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Another transport funding snub for Aussie farmers

By: Thanh Loan Nguyen
15 July, 2010

Feature of the week: Australia's primary industries have been snubbed again by the Federal Government's inability to fund any new transport projects in Sydney.

National Farmers Federation President David Crombie believes this latest setback could prove costly to Australian farmers, particularly if they need to transport their produce through Sydney's roads.

"Inherent transport inefficiency when moving produce from the farm to the consumer – both domestically and internationally – is a major impediment, which is set to get a whole lot worse.

"It adds multiple and unnecessary costs and delays, and has the spin-off impact of ham stringing our competitiveness, both here and overseas," said Crombie.

This recent announcement has seen many farmers feeling the pinch of yet another setback that is already proving too much to handle. Cowra farmer Colby Nichols is disappointed that farmers are left with only a few options for transportation.

"Of course I'm frustrated. It seems like you are doing everything right until you hear that there will be no new plans for infrastructure and transport. Our truck drivers use Sydney's roads to deliver our produce, but it is very difficult if there are major road delays that will impact getting our produce delivered on time and efficiently," Nichols said.

Institute of Sustainability & Technology Policy Associate, Brian Fleay, says the Government has failed to recognise the importance of infrastructure projects.

"The growing numbers of heavier and faster trucks are damaging roads in regional Australia faster than road building can be funded to keep up, given the long distances and low population density.

"Rapid growth of our major cities around the car as the prime transport mode – with its accompanying freeways and expressways –  is causing acute congestion and urban sprawl that is most pronounced in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth," said Fleay.

Crombie hopes the Government does a rethink on Sydney's transport networks to ensure a sustainable basis.

"So we welcome the funding on infrastructure, in particular rail, but what we still need is for this spending to be directed by a coordinated freight strategy, which identifies key bottlenecks facing our farmers, and the economy more broadly.

"We need a strategic and highly competitive transport system in Australia, aligning farm production with roads, rail, and ports. Despite infrastructure in Australia's inception over two years ago, the upshot is that we are still waiting for any plan."

Other major cities have received upgrades to improve the flow of traffic to run smoother with road projects such as the 'Go Between Bridge' in Brisbane that was opened to traffic this month.