Delivering the goods: a freight plan for Victoria

Premier Daniel Andrews met with the logistics and transport industry to discuss the future of freight in Victoria. Logistics & Materials Handling was on-hand to report.

Over the past few years there has been an unprecedented road and rail infrastructure investment across the state of Victoria. This sentiment has been backed up by the recent establishment of a dedicated freight division of Transport for Victoria and the publication of the Victorian Freight Plan.

The Victorian Freight Plan recognises that moving goods to, from and around Victoria is vital to the economy and enhances the standard of living for all. With Victoria’s rapid population growth in mind, there is an increased need for goods and services.

Victoria is only three per cent of Australia’s total land mass, but accounts for almost a quarter of Australia’s total food and fibre exports, with goods exported each year valued at $26 billion, according to the plan.

The plan identifies future challenges and opportunities that freight and logistics businesses, their employees, and local government have raised and the initiatives needed to address these.

The overall aim of the plan is to reduce the cost of doing business, improve the efficiency of moving freight while minimising adverse impacts, to better connect Victorian business to their local, interstate and export markets and to provide sufficient future capacity.

The report highlights five key priorities that the government will tackle over the next five years to ensure that Victoria has an efficient, safe and sustainable freight and logistics network. These are to manage existing and proposed freight corridors in conjunction with urban form changes, to reduce the impact of congestion, to better use rail freight assets, to plan for Victoria’s future port capacity and to stay ahead of the technology curve

Key elements of the plan include working closely with industry and the freight community to establish the roles to play in how the freight and logistics system develops and to work towards a common freight ambition.

At a recent event, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) invited Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to meet with members, sponsors, associates and other stakeholders from the freight and logistics sector to discuss the future plans for Victoria, skills shortages and how better to promote the logistics industry as a career of choice.

The event was held the Members Dining Room at Parliament House in Melbourne in August and provided a unique opportunity for industry to meet with Government to discuss Victoria’s freight future.

Action is the new normal

Introducing Daniel Andrews, Peter Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at VTA applauded the Victorian Government for defending the long-needed infrastructure developments in Victoria. He thanked the Premier for delivering on election promises and was thankful that he has the role of representing the logistics and transport industry at government level.

The Premier spoke of the successful projects the Government has delivered on, including the privatisation of the Port of Melbourne, which he described as “the biggest transport program of investment the state has ever seen”.

For the Premier, the latest developments and the speed of improvements should now shape the standard for years to come. “We have invested in the local roads you drive on every day, we have invested in public transport to address pressure points on our roads. This sense of action should be the new normal, what we’ve done over the past four years should set the tone for the future,” he said.

Representing an industry

The Premier spoke of the great job that the VTA do of representing the industry’s needs and concerns.

“Our people are our most important asset, so professional and industry associations are so important. We can never know your sector like you do,” he told those in attendance.

The Premier has some first-hand experience in the logistics industry. “I have actually driven a truck myself, while I was at university. Though, I’m not the greatest example of the craft,” Daniel said. The Premier revealed that his father ran a food processing business and that he would help out from time to time.

As a strong advocate for the industry, the Premier spoke of the respect he has for the logistics industry. “To get that freight task where it needs to be so that Victoria can capitalise on its natural advantages and pave the way for innovation and critical thinking is not underestimated here,” he said.

Recognising the great contribution that freight and logistics provides to the economy and society at large, the Premier spoke of the importance of making the industry a safe and efficient one and the part that improving infrastructure can play in that role.

Right people in the right job

 Addressing the growing skills shortage in the logistics, transport and freight sector, the Premier spoke of the importance of addressing the current skills shortage in the industry. “It’s not the communities want or desire that is a limiting factor in this development. It’s the skills and some natural resources that will hold us back,” he said.

He also recognised that there is an issue in that the general perception of what a career looks like in the logistics industry can be negative.

“We need to change the way the community views the roles in the transport industry. In this sector, if you have the right qualifications and you do a good job you will have a job for a long time and earn a good wage,” the Premier said.

To address this, the Premier declared that should the Labor government be re-elected at the November state election, it will invest $4 million dollars to deliver 800 new heavy vehicle drivers in partnership with the VTA and others.

The Premier also discussed his government’s investment in TAFE programs to help equip the next generation of workers with skills needed by the state’s growing economy. He also stated that partnering with groups like the VTA was essential to overcome the specific challenges faced by industry sectors.

An important factor for the Premier is not to miss the opportunities of developing this industry and for it to provide good jobs for the people of Victoria.

Peter Anderson thanked the Premier for his signature of intent in making the logistics industry an industry of choice and for overseeing what he claimed is biggest infrastructure agenda the nation has ever seen.

“Our industry is about people, freight and the economy that drives the standard of living we all enjoy. While over the years at times, as an industry, we have felt left behind, there is now a real focus on our industry and we are encouraged by new infrastructure, a new industry specific department in Freight Victoria and an economy that is going from strength to strength,” Peter said.