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Transport infrastructure not up to speed with agriculture

11 November 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has called on the Government to renew its investment in road, rail and port infrastructure following the release of a RIRDC report this week which highlights that current funding is inadequate.

NFF President Jock Laurie says the findings of the RIRDC agricultural transport infrastructure report will come as no surprise to farmers.

“Transport infrastructure is a big ticket item, and the RIRDC report clearly shows that there is a need for long-term planning for agricultural infrastructure in order to meet the future needs of our farming sector,” Mr Laurie said.

“Australia’s freight network forms the veins and arteries which drive productivity in the Australian economy. The RIRDC report highlights that Government’s do not have a clear understanding of the health of these networks, and how these networks are being used now, let alone in the future.

“The report found that the current state of infrastructure is lacking in the areas of funding, maintenance and proper planning – all issues that the NFF has long raised with the Government in looking at transport infrastructure solutions for our farmers.

“Australian farmers have been doing their bit to increase farm productivity and improve efficiency, but we are being let down by poor investment and planning for infrastructure required to get produce to consumers, processors and ports.

“We’ve been welcoming of the development of a National Ports Strategy and a National Land Freight Strategy but we have learnt from experience that such plans can get bogged down in a fight between Federal, State and Local Government.

“The RIRDC report could not have come at a more apt time, with grain harvest now underway across many parts of Australia utilising our road, rail and port infrastructure.

“Harvest places considerable pressure on the transport system, which is why the infrastructure needs to be robust and reliable, without delays, damage or loss of produce. And, in many areas, the emergence of other industries that rely on the same transport infrastructure, such as mining, means extra strain on the existing system.

“We want to see clear progress on the National Ports Strategy and the National Land Freight Strategy, and have confidence that the development of these strategies are properly informed and resourced to match the needs of rural Australia.

“The RIRDC report has highlighted the gaps that exist, and we await the Government’s response with interest,” Mr Laurie said.

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