Things we have learned

The disruption to the ‘old normal’ way of doing things has provided a great opportunity for learning lessons. Some of the highlights over 2019-20 included:

  • Changes to process or procedures can happen quickly where there is united will, open sharing of best practice, and understanding by the community — such as the lifting of curfews to help freight move better in urban areas.
  • Timely and reliable data is critical to understanding pressures in supply chains and knowing when and how to act, but the capture of data varies across modes and regions, which made it difficult to assess the immediate impacts of COVID-19 beyond anecdotal evidence.
  • Disruptions also bring the opportunity to make things better. This happened in some northern Queensland towns which had their grocery deliveries disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions. Through engaging with industry, they were able to make changes and get locally sourced produce rather than having produce that travelled thousands of kilometres.

Highlights from the year that was in...

Smarter and targeted infrastructure investment

  • The Australian Government is designing a Round ‘5A’ of the Mobile Blackspots Project to include a focus on major transport corridors and in disaster-prone regions.
  • Queensland completed two major upgrades on the Pacific Motorway (M1/M3 Merge and Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes).
  • The third and final section of the NorthLink WA road project was completed in April 2020.
  • ACT completed its Transport Corridors Study.
  • The Australian Government is developing a Ports Management Strategy for Norfolk Island. The Strategy will consider the full scope of feasible options for ports management, including location, freight solutions and ports infrastructure.

Enable improved supply chain efficiency

  • Infrastructure and Transport Ministers endorsed the National Rail Action Plan, which focuses on interoperability, common standards/harmonisation, skills and labour.
  • The Australian Government is developing a dedicated freight and supply chain page on the recently created Jobs Hub (www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/jobs-hub).
  • Western Australia launched a pilot Heavy Vehicle Advanced Skills Driver Training Program.
  • The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator commenced a trial of fatigue safety related technologies.

Better planning, regulation and coordination

  • National Cabinet agreed to the Freight Movements Protocol in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure freight continues to flow across borders safely.
  • Corridor Strategies for the Princes Highway corridor and Newell Highway corridor were completed to inform future investment in the short, medium and long term.
  • The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator issued new notices to improve consistencies across participating jurisdictions and reduce the need for permits to move specified heavy vehicles.
  • The Australian Government launched a ‘congestion busting’ project to reduce unnecessary delays in environmental approvals.
  • Northern Territory launched its Logistics Master Plan following extensive industry consultation.

Better freight location and performance data

  • The Australian Government consulted with a wide range of potential users of the National Data Hub, including through a public discussion paper and interviews, to settle the detailed design of the Hub. Outputs for the end of 2020 will include a detailed business case for government consideration and prototype Hub website that will showcase important and improved freight data, insights and projects.
  • The Australian Government commissioned a pilot study to develop a methodology for benchmarking our supply chains against international competitors.
  • New South Wales published its updated Freight Data Hub that links multiple sources of data to support evidence-driven decisions.