Focus on Freight: Enhancing Melbourne’s freight network

Complexities associated with Victoria’s supply chains are rarely considered by the average Melburnian, except of course when there’s a shortage of toilet paper in the middle of a pandemic!

It was this issue that most recently brought the importance of freight and logistics to the forefront of peoples’ minds.

The importance of the sector cannot be underestimated. Efficient, reliable and low-cost freight transport is critical for Victoria’s trade-exposed economy. It supports local businesses and producers, boosts job creation, improves productivity and helps ensure timely delivery of goods.

By many measures, Victoria is Australia’s freight and logistics capital. With the Port of Melbourne – Australia’s largest general cargo and container port, two curfew-free airports and an extensive road and rail network, it is the preferred state for many operators. Committee for Melbourne’s Benchmarking Melbourne 2022 report notes that Melbourne’s logistics demand is growing faster than Sydney’s and most global peer cities. Victoria should therefore ensure that the sector is supported, with realistic assumptions and plans made to future-proof the sector.

The Committee partnered with the Port of Melbourne to deliver Focus on Freight; an event that analyzed the measures needed to support the freight sector as it grapples with a raft of challenges.

Port of Melbourne Head of Planning, Andrew Varga, provided an overview of Victoria’s freight sector, including its long-term growth trajectory, the changing nature of freight movements and the impacts of new technologies and a growing population on the sector and the port itself.

Andrew was joined by Melbourne Airport’s General Manager Strategy, Justin Portelli, and Rail Freight Alliance CEO, Reid Mather, for a panel discussion in which they discussed the need for:

  • Government planning to support efficient and reliable freight activities – including an integrated transport plan which includes land-use and economic development plans.
  • Regulatory certainty to encourage private investment into the freight sector.
  • Recognising technology opportunities (e.g. automated freight transport along key routes and around key nodes).
  • Ensuring enough skilled workers are entering the sector as it grows and digitises.
  • Sea, land and air freight transportation to work in harmony.

Following the event, attendees were treated to a boat tour of the port! It was a fantastic experience for our members, who got to see up close the operations of Australia’s largest general cargo and container port.

Port of Melbourne plays a pivotal role in supporting the liveability and prosperity of all Australians and it is essential that they have full government and community support to continue to facilitate the free flow of goods.

A special thanks to event partner Port of Melbourne for hosting the event and the boat tour, as well as Andrew, Justin and Reid for their involvement.

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