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Transport & Logistics

The key themes and issues of WA Transport 2012 Part 1

27 Aug 2012, by Informa Insights

Lloyd’s List DCN and Informa would like to thank all speakers and delegates who participated in the 9th annual Western Australia Transport Summit, that was held on the 21st & 22nd August 2012 in Perth. We were delighted to have Paul Fisher, the Principal Consultant for GHD’s Transportation service group in Western Australia, chair our ninth annual WA Transport Summit.  Paul’s extensive experience, especially in working collaboratively within and across public and private sector organisations, including local and national government, stakeholders and industry bodies, was clearly on display as the engaged attendees and facilitated discussions.

Highlights of the conference included the high standard of the informative presentations, including many multimedia presentations, the candid responses to questions by guest speakers and the many benefits of networking with like-minded people passionate about the industry.

As our gold medallists were making their way home after the London Olympics, Paul brought some of that Olympic spirit to the conference by reminding attendees that 50 years ago, Perth was the host of the Commonwealth Games. Imagine the transport picture in 1962 and now forward to 2012 when across the state, multibillion dollar pieces of an increasingly complex, expanding and expensive transport network are fitting into place to meet the burgeoning export demands of Western Australia.

 Highlighting the theme of this year’s conference, Delivering increased efficiency and capacity to facilitate export demand, here are a few figures collected during the Conference:

  • $280bn in infrastructure development planned and WA exports 46% of Australia’s national exports, up from 26% in 2000
  • WA ports already shipped more than the combined sea exports of Queensland, NSW and Victoria, and predicted iron ore shipments out of Port Hedland would soon more than triple
  • Port Hedland – has 360 trucks arriving each day equating to one every 4 minutes
  • Perth Airport is the fastest growing capital city airport in Australia with 11.5 million passengers recorded in the last financial year

Although the transport story in Western Australia is truly unique for historical, geographical and economic reasons, there were a number of common themes that emerged during the conference.

1.      REFORM

Greg Martin (NTC) explained the benefits harmonised legislation for increased efficiency in land transport, namely productivity and safety. In view of the landmark success of establishing national rail safety legislation (2013) and national heavy haul legislation (2014), Greg detailed why we need to continue with national transport reforms and what the NTC believes some of these reforms should be.

Greg stressed that reform is also required for infrastructure funding (market reform) with greater public-sector involvement and a cultural reform with the need to encourage open data where appropriate.

The importance of developing seamless information infrastructure was highlighted by the following quote from OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurria, “In many advanced economies, creating seamlessness is increasingly about building an information infrastructure, less about new roads or rail lines.”Linfox’s FoxTrax initiative is an Australian example of the increased efficiencies gained by information. There are opportunities to increase efficiency and looking overseas, Greg shared the case study of Bristol’s urban freight warehousing scheme. The scheme established a consolidated supply chain centre which achieved a 75% reduction in fuel costs for participating retailers and contributed to improved safety and environmental conditions. What can Australian local governments do to take advantage of similar opportunities?

Interesting, the panel discussion that concluding the conference provided some answers to this. The panel highlighted the need to “share the task” and how governments, industry and other stakeholders in the transport sector should work together to successfully achieve productivity and safety: themes that echoed throughout the conference.

In speaking about the transport efficiencies journey, Greg highlighted that the “targets keep moving” and as an industry, we need to evolve to meet these changing challenges and demand. LNG is a growing demand in WA and David Harrod (Department of Transport, WA) provided a review of maritime safety and environment protection measures in North-west Australia. Approximately 1 billion tonnes of iron ore pa is forecast for WA by 2015 which equate to 5000 capesize ships. Given the implications of this growth for shipping the Department of Transport, WA and AMSA has adopted an approach seeking management rather than regulatory solutions. David detailed the number of preventative measures under consideration and gave an update of what’s been done so far including:

  • Submission to IMO on Area to be Avoided for Ningaloo Reef (ratification in December, entry into force July 2013)
  • Implementation of Shipping Safety Fairways
  • Planning and analysis for potential VTIS
  • Preparation to upgrade Navaids

2.      FUNDING

Alan Langford’s (Bankwest) remark that “if not on a different planet, than WA is definitely on a different country” when it comes to market outlook was a sentiment that would be echoed across a number of issues. WA’s labour growth is unparalleled in Australia and its retail and engineering construction activity is emerging as the next story to follow. With its natural resource fields and proximity to China, Alan highlighted that WA personifies the “lucky country”.

Macquaries’ Andrew Newman provided the following figures as a snapshot of the major challenge to procure and fund the infrastructure required to sustain the growth of our mining industry. According to the Department of Mines and Petroleum the Iron Ore & Steel Industry, WA has projects on the drawing board with a capital expenditure of in excess of $A37 billion and which will employ 23,000 people during construction. At the same time, the oil and gas industry is undertaking projects with a capital expenditure of $A118 billion, employing 19,000 people during construction. However, while a number of speakers spoke about funding restrictions, Andrew provided optimism with his detailing of how substantial capital is available for the ‘right’ projects.

 3.      EXPANSION

The sheer growth of WA’s commodity exports was brought into focus by Roger Johnston’s (Port Hedland) presentation on expansion plans at Port Hedland. Roger stated with pride that the port was now the largest iron-ore exporter in the world and as that the port is nearing capacity, continued to detail its expansion plans. Roger didn’t shy away from discussing the State Government’s plans to consolidate regional ports: the biggest reforms of State’s ports in decades. With staged implementation of this consolidation to commence from 2014, it’ll be interesting to see what what happens with the new Pilbara Ports Authority: comprising the ports of Port Hedland and Dampier, the proposed new ports at Anketell and Ashburton North, and the ports at Cape Preston, Port Walcott, Varanus Island, Barrow Island, Airlie Island, Thevenard Island and Onslow.

Jim Netterfield (OPR) provided an update on the Oakajee story and the commodity story continued further south with Simon Fretton (Albany Port Authority) detailing the Port’s upgrades in planning for the long-term economic and social impacts of the Southdown Magnetite Project. Albany prides itself as a lifestyle focussed community. With one of most colourful powerpoint presentations of the conference (see below examples), Simon reflected on the challenges in achieving the necessary dredging approvals for expansion.

The expansion story extends beyond ports and we were fortunate to have had Brad Geathes (Perth Airport) provide an impressive look at redevelopments to increase operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience. Brad provided an international look at aviation before flying down to “that troublesome child” Perth Airport. Working closely with the WA Government, in the 5 years to 2012, Perth Airport has achieved:

  • A 60% increase in air service capacity (as measured by seats)
  • An increase from  11 to 16 in the number of international airlines
  • An increase from 5% to 33% in the number of international seats delivered by Low Cost Carriers
A maturing Perth Airport – Artists impression of new International Terminal

Continuing from Brad, Stephen Limbrick (Qantas) detailed the carrier’s investment in WA’s aviation market from fleet expansion to the introduction of more direct flights from capital cities to WA’s regional centres. Perth is becoming Qantas’ largest maintenance base and was strategically selected for the launch pad for ‘Faster, Smarter, Check-in’ which has been now successfully rolled out across Australia and New Zealand.

To be continued…

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