Six bold decisions on road freight infrastructure – including funding an inland alternative to the Bruce Highway – would put Queensland’s economy ahead of the pack in its COVID-19 recovery.
Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) chief executive officer Gary Mahon says the state needed to confront some ‘hard truths’ on untapped freight productivity improvement over the past 20 years, which had effectively strangled the efficiency of our transport sector and the competitiveness of our agricultural and manufacturing industries.
He says the road freight industry is vital for the operation and survival of the vast geographical footprint of communities and business across the nation.
“The reliance on the road freight industry has never been more profound due to the extensive and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 economic crisis with disrupted global supply chains, simmering trade tensions and weaker demand,” says Mahon.
“We need to be competitive on every metric to keep pace on the global map and keep our freight efficiency comparable. Our leading manufacturing and production industries depend on it.”
Mahon says with road freight’s role in keeping Queensland moving during COVID-19 evident, now was the time to “think big” with targeted road freight investment to boost confidence, and drive employment and economic growth.
“Road freight employs over 62,000 Queenslanders, who make sure supermarket shelves are stocked, shopping is delivered, hospitals are supplied, construction materials are on site, and our produce and goods are enjoyed here and abroad.
“With our road freight task expected to grow 26% in the next six years, a high productivity freight network in Queensland would improve efficiencies for exporters, mean fewer trucks on the road, and greater efficiencies for road freight operators who are struggling under the weight of increasing costs. In the past five years for every $1 increase in revenue there has been on average a $1.81 increase in expenses for transport operators.”
QTA’s 2020 state election blueprint outlines 6 actions on road freight infrastructure that would boost productivity and jobs as Queensland looks to unite and recover from COVID-19.
- Create a high productivity vehicle freight network by addressing blind spots in our bridge investment program – particularly in Northern, Central and South West Queensland.
- Unlock capacity of our most productive freight corridor by upgrading the Bremer River Bridge.
- Activate an Inland Queensland multi-combination Freight Route as an alternative to the Bruce Highway
- Establish a dedicated, innovative freight transport corridor from Acacia Ridge to Port of Brisbane
- Reduce congestion and increase productivity by reducing the price disincentive of toll roads.
- Build more heavy vehicle wash down facilities to enhance biosecurity and driver safety.
“We’d ask the next State Government to target its investment for the greatest impact – prioritise funding of roads and bridges that will unlock capacity for high productivity vehicles and connect these freight routes. By doing this, industry can invest in safer, more efficient vehicles, we could have an estimated 25% fewer truck movements on our roads and we’d support our leading manufacturing and production industries as we recover and rebuild our economy,” says Mahon.
Steve Minnikin, Shadow Minister for Transport and Main Roads, told Big Rigs that the QTA’s blueprint is full of common sense and practical suggestions on key freight route priorities.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government has been holding the trucking industry back over the last five years and they don’t even have a state Budget this year,” says Minnikin.
“No Budget means no economic plan which is economically reckless in the middle of a recession.
“Trucking is a crucial aspect of Queensland’s agriculture, resources and construction sector and the LNP will back it through our plan to get Queensland working again.
He says the industry itself is full of small businesses wanting secure jobs and that’s what the LNP’s economic plan will deliver.
“An LNP Government will build a stronger economy, which will mean a stronger trucking industry. Labor can’t manage Queensland’s economy, which is why the state has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
“The LNP will increase productivity through a $1 billion congestion-busting program in South-East Queensland and in addition, we will build a Second M1.
“We’ll also build a better Bruce Highway, the economic artery of Queensland.
Minnikin says investing in major road upgrades makes trucking businesses moving freight more productive and more profitable, while ensuring safer conditions for truck drivers as well.
“The LNP’s economic plan will put more money in the pockets of small business trucking operators.”
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says he welcomes the QTA’s commitment to the broader freight and supply chain in the state.
“Because of Queensland’s strong, ongoing response to the health impacts of COVID-19, the Palaszczuk Government has been able to and will continue to deliver a record $23 billion program of road and transport projects across Queensland – the fourth of five record road budgets,” he says.
“That record program has since been bolstered by another $1 billion in road stimulus funding, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars to seal outback roads and upgrade bridges, which we know many truck drivers rely on. ”
The Palaszczuk Government is delivering the $12.6 billion Bruce Highway Upgrade Program which includes important benefits for freight efficiency from projects like the Gympie Bypass, the Mackay Ring Road, the Rockhampton Ring Road and the Townsville Ring Road.
“We’ve delivered the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Bypass and more than $600 million in upgrades on the Warrego Highway with an additional $400 million in joint funding now committed to further upgrades on that corridor.
“We’ll continue to work with QTA and other stakeholders as we consider additional investment, and the QTA’s election blueprint will be an important element in our consideration of priorities for investment across Queensland.