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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2011
40 Mike Mrdak CEO, Department of Infrastructure and Transport Outlining the main initiatives for the federal government in the year ahead, Mrdak recognised the volatility of the political environment, while emphasising the major nation building initiatives facing Australia. The major challenges of the year ahead include: The government’s commitment • to return to surplus; Growth and how to manage it • across the nation; and Lifting national productivity. • In addressing these challenges, there are several key areas of focus, such as a stronger federal government role in national planning matters, for example with projects such as the Moorebank site in Sydney, Sydney aviation needs and high-speed rail along the east coast (particularly the matter of securing the appropriate land corridors). Nation building infrastructure programs are high on the agenda, with two of the important issues to be addressed including the matter of national regulation of transport, and facing up to transport pricing. Developing the right mechanisms for these is crucial because of the influence on investment decisions. Michael Byrne CEO, Linfox Safe working practices and the importance of the international context of the freight and logistics business were the key themes of Byrne’s address. According to Byrne, Linfox covered 600 million road kilometres last year, performed 7,500 drug tests on its employees internationally (with 29 failures), had 1,500 road vehicle accidents for a cost of $6.5 million, and averaged about five injuries per month. The objective, he said, was for zero injuries and zero accidents. Linfox has a global focus, with 53 per cent of its people in Asia and 24 per cent of its revenue coming from Asia. Byrne described Linfox as an Asian company that happened to be owned by Australians. He predicted that in the next 25 years China will be the world’s largest economy and that by 2050 India will be the second largest. He also mentioned that on present indications, Australia will not be in the top 20 and that by 2050, Nigeria and Vietnam will have larger economies than Australia. Half of the world’s population lives in 11 countries in Asia. He expressed significant concern that of some 70,000 students undertaking the HSC in New South Wales last year, more students studied Latin than Mandarin, and more students studied Italian than any Asian language. He strongly voiced his opinion that Australia’s future lies not with Europe and the US, but with Asia, and that we must change the education system here. The majority of graduates in the Linfox graduate program are now Asian. Asian graduates not only speak an Asian language, but are also encouraged to learn other languages such as French, English and German. Linfox employees in Vietnam are taught English, and Australian employees are taught Mandarin. Byrnes’ strong exhortation was that we are not doing enough to really think about the long-term issues facing Australia, and that this thinking needs to be addressed on many fronts by all of us. He expressed significant concern that of some 70,000 students undertaking the HSC in New South Wales last year, more students studied Latin than Mandarin, and more students studied Italian than any Asian language.