Freight congress success

DESPITE initial misgivings from some attendees, Perth’s Freight Planning Congress appears to have gone extremely well.

The congress attracted more than 100 delegates from industry, government, academia, environmental groups and the community.

The process was lauded by attendees for its wide ranging consultative approach, with consensus reached on keeping Fremantle Port in its current location and the need for changes to WA’s freight network.

A cross section of attendees will make policy recommendations based on the outcomes of the congress and work on ways of implementing them.

The congress is due to meet again in six months’ time to see how far the recommendations have progressed.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said she was pleased with how the congress went.

“People were by and large prepared to listen to the views of others. I think it was an important learning experience for all of those involved,” Ms MacTiernan said.

She said the Government would start seeking funding options once the congress process had created a tangible plan.

Seafreight Council executive director Michael O’Callaghan said the congress had been a worthwhile exercise.

“I was pretty impressed with the minister’s commitment to seeking a wide range of opinions – including those of industry. It sounds like a good old-fashioned way of doing things – ask people what they want and give it to them,” he said.

Mr O’Callaghan said the congress had put a huge emphasis on moving a significant amount of freight from road to rail.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry manager industry and resources Bill Sashegyi said the congress had been a very inclusive exercise and that community groups and industry would have felt their views were heard.

However, he remains concerned that industry will be forced to pay more for transport if it is forced to use one freight mode over another.

“With the problems facing industry we don’t need to make it any tougher,” Mr Sashegyi said.

“The reason transport operators are being hit on price is because industry is suffering.

“It’s not just a question of penalising road freight users by pushing them to use another mode of transport. Industry is under a lot of competitive pressure and it needs to use the most cost effective transport options available.”

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