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Saffioti gives Perth mayors reason to hope on port fleet

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WA transport minister prepared to listen on truck efficiency

Saffioti gives Perth mayors reason to hope on port fleet
Rita Saffioti

 

The three Perth mayors seeking newer cleaner trucks servicing the port of Fremantle appear to have gained an open ministerial ear for their proposal.

City of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt, Melville mayor George Gear and East Fremantle mayor Jim O’Neill already have Western Australian industry support for their call.

Specifically, they want:

  • a new Fremantle Port accreditation system that will bring in cleaner and quieter trucks and over time ban older, dirtier trucks
  • state government incentives for clean, quieter trucks and ultimately a zero emissions truck fleet based on hydrogen and electric vehicles
  • government to work with industry to incentivise these quieter trucks to run outside of business and especially peak hours.

Now, transport minister Rita Saffioti indicates that she is open to listening to the proposal that has Western Roads Federation (WRF) support.

"The state government will work with industry and local councils to consider their ideas for achieving cleaner freight outcomes," Saffioti tells ATN.

The state government has pushed in recent years to lift rail’s share of port container haulage.

Two years ago, it lifted the rail subsidy from $30 to $50 per container.

The government says this has resulted in an average rail mode share of 20 per cent compared to 15.5 per cent in the 12 months before the introduction of the subsidy, and 10.9 per cent when entering office.

But an open ear is just the start and, depending on other priorities, is no guarantee of success, as the recent Melbourne experience shows.

Despite a meeting of minds between the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and a local government-supported group that saw the Smart Freight Partnership – Inner West (SFPIW) initiative formed, which also sought cleaner port-haulage trucks, that effort foundered.

It is argued the change would be made redundant come completion in a few years of the West Gate Tunnel, now-delayed, and related restrictions and curfews.

WRF sees the Perth initiative in a different context, one with attractions it believes should find favour with WA government.

"We are proposing a simple proposition that is easy to administer," WRF CEO Cam Dumesny tells ATN.

"That in return for cleaner and low emission trucks that the local governments support transport companies being allowed to carry four TEU rather than the current three.

"The specifics details will be worked out in the discussions with the mayors, the critical determinant being what is an acceptable standard of clean and low emission.

"We have the opportunity to prove that an urban port can have both community support yet be increasingly productive."

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