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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2018
78 ALC FORUM 2018 The Hon Anthony Albanese MP – Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, delivered a keynote address which provided attendees with some insights into the federal Opposition’s infrastructure policy priorities. Albanese began by highlighting the centrality of infrastructure issues in day- to-day political discourse, noting that this is a drastic shift from a decade ago, when ‘infrastructure’ was not a word often uttered around kitchen tables. In his view, this is a positive development, because infrastructure planning and investment is a vital component of economic activity, and the consequences of decisions made last far beyond the political cycle. Albanese also noted that the development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy would assist in promoting greater consistency and long-term thinking in infrastructure investment. He noted that the government was not starting from ‘ground zero’, and said that the National Land Transport Strategy and National Port Strategy completed under the last ALP Government provided a solid foundation. It is important to build on that work, and not let it go to waste. He said that the Strategy must facilitate a greater integration of the national freight task. Traditionally, the task has been divided by mode and jurisdiction, but that is no longer applicable to Australia’s contemporary economic framework. Albanese said that just as rail is at the heart of moving people around Australia’s cities, it should also be at the heart of our national freight network. In his view, rail can do the job more safely, at lower costs and with a smaller carbon footprint. He pointed to the 36-kilometre dedicated freight line at Port Botany and support for the Moorebank Intermodal facility as evidence of Labor being prepared to invest in the right sort of infrastructure – and noted the need for duplication of the Port Botany line to occur quickly. He reaffirmed the ALP’s support for Inland Rail, but expressed frustration at the slow pace of the project, and said that it was important to get it right. He also stressed the importance of road infrastructure in supporting a growing freight task, noting that it was Labor that completed the Hume Highway duplication project and accelerated the Pacific Highway upgrade. Albanese lamented the state of Australian coastal shipping, which is the same size today as it was 40 years ago. He pointed to this as an example of what occurs when infrastructure policy falls victim to political cycles, and said that more needed to be done to promote bipartisanship in the area, so that momentum is not lost if there is a change of government. In concluding, he expressed concern at the projected decline in infrastructure spending over the next decade, and expressed hope that the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy might turn this around. However, for that to occur, the Strategy will need to be more than merely a statement of intentions, but also offer a clear plan for investment. The Hon Anthony Albanese MP