19 May 2018

The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) has welcomed the Final Report into the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy (Freight Report) by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure the Hon Michael McCormack MP.

Independent Chair of RMAC, Mr Don Mackay, said the Freight Report reflected a positive move forward for freight and supply chain coordination in Australia but needs to be matched with investment.

“With the right policy reform and targeted investment in our supply chains, the Australian red meat and livestock industry has identified an opportunity of up to $750 million dollars growth and the potential to add 3000 – 4000 jobs to our businesses.”

“Freight costs for Australia’s 75,000 red meat and livestock businesses can be up to 30 per cent of total profit margins so the economics of freight reform for our industry are serious.”

“The Freight Report is extremely promising in the policy reform agenda it proposes – from increased access and priority freight route mapping – but does not identify how it will align with the Coalition Governments $78 billion-dollar infrastructure pipeline.”

“We were pleased to see $3.5 billion for Freight Roads of Strategic Importance in Budget 2018 but we need to understand how this funding will be realised as part of the Freight Strategy.”

RMAC provided a submission to the Freight Strategy – From Freight to Plate: Delivering the Goods highlighting the key opportunities and challenges for Australia’s $18-billion-dollar industry with freight network optimisation and a supply chain approach to policy and planning.

Key highlights for the Australian red meat and livestock industry in the Freight Report reflected in From Freight to Plate: Delivering the Goods include streamlining the approvals process to a 24-approval period, the use of technology as regulatory tools, standardisation of rail networks, mapping current and future freight routes for all freight modes, 24 hour freight routes around high volume freight routes, a focus on as-of-right freight routes and a review to identify opportunities for funding of key freight routes smaller, collective packages of investment in freight projects that could lift regional productivity.

Mr Mackay said there is positive the specific needs of agricultural freight were recognised in the Freight Strategy.

“It’s great to see food producers as large freight generators specifically acknowledged in a national strategy and that a potential process for targeted, modest investment to benefit Australia’s agribusiness network is in place.”

“However, it is also silent on the extremely unique freight challenges of Australian livestock producers. We take livestock within our care that we transport all over Australia extremely seriously.”

“This needs to be a national priority and it is disappointing that this key industry priority and consumer concern has not been addressed in the Freight Strategy.”

“Government policy, strategy and investment must reflect the specific needs of our animal industries, and the welfare priorities set by ourselves as an industry and the expectations Australian red meat consumers and voters rightly demand of us.”

From Freight to Plate: Delivering the Goods (2017) can be viewed here.