A REPORT released this week by Infrastructure Australia has confirmed that in order for Australian farmers to remain competitive, rural transport infrastructure, including roads, must be up to scratch, according to the National Farmers Federation.
The report, National Road Asset Reporting Pilot, reaffirms the need to develop mechanisms to attract private investment in rural roads, providing a boost for limited public funds.
NFF president Brent Finlay welcomed the landmark report on infrastructure, highlighting the importance of rural roads to the sector, and supported calls for greater action from the Federal Government aimed at attracting private funding sources.
"The report reiterates a lack of public investment in rural roads, limiting the efficiency of agricultural freight flows," Mr Finlay said.
"Farmers do their best to maximise efficiency on farm, and after the food and fibre leaves the farm gate, much of this value can be lost to inefficiencies in the transport system.
"We need to harness the opportunity for private sector investment, and invest in building better quality roads in rural Australia.
"Less money lost by inefficient and run down rural infrastructure means more money in the pockets of Australian farmers, but also more money for Australia through competitive exports."
As a first step, the NFF has welcomed the Federal Government's commitments to undertake an infrastructure audit, and develop a priority investment pipeline.
"As a key pillar of Australia's economy - we will be expecting agriculture to be prioritised on the Federal Government's national infrastructure audit, and key food and fibre projects identified in the investment pipeline," Mr Finlay said.
"To continue exporting $38 billion of high quality food and fibre to the world, it's critical that we have adequate local and regional infrastructure and the measures in place that promote private investment to complement the government commitments.
"While today's report focusses on rural roads, the NFF will continue to seek greater government commitment towards railways and ports, carrying agricultural goods, as well as the service infrastructure of water, energy and telecommunications."