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26 November 2018

The Green Triangle Freight Action Committee (GTFAC) has endorsed the State Government’s new Victorian Freight Plan as it continues its campaign to drive more local road and rail investment.

Glenelg Shire Council GTFAC committee members recently met with Freight Victoria CEO Garry Button who unveiled the strategy for future freight investment whilst touring key local infrastructure including the Port of Portland and the connecting Portland-Maroona line network.

Mr Button noted that demand for the local rail network had grown since the axle load capacity had been lifted on the broader Murray Basin Rail standardisation project, which has increased capacity by 500,000 tonnes.

GTFAC chair Karen Stephens, a Glenelg Shire councillor, said the freight strategy illustrated the clear “missing link” of the Portland line.

“Government needs to play a role in rail being more innovative to take the pressure off our local, and indeed state-wide road network. The Murray Basin project is taking 20,000 trucks off the road network and there is capacity to grow this number with future investment on the Portland line,” Cr Stephens said.

“Our committee is focused on updating the data in our freight plan over the coming months to further illustrate the critical need for this funding, particularly to support our South Australian neighbours who are pushing for the reopening of its border connecting lines in an effort to deliver more products to Victorian markets efficiently.

“We know there is more freight in south west Victoria than any other regional area of the state. Our port is almost at capacity because of the booming timber and agriculture trade and business is building – we need solutions to remain competitive for the future.”

Cr Stephens said it was pleasing the State Government was creating policy to “improve the complexity” of managing Heavy Vehicle National Law at a local government level, improving processing for over-dimensional vehicles for a harmonised national system.

“Growing freight volumes, particularly with the movement of larger windfarm components, means our region needs clear and defined policy to ensure the efficient and safe movement of these large vehicles, which must work in harmony with our local community,” she said.

“We know the timber industry is still in the midst of peak harvest, demand for agricultural commodities is booming whilst new operations are being forecast for the mineral sands sector.

“The Port of Portland is the channel for all of these commodities and we need smart road and rail infrastructure improvements so we can move more for less and remain globally competitive.

“Importantly, the State Government has a vision for the future, creating community led policy so we cope with the predicted tripling of freight movements over the next 30 years. We know our freight plan provides a strong evidence-based formula to attract continued investment so we can continue to be an economic powerhouse for not only Victoria, but the nation. This is a message we will be directing to the Federal Government in the lead up to next year’s election.”

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