'Significant demand' to improve Central Highlands freight infrastructure

CHDC survey expected to bolster freight infrastructure in Central Highlands

Agribusiness
FREIGHT CHALLENGES: Freight infrastructure at the fore with works progressing at CQ Inland Port.

FREIGHT CHALLENGES: Freight infrastructure at the fore with works progressing at CQ Inland Port.

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A survey has highlighted the challenges with freight infrastructure in the region.

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Half of Central Highlands exporters have identified challenges with freight infrastructure, putting the need for road and rail upgrades in the region back in the spotlight.

The call to action comes from the Central Highlands Freight Task Analysis Survey conducted in June.

Central Highlands Development Corporation business and investment attraction manager Peter Dowling said the results would help build a case for further investment in infrastructure and services to provide for more cost effective and efficient supply chains.

"The data demonstrates a significant demand to improve logistics connectivity for freight in and out of the Central Highlands," Mr Dowling said.

"This demand is only going to increase when you consider freight volumes in Australia are projected to grow by more than 35 per cent between 2018 and 2040, according to the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy."

CQ Inland Port project director Kevin Doggett said the results would help them advocate for further support from state and federal governments.

"The survey was further confirmation of a detailed study completed in 2015 by the Department of Main Roads and Transport that quantified freight imported and exported to and from the region and opportunities for supply chain savings using a multi-modal approach," Mr Doggett said.

"CQ Inland Port looks forward to working with local business in developing the intermodal terminal operation and ensuring that local business can take advantage of reduced supply chain costs."

The data demonstrates a significant demand to improve logistics connectivity for freight in and out of the Central Highlands. - Peter Dowling

The survey attracted 147 responses from major respondents including; 40.1pc agriculture, 12.9pc retail, 8.8pc manufacturing/processing, 8.2pc transport, 7.5pc mining, 6.8pc construction with 12.2pc other.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey defended his government's commitment to improving Central Highlands freight infrastructure and said it stood to benefit from the $1 billion in new and accelerated roads funding announced by the Palaszczuk government in April.

"The funding will support dozens of local jobs across the various road projects in the region identified as priorities in the state's roads program," Mr Bailey said.

"That funding is driving our economic recovery by getting projects started quickly and workers into jobs as soon as possible."

LNP transport and main roads spokesman Steve Minnikin said the upgrades would improve safety for motorists, while bolstering productivity for agricultural and resources freight.

"It won't come as surprise to those living and working in the Central Highlands that there are significant transport and road challenges facing the region, especially after the Palaszczuk government cut infrastructure spending by $12 billion," Mr Minnikin said.

"The LNP will direct more economic stimulus to building new roads and upgrade bridges. This approach will progressively unlock key principal freight routes and open up capacity for higher productivity vehicles."

The survey found 47.6pc of Central Highlands businesses export goods and materials.

Half of those surveyed identified challenges with freight options including schedules, infrastructure and ineffective costs of small loads.

The survey also found 62pc of businesses import goods and materials, with 59pc importing by road and 28.5pc via rail and air services.

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