Several weeks ago the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, released the long awaited National Freight Strategy – and for us it has real ramifications. The strategy is allied to the previously released National Ports Strategy and combined they aim to be principal drivers for our national economy. A similar freight strategy for NSW is due to be released in the very near future – and the state and national strategies should complement each other and can get our national freight networks fully efficient and operational.
It is sobering to understand that containers crossing our wharves (and Port Botany is second to the Port of Melbourne in import/export throughput) will rise by 150 per cent between now and 2030 and that air freight will increase by 110 per cent in the same period. The new terminal at Port Botany is nearing completion and the number of containers handled by the expanded port will increase to 3.2 million a year. We need the freight networks and we need to get Port Botany’s containers on to rail and off our roads. If we don’t we’ll see more than 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 more container trucks on our roads and clogging up the M5East.
One thing that did concern me in the National Freight Strategy was the suggestion that B-Triples will me allowed on more roads, including those connected to ports. For Sydney this means the M5East, Southern Cross Drive and the Eastern Distributor. Put B-Triples on these roads and the congestion we currently have will seem like nothing. The Australian Government must link both rail and road upgrades with any implementation of its freight and port strategies. If not then we’re facing a congestion disaster. Knowing Anthony Albanese, and with my involvement in the NSW Freight Advisory Council, I know action on increasing rail as a freight transport mode is a given. It’s action on roads, like the M5East that must come as well.