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Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Page: 14428

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (12:57): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, I present the committee's report entitled Innovating transport across Australia, together with the minutes of proceedings.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

Mr ALEXANDER: by leave—The automation and electrification of mass transit is a potentially revolutionary development in transport. Done well, it could make our cities and regions more accessible, livable, productive and sustainable. Achieving this outcome will demand vision and leadership from government. The committee's previous report, Building up and moving out, set out a blueprint for the planning of our cities and regions. It identified opportunities for transforming connectivity through integrated multimodal transport networks. This current report is an extension of that work.

Mass transit is the key to creating better mobility. Automation and electrification will make mass transit safer, more efficient, cleaner and quieter. But they will also demand changes in the regulatory environment and transport infrastructure. This will require planning and investment, with policy responses framed around the different requirements of cities and regions—greenfield sites and brownfield sites. Ideally, our transport networks will consist of seamless systems operating across a variety of transport modes. These networks will serve cities and regions that are characterised by densification and decentralisation. Mass transit will provide high-volume trunk routes as the arteries of the transport network, with shared mobility and active transport providing the capillaries of the system. The goal should be the creation of a new transport ecosystem.

The electrification of transport has the potential to lower costs, reduce the environmental impacts of land transport and enhance fuel security. Hydrogen fuel cell technology in particular has the capacity to power mass transit options. It is well suited to buses, trucks, long-haul vehicles and even trains. The key to electrification is ensuring that the relevant infrastructure, especially refuelling stations, is put in place. The synergies between automation and electrification mean that convergent development should be encouraged and that electrification and automation should be implemented and managed together.

The most important thing the Australian government can provide to the future development of automated transport and new energy sources is vision. Within this vision, the Australian government should provide leadership and coordination of policy that focuses on consistency and interoperability between jurisdictions. It should also facilitate the development of national standards based on relevant international standards and coordinate the development of relevant energy and communications infrastructure. Governments need to commit to automation and alternative fuels by designing and building infrastructure around their requirements. It is also important that governments engage in the art of transition in managing the introduction of automated and electric vehicles. Not least of the government's responsibilities in this regard will be ensuring compatibility and interoperability of charging infrastructure, making sure that there is standard charging mechanisms for all vehicles.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this inquiry. This was a short inquiry. Nonetheless, the committee received high-quality evidence from a range of people and organisations dedicated to the improvement of our urban environment and transport networks. They provided clear evidence on the benefits of transport automation, mass transit and electrification and the need to clearly define a pathway to an automated and electrified future. I would also like to thank my committee colleagues for their considered and bipartisan work on this inquiry and throughout the 45th Parliament. It has been a pleasure to work with them, and I think we have shown what can be achieved when members of all parties work together in a constructive way. Last but not least, I would like to thank the secretariat for their dedicated and highly professional support of the committee throughout the parliament. On behalf of the committee, I commend this report to the House.