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Transport systems which are more efficient and internationally competitive

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Major projects
Policy advice
Aviation
International
Transport research
Priority: Rail reform including work on revitalisation of the national rail freight network
Priority: Freight logistics reform
Priority : Transport infrastructure

Major projects

Over the last year, we have continued to work towards a more efficient intermodal transport system. Major projects in the development of this system include:

  • Development of AusLink to help meet the challenges that lie ahead for Australia's land transport network. AusLink represents a new approach to land transport infrastructure planning and funding and aims to improve efficiency and maintain sustainable economic growth, development and connectivity at the national and regional levels.
  • Establishment of the Australian Logistics Council to bring together the freight transport industry and non-transport logistics service providers to form a more effective logistics industry.
  • Leading the establishment of the National Transport Commission to development nationally consistent road, rail and intermodal transport regulatory arrangements.
  • Addressing developments in the aviation sector in relation to competition, such as the proposed Qantas-Air New Zealand commercial alliance, the Qantas-British Airways Joint Services Agreement and the Qantas Sale Act 1992.
  • Implementation of principles for regional aviation policy.
  • Continued to negotiate with the NSW Government on the proposal for the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to lease the NSW mainline interstate track.

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Policy advice

The department also provided advice in relation to a range of wider government policies including competition policy and tax policy. In this context, the department made submissions to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into automotive assistance, and the Dawson Review of the Trade Practices Act 1974. The department has also contributed to the Prime Minister's Energy Task Force process.

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Aviation

Continuing volatility in the global aviation industry is the result of external factors such as the global economic market slowdown, the war on terror and SARS. This has had a significant impact on tourism growth and the slowdown in demand has resulted in the rationalisation of aviation services, particularly on international routes. Pressure remains on the aviation sector (both airlines and airports) to achieve profitability while delivering high quality services at reasonable costs in the longer term.

A major challenge for the recently privatised airports in Australia is to balance the operating requirements of the airport with community concerns in relation to the environment.

The department worked towards improving the aviation industry's ability to adjust to market conditions and reduce barriers to entry by:

  • reviewing ownership and competition developments in relation to ACCC reviews of Qantas' commercial alliances with Air New Zealand and British Airways
  • review of the Qantas Sale Act 1992
  • achieving liberal outcomes from bilateral air service negotiations
  • implementation of principles for regional aviation policy
  • progressing the implementation of the mutual recognition of aviation-related safety certification with New Zealand
  • addressing policy and regulatory issues associated with the sale of the Sydney Basin Airports.

The department provided policy and regulatory advice in support of the government's consideration of the sale of Bankstown, Camden and Hoxton Park Airports (known collectively as the Sydney Basin Airports).

Following the government's announcement in April 2003 to proceed with the sale of the Sydney Basin Airports, we provided extensive support to the Department of Finance and Administration to ensure that the sale process met the objectives and requirements of the Airports Act 1996.

The government's approach to aviation has been to minimise intervention and to maximise opportunities for greater competition within a sustainable international and domestic aviation sector.

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International

The government is pursuing a liberalisation agenda for international air services through the system of bilateral agreements that govern access to international markets. Its aim is to negotiate greater access for international carriers into and out of Australia. The government is also seeking to open gateways in regional Australia through the regional airports access package, for all designated international airports other than Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. A longer term goal is to push for a broader and more liberal approach to international aviation access through multilateral forums such as APEC, General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and ICAO.

Aligned with the liberalisation of air services with New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Mutual Recognition with New Zealand and Other Matters) Bill 2003 was introduced into parliament on 25 June 2003. The Bill will, if enacted, amend the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and put into effect an historic joint Australian and New Zealand commitment to mutually recognise each other's aviation-related safety certification. This initiative would remove a regulatory barrier to airlines taking up commercial opportunities available under trans-Tasman air services arrangements without affecting safety.

The department also continued to administer the Airports Act 1996 regulatory regime to protect the interests of airport users and the general public while promoting efficient economic development and operation of airports.

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Transport research

The results of Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics research and information products underpin transport policy development and contribute to better-informed public debate on transport issues. The bureau produced 10 research and statistical publications in 2002-03 contributing toward an improved understanding of economic and social factors influencing the efficiency and international competitiveness of transport systems. These included:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Transport-Australian Trends To 2020 (Report 107)

  • Improving transport on the Warringah Peninsula-issues and options (Working Paper 50)

  • Avline (Issues 1 and 2), a biannual publication reporting key statistical information about aviation sector performance

  • Waterline (Issues 32, 33 and 34), reporting on the efficiency and reliability of Australian waterfront and port operations

  • Transport Indicators, monthly updated web statistics ranging across all transport modes-these products inform government policy on the various transport modes

  • Australian Transport Statistics (June 2003), an annually updated booklet that provides basic information and key facts on the Australian transport sector

  • Australian Sea Freight, 2000-01, Information Paper 48, an annually updated publication monitoring sea freight activity, including information on domestic and international sea freight, Australian port activity and the Australian Merchant Fleet

  • Freight Rates in Australia, Information Sheet 19, presenting 30-year trends in Australian road, rail, sea and air non-bulk freight rates

  • Australia's seaborne containerised freight-forecasts to 2010-11 (Working Paper 50), which examines trends in international sea container trade and provides forecasts of the volume of this trade (in terms of the number of boxes coming into and out of Australia). The report is an important information base for the AusLink strategic planning process, the stevedoring levy scheme and the current review of seaport security.

