Continuing growth in freight volumes has given rise to a range of increasingly complex challenges for the Australian community. In recognition of this all levels of government and industry have agreed on the need to apply a national focus and effort to deliver a streamlined, integrated and multimodal transport and logistics system, capable of efficiently moving freight throughout Australia.
Governments collaborate on a range of initiatives to improve the outcomes of the national freight system. These centre on the themes of integrated planning, better data and performance, community engagement and complementary measures.
The national key freight routes map has been developed through the collaboration of Commonwealth, state and territory governments and industry, to develop a more comprehensive understanding of Australia's freight system.
The map will assist governments and industry to better understand, and plan for, critical freight flows, and will be maintained to inform a range of national transport infrastructure policy, regulatory, planning and operational issues. It provides a detailed picture of the road and rail routes connecting Australia's nationally significant places for freight.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) provides economic analysis, research and statistics on infrastructure, transport and regional development issues as well as general maritime activity, forecasts of activity in Australian ports, sea freight movements and other maritime transport information. The data is used to inform the Department in order to advise the Australian Government on policy development and to promote wider community understanding. The ongoing series Freightline, Trainline and Waterline provide current Australian transport-related data and the information is utilised in a wide range of land freight and port initiatives.
The Investment Road and Rail Programme provides funding to projects on key freight routes that will deliver the highest benefits to the nation. When completed, these projects will significantly improve the efficiency and safety of the National Land Transport Network, allowing freight supply chains to operate more effectively.
The Heavy Vehicle National Law (NHVL) covers all heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The law covers matters relating to vehicle standards, mass dimensions and loadings, fatigue management, the Intelligent Access Program, heavy vehicle accreditation and on-road enforcement. In August 2011 an Intergovernmental Agreement on Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform was signed by COAG (except Western Australia) setting out the principles and processes to implement the decision to deliver a national heavy vehicle regulatory system. The signing of this agreement recognised that the Commonwealth and the States and Territories have a mutual interest in improving national regulation and a need to work together to achieve productivity and safety outcomes.
The Australian Government funds two programmes which are aimed at alleviating the cost of transporting eligible freight and passenger vehicles across Bass Strait. They are the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme and the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme.
Port master planning
The Department is working with the states, territories and industry to assist with master planning of ports. Port master plans help clarify and communicate a port's vision. They also provide a strategic framework for port authorities to consider a range of internal and external factors that may impact on current and/or future operations. The Department collaborated with the ports industry to prepare port master planning leading practice guidelines in 2013, to support individual ports' efforts.
There is a need to engage effectively with the community on the value and importance of the freight task. The Department is working with industry and all tiers of government in a process to enhance community awareness of the freight task—including the role of freight and freight movements, in the national economy and individuals' quality of life aspirations. A compendium of case studies PDF: 280 KB DOCX: 309 KB and research on community engagement around the freight task has been developed as the basis for future collaboration between government and the community.