The supply chain that services the Australian grains industry plays a critical role in the international competitiveness of the industry and for ensuring profitability through to the farm gate. Properly planned and well maintained freight routes are required to deliver a cost efficient pathway to market.
Unfortunately Australia’s international agricultural competitiveness is challenged by a chronic lack of investment, aging infrastructure, poor planning and cumbersome regulation. Decades of government inaction has resulted in a freight and supply chain system that leaves our grain exports unfairly burdened against trade competitors and delivers grain to domestic consumers at a higher price than necessary.
Australia’s rail networks are historically based upon state lines, operating below capacity in terms of speed limits and loading capacity and in some cases in danger of being shut down by their private operators. Regional and rural road investment is piecemeal, parochial and poorly coordinated between the three tiers of government. Ports, while expanding in number, are operating inefficiently due to a lack of throughput.
The Australian grains industry needs governments of all levels to refocus its efforts on regional areas to ensure our grain industry remains globally competitive. Initiatives to create better freight planning, an increase in infrastructure funding and a reduction in transport regulation would create a cheaper pathway to market for farmers and all supply chain participants.
GrainGrowers believes that Australia’s grain freight challenge can be addressed by tackling three key areasimproved freight routes, infrastructure investment options and better regulation.
Improved freight routes- creating an Agricultural Freight Strategy that outlines potential infrastructure projects and upgrades that will increase agricultural freight productivity and use modelling to optimise investments and determine a future pipeline of work.
Investment Options- examine existing funding mechanisms (both public, private and combinations of the two) for rural infrastructure and explore alternative methods of funding (possible road pricing schemes, remodelling existing grant schemes and preparing the rail projects for investment)
Regulation- identification of impediments and development of solutions, including for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, Port Access Code and National Access Regime.
GrainGrowers believes this is a critical juncture for the Australian grains industry. With 30% of the cost of getting grain to port consumed by freight costs our industry needs to manage costs to remain globally competitive and grain needs to move faster, more efficiently and safer than ever before.