The BTRE collected, maintained and published a large range of transport statistics on its website, offering regular monthly or quarterly updates on Australian aviation, maritime, road and rail transport. Many of these collections are unique and represent the sole source of data available for policy and programme development and research in Australia on particular transport modes.

For information about the BTRE's research programme and access to BTRE statistics and publications visit www.btre.gov.au or contact 02 6274 7210.

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Priority: Rail reform including work on revitalisation of the national rail freight network

The government established the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) in 1998 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of rail track management and infrastructure for the interstate rail network, and provide a 'one stop shop' arrangement for rail operators seeking access to the interstate rail network.

To date the ARTC manages rail infrastructure and/or access from Perth in Western Australia to Broken Hill and Albury in NSW. The government has also used the ARTC as a vehicle to implement its reforms on the interstate rail network.

The key to achieving significant and lasting improvement in track access arrangements on the eastern seaboard of Australia resides with the Commonwealth and ARTC's negotiations with NSW to lease NSW track related to the interstate rail network. The lease proposal would provide enormous opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase rail's market share.

The Commonwealth has focused its efforts over the last 12 months on the lease negotiations and directly linked future investment in mainline track upgrades in NSW with ARTC efforts to negotiate satisfactory arrangements for the management of the interstate track in that state. Since submitting the proposal to NSW in mid 2002, the department and the ARTC have worked through the proposal carefully with NSW to address any NSW concerns.

In May 2003 the Commonwealth and NSW transport ministers announced a core set of negotiating principles that will determine the shape of the final agreement. The Commonwealth is hopeful of completing negotiations within a timeframe that would enable the ARTC to take up management of the leased network during the second quarter of 2004.

The department, through its role as a member on the Standing Committee on Transport's (SCOT) Rail Group, is developing performance targets for the interstate rail network that will help government identify infrastructure investment requirements. Rail Group is one of the transport modal groups established by SCOT to advise Australian transport ministers on cross-jurisdictional transport issues in Australia.

The department is facilitating development of the Melbourne to Darwin Inland Railway proposal by Australian Transport and Energy Corridor Limited and its commercial partners. The private sector is driving this significant infrastructure development project. The department has funded a number of pre-feasibility studies connected with the development of the proposal.

The department is also funding a study with the Victorian Department of Infrastructure into the feasibility of double stacking into the Melbourne Port precinct to be undertaken this coming year. Double stacking has the potential to significantly increase operator yields and improve the competitiveness of the industry. This study will provide a decisive insight into the feasibility of double stacking on key interstate rail corridors including into Sydney and on some regional corridors.

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Priority: Freight logistics reform

Freight logistics is about the sourcing, purchasing, packaging, transporting, storage and delivery of goods across the entire supply chain from producer to consumer. It is a significant sector of the economy with conservative estimates indicating that it is worth about $57 billion or 9 per cent of GDP (1999-00).

Freight logistics provides vital value-added services to the Australian business community and is essential to domestic and global trade. Given the anticipated doubling of Australia's freight task over the next 20 years, it is vital that we create a globally competitive and dynamic Australian logistics industry operating effectively across all transport modes to boost the nation's overall competitiveness and economic performance.

To achieve this, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon John Anderson MP, and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, launched the Australian Logistics Industry Strategy on 17 July 2002.

The recommendations contained within the strategy cover five key priority areas: leadership, infrastructure, people, innovation through technology and knowledge, and sustainability. The strategy is world leading, developed jointly by industry and governments and provides a blueprint to create a responsive, dynamic, competitive and sustainable industry.

The Australian Logistics Council was established to guide the strategy's implementation and develop linkages with the broader industry. The council comprises over 20 industry leaders, representing providers and users of freight logistics services, and several high-level Commonwealth and state government officials.

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Priority : Transport infrastructure

Development of AusLink, the government's new approach to land transport infrastructure planning and funding, was a major focus of relations with states and territories during 2002-03. Advice and comments were sought from a wide range of stakeholders including state, territory and local governments on key aspects of how AusLink might operate.

All levels of government contributed to development of a planning process and identification of a strategic national transport network. Advice was provided through the Australian Transport Council, working groups set up on specific AusLink components, and at bilateral meetings.

Major achievements in the development of AusLink over 2002-03 were:

  • release of a Green Paper on 7 November 2002 for widespread public discussion and comment
  • a consultation phase involving 143 meetings in 40 locations in regional and metropolitan Australia
  • receipt and analysis of some 550 submissions-submissions can be accessed on the department's website www.dotars.gov.au/ or www.dotars.gov.au/transport/auslink/index.aspx
  • development of advice to the government on implementation of AusLink and the intended release of a White Paper on land transport infrastructure policy later in 2003.

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