Mon. May 20th, 2024

NSW Farmers, Coles, and Roads Freight NSW are among a chorus of organisations welcoming a Coalition announcement that if re-elected they will appoint a ‘Supply Chain Commissioner’ to unblock supply chains and drive down costs of goods.

Soaring fuel prices combined with blockages in the supply chain are blamed for the significant jump ion the cost of goods, which is fuelling inflation. The Liberal and Nationals commitment today is to appoint a new Supply Chain Commissioner to work closely with industry to unblock supply chains across the state, and immediately move to establish a freight and logistics taskforce to look at innovative ways to drive down transport costs for goods to get the best deal for families across NSW.

Under the plan, they say the Commissioner will work closely with the NSW Productivity Commissioner, NSW Agriculture Commissioner and industry to:

  • Tackle truck driver shortages by subsidising heavy vehicle course fees by up to $1,000 for 7,000 people aged under 30, including for new truckies and upgrading existing heavy vehicle licence class holders.
  • Ensure the delivery of the Liberal and Nationals’ $300 million Fast Tracking Freight program which will tackle freight pinch points on the road and rail network; 
  • Drive national reform around packaging to cut red tape and create consistency to reduce packaging costs; and
  • Address pinch points at our ports by ensuring goods are checked and cleared faster, reducing storage costs for businesses.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said boosting the number of truckies will help get produce from farms and factories to our ports and supermarket shelves quicker, meaning lower costs for producers and lower prices for families.

“We know the industry is feeling the pressure from worker and skills shortages especially in our regions, which is in turn putting pressure on our freight and logistics lines and driving up prices,” Mr Farraway said.

“Slashing the cost of heavy vehicle licences courses by up to 50 per cent for people under the age of 30 will allow these young drivers to more easily upskill and upgrade to a Multi Combination licence, which will allow them to drive bigger trucks like road trains and b- doubles, and will help tackle driver shortages.”

If re-elected, the Liberal and Nationals Government has also committed $300 million to Fast Track Freight by tackling freight pinch points and improving the capacity and resilience of the road and rail network.

NSW Farmers welcomed the announcement, saying improving and better connecting road and rail infrastructure was one of the peak agricultural body’s key election priorities. NSW Farmers Grains Committee chair Justin Everitt said getting efficient connections from farms to processors, distributors and retailers would help bring food costs down, but the work of the Supply Chain Commissioner needed whole-of-government support.

“It is critical we have fit-for-purpose road, rail and port infrastructure to get food and fibre from farm gate to dinner plate,” Mr Everitt said.

“At the moment we have a lot of inefficiencies in the supply chain that are resulting in higher prices for consumers.

“Farmers are often left scratching their heads when they see the produce they sold for cents a kilo retailing for dollars a kilo.”

Road Freight NSW CEO Simon O’Hara also welcomed the announcement and said better planning and more collaboration across the sector was key to having a superior supply chain network.

“Freight is a $66 billion industry and COVID, bushfires and the recent floods have made it very clear we must invest in upgrading our freight corridors to be more resilient so we can keep goods moving and our economy ticking,” Mr O’Hara said.

Coles Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer Matt Swindells said resilient supply chains are essential for ensuring all Australian’s receive access to food and other basic necessities.

“We welcome the appointment of a Supply Chain Commissioner and remain committed to working with the government and Productivity Commission on strengthening our local supply chains and building greater long term resilience.” 

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