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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2016
110 FORUM 2016 Logistics reforms for future productivity Panellists discussed the need for supply chain reforms to boost sector productivity and to support national economic growth. The challenge, though, will be in implementing workable reforms against the backdrop of growing congestion, inefficient funding models, and growing pressure on federal and state budgets. Session chair Andrew Ethell set the scene by discussing some of the positive work that is being undertaken by Infrastructure Australia to identify future reform opportunities in its 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan, including investment reform, corridor protection and improved long-term planning. Brendan Lyon, CEO of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, agreed that the IA Plan was a great start, and stressed that Australia needed market reform of the transport sector like that which occurred in the utilities sector 20 years ago. But, he warned, people do not trust government to make change. Lyon said we need to take lessons from the restructure of the electricity sector, and explain to people why change is needed, with a focus on dispelling myths and encouraging a broad-ranging community discussion. Mike Mrdak, Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, agreed, saying that IA had added authority, credibility and weight to the reforms needed in prioritising infrastructure. But, he said, it is important that both sides of politics agree, and that if politicians go outside the IA process, they can then be held to account. He said he believes that with more information and analysis of proposed projects, there is less chance that politicians will make poor funding decisions. On the topic of charging and investment reform, Mrdak said industry and government need to do more to convince the public that transport infrastructure has to be paid for. For reforms to be successful, we need broader community support. Tim Reardon, Secretary of Transport for NSW, said that over the past three or four years, bureaucracies – including New South Wales – have improved their planning processes, and have achieved a better alignment with the federal government. This includes both capital investment and regulatory reform, including the establishment of three new national transport regulators. But, he added, we can unlock more productivity gains through, for example, improved access. Reardon acknowledged that industry wants – and needs – greater access. But, he said, this will inevitably lead to increased pavement damage, which governments will need more money to deal with. This, he said, underlined the importance of doing more work in the road-pricing space. Brendan Lyon Mike Mrdak Tim Reardon Andrew Ethell, Brendan Lyon, Tim Reardon, Mike Mrdak