays in growing our state economy and the role of infrastructure in providing future economic growth,” Newnham says.

The summit will include addresses by Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers CFO Tanya Rybarczyk and Freight and Logistics Council of WA chair Nicole Lockwood.

The one-day summit to be held at the CCI function centre in East Perth

Tickets can be accessed here

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