Australia’s freight task is growing and changing. The volume of freight carried is expected to grow by over 35% between 2018 and 2040, an increase of 270 billion tonnes (bringing the total volume to just over 1,000 billion tonne kilometres). The nature of the freight challenge is also changing in conjunction with growing population density pressures - urban freight is forecast to grow by nearly 60% over 20 years to 2040.
Failure to adequately cater for the expected increase in freight transport will increase freight network congestion around Australia and, ultimately, harm national productivity.
In 2016, Infrastructure Australia recommended that governments and industry work together to develop a ‘whole of network’ strategy that examines Australia’s freight and supply chains.
On 2 August 2019, the 20-year National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy (the Strategy) was agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments' Transport and Infrastructure Council. The Strategy sets an agenda for coordinated and well-planned government and industry action across all freight modes over the next 20 years and beyond by taking national action across four critical areas:
Smarter and targeted infrastructure investment
Enable improved supply chain efficiency
Better planning, coordination and regulation
Better freight location and performance data.
The associated National Action Plan outlines actions that governments will take to implement the Strategy. The Infrastructure Priority List includes many projects and initiatives that are referenced in the Action Plan as possible responses to the Strategy.
Governments will report to the Council of Australian Governments' Transport and Infrastructure Council in the second half of each year on their progress in delivering the Strategy and Action Plan.
The annual report will feature outcomes from the freight performance framework being established to monitor the delivery of the Strategy. It will also include input from the Australian Local Government Association and industry, who play a critical role in delivering freight outcomes.
A major review of the Strategy and Action Plan will occur every five years in consultation with industry. These reviews will ensure continuous improvement in supply chain performance, help identify gaps in government or industry actions, and increase efforts to meet Australia’s freight challenge.