Monday 16th April 2018
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New Zealand's government needs to get some tangible wins with its national transport strategy in building a more efficient, resilient and sustainable freight network to avoid returning to an uncoordinated policy, says Mainfreight chief executive Don Braid.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford and his associates Julie Anne Genter and Shane Jones today hosted a summit in Wellington to discuss the draft government policy statement on land transport, which for the first time brings rail into the national land transport plan and will likely extend to coastal shipping in a second iteration of the policy within 12 months. Twyford told media the policy was effectively a national strategy - something the previous administration was reluctant to pursue - and that the government wants to get the best from road, rail, coastal shipping, freight hubs, and all the other components connecting the system.
Mainfreight's Braid - who was part of a panel discussion at the summit - has long advocated a national transport strategy and lamented the level of investment in state-owned KiwiRail.
"This approach is good and the warning I’ve said to them today is they need to make sure, they’ve only got a short term so they've got to get on and get some examples done and operating so there's general support for it and it doesn’t change in another three years' time," Braid told BusinessDesk. "It needs to be a strategy that’s around for a long period of time. Not just for our sake but for transport infrastructure in this country."
The draft policy statement was released earlier this month and noted an update will investigate enabling funding for alternative transport modes such as rail and coastal shipping.
Braid said the country's ports need to be included in the strategy and are an integral part of the nation's transport infrastructure.
"There’s 13 ports in this country and they're all fighting for their survival and the only winner is the shipping lines," he said. "Whereas we could get a more effective supply chain if we had a far better strategy that involved ports as a total part of what we do. I mean we’re an export nation for god's sake and we need to be as effective as we can in that supply chain."
Twyford today said the upper North Island logistics and supply chain study will form an important part of the picture and that the government will work with industry and stakeholders to build a more efficient, sustainable and reliable system.
"It's just about getting the best out of all modes - road rail, coastal shipping - and government has to be a smart investor in the infrastructure that links it all together," Twyford said. "It has to be made on the basis of public investment. That’s where government's role comes in."
He also reiterated that the government is open to private sector involvement in transport projects, which local and central government can't fund on their own, and said there's been a great deal of interest in those opportunities.
Jones will travel to Australia tomorrow to investigate what models are used across the Tasman and how potential investors interact with the government.
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