Calls made for an independent freight body

A new report by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Fixing Freight: Establishing Freight Performance Australia, has called on the Federal Government to establish an independent freight body to arrest the decline in Australia’s trade competitiveness.

“Australia’s freight network is the backbone of our competitiveness. It contributes $170bn to our economy, yet we lack clarity on why we do freight badly compared to our international peers,” said IPA Chief Executive Adrian Dwyer.

“Despite innovations in automation in recent years, over the last decade Australia has fallen from 23rd to 95th in the World Bank’s rankings for trade across borders. On these rankings, Australia is now trading behind Albania, Nicaragua, and Swaziland.

“This rapid fall in our trade competitiveness comes at the same time that Australia’s freight task is going to grow by 26 per cent over the next decade – we simply aren’t prepared for the task ahead.”

It is proposed that the freight body, Freight Performance Australia, would draw on lessons from Australia’s international peers and independently measure and publish detailed analysis of congestion on our roads, bottlenecks and the overall performance of our logistic and supply chain networks.

“Freight Performance Australia will use data and information to engage freight industry, political and community stakeholders on key freight policy, regulatory reform and priority projects,” Mr Dwyer said.

“This would be done by using data that is currently held across all levels of government and private companies such as logistics providers, infrastructure companies, and major freight customers such as supermarkets.”

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed the report.

“ALC welcomes this report from IPA as another important contribution to the continuing national conversation about the vital economic importance of enhancing supply chain efficiency and safety,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff.

“As was clear from many of the discussions that occurred at ALC Forum 2018, the lack of data about supply chain performance is a major frustration for industry participants, for investors and for governments wishing to plan more effective infrastructure investment.

“The problem is further compounded by the fact that freight data which is collected is often not coordinated or shared effectively, limiting its usefulness and ability to contribute to improvements in freight network performance.”

ALGA has made calls in its submission to the 2018/19 Federal Budget for the Federal Government to realise the productive potential of Australia’s freight routes by establishing a Local Freight Productivity Investment Plan, funded at $200 million per annum for five years, to ensure that first mile/last mile and freight connectivity issues are addressed.