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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2018
55 FUTURE FREIGHT NETWORKS 2018 ALC OPINIONS Likewise, much work is needed to ensure that the regulatory frameworks that govern the use of freight facilities are compatible with the realities of today’s consumer market, which is increasingly driven by expectations of rapid delivery. It will be difficult for the freight logistics industry to meet Australia’s growing freight task if our transport infrastructure and freight facilities are burdened by increasingly onerous restrictions limiting their use – such as curfews, truck bans on certain routes and prohibitive speed limits – or if regulatory frameworks conceived in a pre-internet age are not modernised. Many regulations that affect the operation of Australia’s air, rail, maritime and road freight networks were conceived more than two decades ago – long before anyone had heard of a smartphone, and when online shopping was still the exclusive preserve of a small band of technology enthusiasts. Today’s world is vastly different. The exponential growth of ecommerce means that there is substantially more freight moving though our networks, and consumers today expect far more rapid delivery times than they did in the mid 1990s. Although construction of Western Sydney Airport will undoubtedly play an important role in addressing some of these capacity issues, it is still several years away from operating. Yet, the pressures faced by freight logistics operators are immediate, driven not only by population growth, but also by rising exports resulting from the free trade agreements Australia has signed. Figures released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade just last week confirmed that exports grew five per cent last year. Australia is a national economy, and our supply chains do not stop at state borders. Delays in the movement of freight in one part of the network have a substantial flow-on effect nationwide. Already, capacity constraints and outdated regulatory frameworks are having an effect, not just on consumers through higher prices, but also on all Australians though lower rates of economic and employment growth. Developing a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is our best chance to comprehensively address that situation. We can’t afford to get it wrong.