This week, in Sydney, the Premier of NSW, the Hon Barry O’Farrell, released the draft ‘NSW Transport Master Plan.’
The Premier was flanked by the Minister for Transport, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian, and the Minister for Roads and Ports, the Hon Duncan Gay. The message was pretty clear: the Premier was out in front, giving his personal support to two Ministers who are widely acknowledged as being amongst the best performers on his team.
Unless you’re safely out of reach in WA or lucky enough to operate up in FNQ, it’s almost impossible to run a transport company without having to pass through NSW from time to time.
And as the biggest State, with a third of the nation’s population, a third of the economy and a third of the nation’s land mass, when NSW starts pushing an agenda you can be sure that other States are looking on with interest – and that includes even WA.
In short, anyone who’s interested in the future of transport in Australia needs to be aware of the key proposals that are sitting inside this 370-page Plan.
Right here and right now, there’s good news for rural transport in the draft Master Plan.
The Government’s moving ahead with its Bridges to the Bush program, which will systematically replace or upgrade old, weak or narrow bridges.
Those bridges are one of the big barriers to improving freight productivity in NSW. They create breaks in current heavy vehicle routes for B-Doubles and Road Trains. They create major issues for anyone trying to run at HML. They will also create problems for the livestock loading scheme that’s going to be up and running in NSW in very near future.
It’s a financially smart move from the NSW Government. With the Commonwealth Government having decided to make the national Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program into a permanent road funding program, NSW is going to be well placed to offer the Feds dollar-for-dollar matching. NSW may be able to capture the lion’s share of HVSPP funding.
That will accelerate the O’Farrell Government’s ability to finally fix these long-standing problems and get rural freight productivity moving in the right direction.