FEDERAL Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese last week released the nation's first ever National Land Freight Strategy, a long term blueprint for a streamlined, integrated and multimodal transport system.
According to the Minister, the Strategy provides a framework for a coordinated, national freight network of the nation's ports and the road and rail that link them and seeks to establish mechanisms to develop a long term pipeline of infrastructure projects.
It makes a range of recommendations on matters including the use of more productive freight vehicles, dedicated rail freight infrastructure and linking proposed ports with transport corridors needed for exports.
Mr Albanese said the release of the Strategy provides a unique opportunity to fix the regulatory and infrastructure failures that have constrained miners, manufacturers and farmers and cost the Australian economy tens of billions of dollars in lost export earnings.
The Strategy was developed by Infrastructure Australia with extensive input from the National Transport Commission, industry as well as state and territory authorities.
The Minister said it will now be up to the nation's Infrastructure and Transport Ministers to work together to develop an action plan for turning the Strategy's vision into a reality.
The Government's National Urban Policy expressed an expectation that by 2014, States would develop their own 20 year freight strategies that align with national directions.
"Our freight and logistics network is the lifeblood of the Australian economy. But at present it is struggling to cope with the existing demands being placed on it, let alone the doubling in freight volumes expected between now and 2030," Mr Albanese said.
"Quite simply our aim is to build and maintain a modern, well-planned, efficient and safe freight and logistics network that supports rather than hinders Australia's future economic development."
According to the Minister, the Strategy is underpinned by a number of key principles, including:
- Replacing fragmented, ad hoc decision-making with one national, integrated network that includes a proper, long term planning approach;
- Making better use of our existing infrastructure rather than constructing new infrastructure; and
- Fairer, more sustainable financing arrangements.