Roads | April 06, 2021

Labor must get serious about rail freight

More trucks could be forced onto already badly damaged regional roads, with the Andrews Labor Government’s rail freight plan again under a cloud.

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said funding for the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme (MSIS) would expire on June 30, and once again there had been no commitment from Labor to continue the scheme beyond that date.

“This program allows regional rail freight operators to offer competitive transport options for exporters, encouraging them to use rail instead of road transport to get their goods to the Port of Melbourne,” Ms Kealy said.

“But because the Andrews Labor Government won’t give them certainty, freight operators are unable to lock in long-term contracts with exporters.

“When the Liberal Nationals introduced the MSIS in 2014, it guaranteed $20 million over four years to continue the scheme to 2018.

“But since 2018, Labor has cut $3 million of funding to the MSIS and is relying on a year-to-year funding model.

“This is just another example of how wrong Labor’s priorities are when they are shifting more freight off rail and onto our already dangerous roads.

“I am aware of at least one large export company who has made the decision to move their freight by truck due to Labor’s funding cuts to the MSIS.

“This decision alone has put an additional 3000 trucks per year on our roads through Horsham and onto the Western Highway to Melbourne.

“If the Andrews Labor Government is serious about rail freight it will provide increased long-term funding for the MSIS to make sure rail can cost-effectively compete with road freight, shifting freight from our already badly damaged regional roads to rail and making our roads safer.”

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