Ports Australia has responded to the 2018/19 Budget, stressing that a stronger economy and more liveable cities requires a balanced freight network being used to its potential.

Ports Australia CEO, Mike Gallacher, said there are a number of good measures in the budget being directly spent improving the supply chain to the nations ports and economy.

“These include $400 million to the Port Botany freight line duplication, $14.2 million towards the Port Melbourne rail shuttle, $2 million to duplicate the Tourle Street Bridge in Newcastle, and $2 million towards planning for Gladstone’s port access road,” Mr Gallacher said.

“The rolling $75 billion infrastructure spend needs to address areas of inefficiencies in the supply chain but we can also increase efficiencies without spending taxpayer dollars which is why a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is crucial.

“To manage the future freight task, government must also consider the current untapped capacity of the network and to use that effectively.

“Container freight alone is predicted to grow by 165 per cent by 2031, outstripping population growth.”

Mr Gallacher said the Federal Government’s Inquiry into the National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities identified that while the freight task is projected to double in the next 20 years, even with extra investment, Australian transport infrastructure will be unable to meet this demand.

“Legislative changes, like reforming coastal shipping regulations, will instantly add capacity to our supply chain free of charge and unlock capacity already at our ports.

“Increasing coastal shipping will create jobs in regional Australia, help alleviate congestion through our cities, breathe life into the shipping and shipbuilding industry, and increase skills in the maritime industry essential for an island nation and its strategic naval security.

“Improving the efficiency and capacity in and out of the port will directly impact and reduce the congestion of cities, more liveable cities need better connected ports.

“Congestion costs the economy $16 billion a year, a holistic approach to freight can reduce congestion much more effectively than a $1 billion Band-Aid on road bottlenecks.

“By leveraging the capacity that exists within all ports and supply chains, and by designing national solutions to the incoming freight challenge, we can make huge gains in our ability to handle the freight task without costing the taxpayer.

“Similarly reducing the regulatory cost around channel maintenance will allow ports to create capacity for the next generation of larger ships bound for our shores.

“The country’s freight task begins and ends at the port, handling 98 per cent of all trade, so any efficiencies made to the way they operate or their connectivity to the wider supply chain is a huge benefit to the rest of the country.”

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