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Australia’s $46 billion rail spend needs coordination with related manufacturing if the benefits are to be felt nationally, according to a Senate committee.
The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee’s Australia’s Rail Industry report has been tabled with a National Rail Manufacturing Industry Plan the top recommendation.
The aim is to have the plan develop ‘a mechanism for the Commonwealth to smooth out the peaks and troughs in market demand and create more certainty and predictability for manufacturers servicing the rail industry".
The committee also wants a National Rail Procurement Strategy developed by the Commonwealth in coordination with all states and territories.
"As signatories to the strategy, states and territories should include procurement contract measures – consistent with international trade obligations – which allow for the development of industrial capabilities for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)," the report says.
Supporting the reform would be:
the re-establishment of a Rail Supplier Advocate to promote the rail industry in dealing with Commonwealth, state and territory governments and industry bodies
a Commonwealth coordinating body be given direct terms of reference to work directly with the rail manufacturing supply chain in developing and expanding industry capability networks
Federal involvement with state and territory governments, and the rail industry, to develop Rail Industry Skills Centres at local TAFEs and colleges.
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA), whose own plan is examined in the report, gave its blessing to the recommendations.
"The Australian Senate’s objective for the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee has been for the Committee to engage in an inquiry into the state of Australia’s rail industry and how government procurement, including through the Australian Rail Track Corporation, and other policy levers can improve the value for money, competitiveness, stability of work and capability of the rail manufacturing industry," ARA CEO Danny Broad says.
"The inquiry’s objective has been specific in focus on maximising the benefits for the Australian rail manufacturing industry, which the ARA believes is an important component in the broader context of a rail transport solution for Australia, as detailed in the ARA’s ‘National Rail Industry Plan for the Benefit of Australia’ document that was released in September 2017.
"The nine recommendations from the Senate committee further validate the importance of State, Territory and Commonwealth Government’s getting behind a National Rail Plan to ensure there is greater rail coordination nationally."
This article first appeared on www.fullyloaded.com.au
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