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Appendix B-Activities of the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

This appendix provides an overview of the activities of the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics in 2007-08.

Overview

In accordance with new departmental responsibilities, the Department's Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics became the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) in January 2008.

BITRE provides economic analysis, research and statistics on infrastructure and transport issues and issues affecting regional Australia, for the purpose of informing both Australian Government policy development and wider community understanding. Dissemination of the results of BITRE research and analysis contributes to better informed public debate on infrastructure, transport and regional services issues.

BITRE's annual research, analysis and statistics program is developed in the Department's business planning cycle and is available from the BITRE website www.bitre.gov.au.

BITRE also includes the Department's Climate Change Task Force, which leads the portfolio's engagement with the government's climate change policy agenda.

Research

Among its research activities during 2007-08, BITRE:

  • completed (for publication in 2008-09) updated long-term traffic projections for the AusLink network, to inform infrastructure planning, and a review of international experience of congestion charging;
  • progressed a range of projects, including an evaluation of the national AusLink Black Spot Projects program and an analysis of differences in the costs of living in Australia's regions;
  • participated in the Treasury's modelling of the economic impact of emissions-trading policy scenarios;
  • commenced a project to provide updated estimates of the economic costs of road crashes; and
  • undertook a review of the freight rate parameters underpinning the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, as part of the government's consideration of possible reforms in a 2006 Productivity Commission report.

Research publications in 2007-08 included Air passenger movements through capital city airports to 2025-26, which presents the growth outlook for Australia's major airports; and Air transport services in regional Australia - trends and access, which provides comprehensive analyses of regional aviation trends over 20 years and the accessibility of air services in regional Australia.

Statistics

BITRE holds unique collections of data on aviation, maritime and, incipiently, land transport, which are made available in a number of publications series.

In 2007-08, BITRE collaborated with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in a review of Australia's transport statistical needs. In a wide-ranging assessment, the review identified an important gap in the regular collection of national road freight activity data. The review report was circulated to the ABS's Australian Transport Statistics Network and has informed development of the strategic research and technology stream of the Australian Government's national transport strategy.

In March 2008, BITRE released Australian transport statistics yearbook 2007, the first of a new series of annual compendiums of transport statistics and trends. The compendium encompasses all modes of transport and includes chapters on transport and the economy, safety, and energy and the environment.

Other major statistical publications in 2007-08 included: Avline 11 and 12, providing a diagnostic view of the Australian air transport sector; Waterline 42 and 43, detailing wharfside and landside container port performance; Australian intercapital rail freight performance indicators 2006-07; Australian sea freight 2006-07; and About Australia's regions 2008.

BITRE issued 44 web-based releases of aviation statistics covering domestic and international aviation activity, general aviation activity and domestic on-time performance.

Publications

Table B.1 provides a comprehensive listing of BITRE's major 2007-08 publications, all of which are available as free downloads from the website www.bitre.gov.au. The table also notes how the publications contribute to the Australian Government's national research priorities. Information on these priorities can be found at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website at www.dest.gov.au.

Table B.1 Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics publications, 2007-08

  Issue Title
Reports 115 Air transport services in regional Australia: trends and access.a
Working papers 70.2 E4-post economic evaluation of National Highway projects, case study 2: Northam Bypass.b
72 Air passenger movements through capital city airports to 2025-26.a
Information papers 60 Australian sea freight 2005-06.b
61 Australian sea freight 2006-07.b
62 Australian intercapital rail freight performance indicators 2006-07.b
Information sheets 27 Public road-related expenditure and revenue in Australia (2008 update).b
Aviation statistics Monthly Airline on time performance.
International scheduled air transport.
Australian domestic airline activity.
Annual Airline on time performance.
International scheduled air transport.
Australian domestic airline activity.
Airport traffic data 1997-98 to 2006-07.
General aviation 2006.
Other major publications 10, 11 Avline.b
42, 43 Waterline.b
  About Australia's regions 2007.b
  Australian transport statistics 2007.b
  Australian transport statistics 2008.b
  About Australia's regions 2008.b
  Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme BTRE Monitoring Report No. 10 2005-06.
  Regional economic growth - BITRE's taxable income database (web only).
  Australian transport statistics yearbook 2007.b

a Contributes to National Research Priority 2 - Promoting and maintaining good health.
b Contributes to National Research Priority 4 - Safeguarding Australia.

Conferences and workshops

As part of BITRE's engagement with its stakeholders, the eighth BITRE Transport Colloquium, on the theme 'Australian Transport - Building Capacity and Competitiveness', was held at Parliament House, Canberra, in June 2008. Approximately 200 delegates took part in a program which covered topics such as transport infrastructure challenges, coping with growth in Australian aviation, climate change and international transport, and transport security. The keynote speaker was Professor Kenneth Button, from the George Mason University in the United States, who provided an international perspective on aviation as a key driver of economic growth and development.

Also in June 2008, BITRE hosted the third Regional Perspectives conference at Parliament House, Canberra, on the theme 'Understanding Sustainable Regions'. For approximately 160 delegates, the conference highlighted a number of issues affecting sustainability issues in regional Australia, including income support, household wealth, structural adjustment and adaptation to climate change. Professor Philip McCann, from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, gave a keynote address on 'Globalisation, knowledge and regions'.

Speaker presentations for both conferences can be viewed and downloaded from BITRE's website.

BITRE also hosted an urban transport modelling workshop in March 2008, in collaboration with Australian Government and state and territory government officials responsible for the Council of Australian Governments agenda to address urban congestion.

BITRE staff members gave a total of 20 presentations at a range of other seminars, conferences and government and community meetings.

International engagement

BITRE leads Australia's engagement with the International Transport Forum (ITF), part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) family of organisations. The ITF was established out of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport as a global platform for transport, logistics and mobility issues.

In May 2008, an Australian delegation, led by the Secretary of the Department, attended the inaugural ITF meeting, held in Leipzig, Germany, on the theme of 'Transport and Energy: the Challenge of Climate Change'. In total, almost 900 participants from 53 countries attended the forum. BITRE was also engaged in the early development of the 2009 ITF meeting on 'Globalisation and Transport'. Australia will co-chair the 2009 meeting with the United Kingdom.

BITRE also collaborates with the Joint OECD-ITF Transport Research Centre (JTRC) and with other JTRC members on research areas of relevance to transport and infrastructure policy in Australia. In 2007-08, a senior BITRE researcher chaired a JTRC Round Table on the theme of 'Biofuels: Linking Support to Performance' and assisted in developing the resulting discussion paper, which is available at
www.internationaltransportforum.org/jtrc/DiscussionPapers/DP200807.pdf.

Climate Change Task Force

In March 2008 the Climate Change Task Force was established as part of BITRE. The task force leads the portfolio's engagement with the Australian Government's climate change policy agenda. The task force participated in whole-of-government development of policy for the future carbon pollution reduction scheme and in development of related climate change policy directions.

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