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Transport & Logistics

The freight debate: is the Federal Government doing enough?

28 Aug 2013, by Informa Insights

In the past few months the election campaign has focused more on education and passenger transport rather than focusing on one of the back bones of the Australian economy; our freight trade.2013-australian-federal-election-300x199

As discussed in Lloyd’s List yesterday, better port planning will lead to a stronger and more productive economy. However, if we fail to deal with it efficiently, our freight is said to double by 2013 which in turn will create more bottlenecks and create wear and tear on our current infrastructure.


It seems as though the states are getting it right, with more and more freight and port strategies being developed at the state level in order to deal with increasing bottlenecks.

In Western Australia, State transport minister Troy Buswell said: “High freight growth regions such as the Pilbara and the southwest will require a focus on infrastructure capacity upgrades and road expansion projects. Regions where ageing infrastructure is an issue, such as in the Great Southern and the Wheatbelt, will require a focus on transport network rejuvenation.

“The state government will continue to make major investments in the regional freight network, but the major infrastructure required to provide additional capacity at our regional ports and freight rail lines requires more than relying exclusively on public funds.”

State initiatives are also beginning to roll out to deal with the future growth in trade. The final NSW Freight and Ports Strategy is still set for release this year, but it is aiming to support the growth in freight in NSW by helping to shift more freight to rail:

“The Strategy seeks to support economic growth in NSW through the delivery of an efficient and effective freight network…. Opportunities exist to shift more freight onto rail and this remains an important priority for the NSW Government. The movement of freight by rail is forecast to increase under the influence of the coal task and the planned increase of containers on rail to and from Port Botany. (Source)

Port Botany
Port Botany

In Queensland, the Moving Freight Strategy was developed as a 10-year plan to improve the rail freight industry. Some of the key actions and initiatives in Moving Freight include:

  • Preserving train paths on regional rail lines for non-coal freight
  • Making major freights routes more resilient to floods and natural disasters
  • Better collection and analysis of freight data
  • Continuing to reduce red tape for heavy vehicle permits (Source)


There has been a recent initiative to introduce a National Land Freight Strategy under the Standing Council of Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) which was introduced in order to:

“Drive efficient and sustainable freight logistics, balancing the needs of a growing Australian economy, with the quality of life aspirations of the Australian people.” (Source)

And as mentioned above, the National Ports Strategy has been developed in order to fix the perception of freight as being the “poor cousin” of the urban planning context.

intermodal conference sydney

But is this really enough? Should the Federal government commit to more direct and well-targeted strategies to deal with major bottlenecks? Some of these issues will be discussed at the AusIntermodal 2013 conference. To view the agenda click here.

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