Promises, Promises, Promises

Getting With the Program

The trucking industry needs to make sure the latest infrastructure announcements aren’t just promises, promises, promises. The planned improvements are rational and will help trucking do its job into the future, but this is before the politicians have got fully involved.

Projected growth in the Australian population, economy and cities tells us the art of getting goods from A to B in the next twenty or so years is going to get more and more difficult. With Melbourne and Sydney heading for a population of over 8 million each before 2050, the urban sprawl and road congestion we are dealing with today is going to increase many-fold. In the same period freight demand is expected, as an example, between Melbourne and Brisbane, to nearly triple by 2050.

We have been hearing these kinds of telephone numbers being quoted throughout this century and the experts are constantly banging on about the need to prepare for the coming tide of freight. I have attended seminars aimed at bringing the message home to those who make the decisions and heard a lot of knowledgeable talk about what needs to be done.

The resulting research and studies done by bodies like Infrastructure Australia look at the figures provided to them by the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics. Then IA comes up with reports which are rational and drive home the likely effects of the kinds of economic growth we can expect to see.

Yet another report has emerged this week and all of the requirements the infrastructure decision makers need to fulfil are set out in a prioritised way to help government make the big infrastructure building decisions.

The politicians will welcome the information and make the right kinds of noises about taking the data on board and acting accordingly. The industry associations involved come out in support of the report and emphasise the parts of the report which will help their sector the most.

NatRoad CEO, Warren Clarke, makes the point clearly, “Reduction of congestion through investment in better road infrastructure is a great win for the freight industry and all Australians,” said Warren. “The road freight industry keeps Australia moving. Our industry is vital to the nation’s economic prosperity and standard of living enjoyed by communities within both urban and rural settings.”

He congratulates the politicians who have made announcements made in the wake of the infrastructure report announcement. They commit to spending to make sure the news this week includes them doing something about the issues the report highlights.

“An export-driven economy like Australia must do everything possible to eliminate capacity constraints in our freight networks if we wish to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market,” said Michael Kilgarriff, Australian Logistics Council Managing Director. “Accordingly, ALC urges governments to pay particular attention to key freight-related initiatives IA has identified in this year’s list.”

The problem comes in the execution of these fine ideals. Unfortunately the timescale for infrastructure project spending is longer than our crazy election cycles. The result is, the governments notes the findings and tells us the solution to the issues will be a priority. They promise to be responsible and do their duty.

If they don’t deliver on their promises, the chances are they are no longer in power and can deflect any blame to the next incumbent.

Promises, Promises, Promises

The report emphasises the need to improve infrastructure for freight transport to cope with the future. However, in an election period the votes of the trucking industry pale in comparison to the votes of car driving commuters. Infrastructure projects which ease car congestion are worth more than those to improve goods transport, to a struggling politician.

This is why we need to keep this pressure up from now until we see the kind of infrastructure we need to enable us to transport the goods which will keep the consumers happy. An ongoing campaign, keeping these promises front of mind is necessary. Otherwise it will be business as usual, promises, promises, promises.

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