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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2017
108 ALC FORUM 2017 • There was agreement that achieving a better road/rail mix in the delivery of the national freight task will help to reduce costs, deliver improved safety outcomes on our roads and produce clear environmental benefits. Communicating these benefits, both to government and to the wider community, will be absolutely crucial in building political and public support for Inland Rail. • Many speakers observed that the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy must be more than just a priority list of infrastructure projects. The Strategy must take a long-term view to ensure that the best freight links are not lost to the supply chain through encroaching residential and commercial development. • Attendees called for more effective action from government at all levels when it comes to preserving transport and logistics corridors. Unless state and local governments commit to a National Strategy that protects freight corridors from expanding residential and commercial development, then the most efficient transport and logistics solutions will become prohibitively expensive. This will, in turn, limit the nation’s capacity to achieve better economic outcomes. • There was firm recognition that the National Strategy must be backed by investment. The financial resources required to make it work will be significant over time, and will likely depend on investment from a mix of government, private and institutional sources, and possibly proceeds from asset recycling. • The National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy must also focus on the lost opportunities and continuing costs that arise from overlapping and outdated regulation within the logistics sector, especially at the state level. There is a need for greater harmonisation between state jurisdictions when it comes to regulation in this area if efficiency and economic gains are to be achieved. • There was strong support for reform of road pricing. With technological enhancements (such as GPS tracking) now making it easier than ever to monitor vehicle use, it is imperative that we move to a model where road users pay according to where and when they travel. It is clear that fuel excise is no longer raising sufficient revenue to support the road network of a 21st-century economy. • It was recognised that we must achieve a better balance between the planning needs of efficient freight transport and residential development requirements. Curfews, detours and prohibitive speed limits all impose added costs on businesses, which are ultimately borne by consumers. • Local government must be incentivised to consider national freight needs in the context of their own decision-making. Equally, state and federal governments must recognise that local government cannot be expected to pick up the cost burden of building and maintaining roads that form part of a national or export freight network.