Member for Ballina Don Page has questioned in the NSW Parliament why more freight isn’t sent along the East Coast by sea rather than road, a move which would get semi-trailers off the Pacific Highway.

Me Page said a container ship, while taking twice as long as a train, could carry 30 times the amount of freight. Conservative estimates indicated that one ship could take approximately 900 semi-trailers off the Pacific Highway. 

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would also be significant.

“An AusLink report released last year forecast a trebling of the freight load on the Sydney-Brisbane Corridor by 2029. This begs the question, how much of this forecast freight increase can be carried by rail or by sea?” Mr Page said.

“Whilst the Coalition Federal Government’s interstate rail freight initiatives will increase the amount of freight carried by rail from 17% of Australia’s total freight load to around 34%, it still leaves an awful lot of freight to be carried by road unless another alternative can be found.

“I believe that the sea freight option needs to be more fully explored. 

“A major freight corridor between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane is the Pacific Ocean, yet it is not really used for domestic freight movements within Australia. 

“I believe there is a good case for ‘non-time-sensitive’ freight to travel on ships. 

“The State and Federal governments should look at this option and remove any current impediments which prevent this from happening.

“Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane all have good deep-sea ports, so why isn’t shipping along the Australian coast used more, as a serious freight corridor for domestic freight movements that are not time sensitive? 

“After all, the major infrastructure, that is the ocean and the port facilities, are already in place!

Mr Page said he was not opposed to heavy vehicle freight but ‘I believe it needs to be much safer, which in my view requires dual carriageway at the very minimum’. 

“We need to complete the upgrade of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway as quickly as possible. However, I believe we must also explore the open corridor that already exists at our doorstep in the form of the Pacific Ocean,” he said.