President’s column

It’s terrific when we stand up for the sector and have a win, in this case with the biggest movers in the nation.

Recently, the Federal Government released the report of the ‘Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities’. The Inquiry was conducted by a four-member panel of senior industry experts to inform the development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. It’s an initiative of the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC), of which ALGA is a member, and is an initiative that we very much support.

This key document highlights the five critical action areas that must be addressed to lift freight productivity and efficiency for Australia.

Several recommendations within this report support the crucial need to include the local government sector in coordinating freight plans and, importantly, funding us to improve access to key freight routes and freight facilities.

The Inquiry report urges that more must be done by all tiers of governments and industry in partnership. It calls for a nation-wide, consistent and integrated approach to solving freight and supply chain issues, particularly through coordinated urban freight plans for major cities between local governments and their state and territory counterparts.

The report also calls for expanded infrastructure investment programs to address infrastructure issues that are restricting access for High Productivity Vehicles and Over Sized Over Mass vehicles, including expanded support for local government assessment programs and investment in bridges, culverts and degraded roads.

You will be well aware that from the beginning of my ALGA presidency, I have fervently advocated for targeted Commonwealth investment to fix first and last mile local roads to improve access for freight vehicles and enhance connectivity between our local roads and preferred state and national freight routes.

Although the Government’s recent budget appeared to spend big on infrastructure, it missed an important opportunity by failing to address first and last mile connectivity issues. I discussed this with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport Michael McCormack this Wednesday, and requested he consider allocating some funding from this year's budget to commence a pilot project for resolving first and last mile issues.

As part of the next steps following the release of the Inquiry report, the TIC has committed to developing a 20-year National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy over the next 12 months.

As this lively debate progresses over the next 12 months of the strategy’s development, I will do my best to ensure that local government freight issues are recognised in the strategy and in any funding allocation to improve freight movement for our country.

Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President