Northern Australia white paper underway

Northern Australia white paper underway

THE Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory recently agreed to join a new Strategic Partnership to inform the development and implementation of Australia’s first Northern Australia White Paper.

Northern Australia is broadly defined as the parts of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn, spanning Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland; an area of approximately three million square kilometres with a population of around one million people.

The White Paper will set out a clear, well-defined and timely policy platform for promoting the development of Northern Australia with a view to more investment, infrastructure, jobs and services, , including a plan for implementing these policies over the next two, five, 10 and 20 years..

The White Paper will provide pathways to harness opportunities which capitalise on the region’s strengths, including ways to advance trade, cultural and investment links with the Asia Pacific region, and to provide the best regulatory and economic environment for business.  It will also identify the critical infrastructure needed to support the long-term growth of the region, ways to incentivise public and private planning and investment while tackling impediments to growth.

The Strategic Partnership will be supported by an Advisory Group made up of business, community and Indigenous leaders of the north. This group will meet for the first time in the coming months.

A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia has also been formed, chaired by the Hon Warren Entsch MP, which is making a valuable contribution to the Government’s agenda for the north. This Committee will commence community consultation next month and report to Parliament in July.

Aligning with the focus of the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the QTLC is engaging with government to highlight the importance of increasing access along the Inland Freight Corridor to deliver productivity and safety benefits for the movement of livestock, agricultural commodities and general freight between South East and Far North Queensland.

The government will produce a White Paper on Developing Northern Australia within 12 months.  More information regarding the White Paper can be found at http://northernaustralia.dpmc.gov.au/.

Cutting livestock transport costs: CSIRO

Cutting livestock transport costs: CSIRO

A significant upgrade to Queensland’s inland highway network could substantially reduce transport costs for the livestock industry, new research from Australia’s scientific research body has found.

The CSIRO has developed a suite of mapping tools to analyse the worth of small and large infrastructure projects to the livestock sector.

It found that upgrading 510km of highway between Clermont and Roma to accommodate type 2 road trains and removing tick clearing requirements for cattle being taken to slaughter could save the industry $75.6 million – a 19 per cent reduction in livestock transport costs.

The tools also found that building a new abattoir at Darwin could provide a $13.2 million dollar fillip to seven Northern Territory property owners, who currently send cattle an average of 2,047km to Queensland abattoirs. The CSIRO says the new abattoir would reduce average distance travelled to 835km.

The CSIRO spent two years developing the tools, which incorporate data from more than 50,000 properties, 88,000 origin to destination combinations and more than 1.5 million recorded vehicle movements.

The tools take into account truck configuration, livestock weight and changing road conditions.

Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Federal Government funded the research to address a shortfall in information on infrastructure investment.

 The report Livestock Industry Logistics: Optimising Industry Capital Investment and Operations and the suite of tools are available online at www.csiro.au/livestocklogistics

Productivity Commission inquiry into public infrastructure: Draft report released

In 2013, the Australian Government initiated an inquiry into ways to encourage private financing and funding for major infrastructure projects, including issues relating to the high cost and the long lead times associated with these projects.

Undertaken by the Productivity Commission, the inquiry considered costs, competitiveness and productivity in the provision of nationally significant economic infrastructure and examined ways to:

  • address any barriers to private sector financing, including assessing the role and efficacy of alternative infrastructure funding and financing mechanisms, and to recommend mechanisms and operating principles to overcome such barriers;
  • reduce infrastructure construction costs.

A draft report released by the Productivity Commission on the 13th March 2014 has identified an abundance of flaws, mythologies and forgone opportunities in infrastructure financing, funding and procurement.

The Commission draft outlines a proposed process for improving infrastructure investment across all levels of government; and as a consequence attracting increased private investment.

The Commission also proposes to examine further a number of potential improvements to financing mechanisms for infrastructure, including options proposed to address specific concerns related to the role of superannuation funds in greenfields projects.

The report specifically devotes thought to road user pricing, both the scope for institutional reform and the opportunities for future pricing of new and upgraded roads investment.

On infrastructure costs, the draft report finds these could be significantly reduced through the adoption of better practice procurement processes by governments.

The Commission is seeking written feedback on the draft report by 4 April, and will hold public hearings in early April. A final report will be provided to the Australian Government in late May 2014.

Further information can be found on the Productivity Commission’s website http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/infrastructure/draft.

ARTC to investigate incorporating Queensland into national rail network

THE Federal and Queensland Government have agreed to investigate incorporating.

On 25th February, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson announced an investigation into expanding the ARTC’s 8,500km national network to incorporate Queensland’s regional rail network.

The ARTC was created as a one-stop shop for Commonwealth and State Governments in 1997 and is responsible for 8500kms of track in Australia.  This includes a 94km section between the NSW border and Acacia Ridge, which was transferred to the ARTC in 2010.

Mr Emerson said ARTC officers would begin working with Queensland Rail staff immediately and would report back to the Queensland and Federal governments by mid-year.

The Queensland rail freight network includes about 6600km of track outside south-east Queensland.

Toowoomba 2nd range crossing announced

Toowoomba 2nd range crossing announced

image02The State and Federal Governments have given the green light to the Toowoomba 2nd Range Crossing (TSRC). The Announcement was made on 31 January 2014, and the procurement phase has already begun with “Register of Interest” being open to interested parties, documentation is available on the Projects Queensland website.

Toowoomba is a transport network hub for the Darling Downs and a gateway to the developing energy sector in the Surat Basin. With the Warrego, New England and Gore Highways converging in Toowoomba en route to and from the east it has become a focal point for both interstate and intrastate freight movement. Increasing traffic volumes are putting pressure on the highway network that passes through Toowoomba and over the Toowoomba Range.

The TSRC is a bypass route to the north of Toowoomba, approximately 41km in length, running from the Warrego Highway at Helidon in the east to the Gore Highway at Athol in the west via Charlton and is expected to be ready for commencement by 2015.

The project is the largest Commonwealth Government commitment to a single regional road project in Queensland history.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls said “Modelling shows over the next 30 years, the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing will help bring about a $2.4 billion increase in productivity in the Toowoomba region alone, boosting national productivity by $3.1 billion.”

The QTLC will closely follow the development of the specifications for the TSRC and will engage with industry and government to identify and promote tangential infrastructure, planning and policy that will leverage additional efficiency and productivity benefits.

The Heavy Vehicle National Law commenced on 10th February

On 10 February 2014 the Heavy Vehicle National Law 2012 (HVNL) commenced, replacing existing laws governing the operation of all vehicles over 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

The NHVR will provide streamlined and practical operations for heavy vehicle access, accreditation, vehicle standards and fatigue management, and will continue to take measures to evolve into your one-stop-shop for heavy vehicle road transport business with government. The NHVR will continue to manage NHVAS accreditation and PBS design and vehicle approvals
The NHVR will be delivering the following services in those states and territories where the law has commenced:

  • issuing permits for heavy vehicle access, together with new forms for access applications
  • NHVAS approvals
  • PBS vehicle design and vehicle access approvals
  • consistent compliance and enforcement
  • a new risk classification system for advanced fatigue management
  • vehicle inspection standards

For more information, visit www.nhvr.gov.au.