Freight cost relief on the table for flood impacted Kimberley

A new freight subsidy scheme has been announced to help reduce freight costs for Kimberley businesses and transport operators travelling into the flood-impacted region.

It’s set to be in place until a reliable freight pathway is in operation at Fitzroy Crossing.

Jointly funded through the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), the scheme will be backdated to January 1, 2023. It will apply to the freight of essential supplies for businesses, not-for-profits and Aboriginal corporations in and out of the Kimberley, including transport of agricultural products out of the region.

According to the WA Government, reducing freight costs for Kimberley businesses will support the viability of local businesses and industries and bolster the region’s ability to recover.

“While the road network remains disrupted it’s important there is support for impacted businesses to ensure the viability of industries across the Kimberley, which is key to the region’s recovery,” said WA Premier Mark McGowan.

“Following consultation with various parts of industry and local governments and businesses we’ve developed this subsidies package that provides support and ensures that we can maintain logistics routes and help the region’s ability to recover from the event.”

The subsidy will be calculated as the difference between pre-flood and post-flood freight costs and paid directly to freight operators. There is also a subsidy available for businesses and infrequent freight receivers established on a per pallet rate.

Though the news was welcomed by Western Roads Federation (WRF), it said in a newsletter distributed yesterday, “We are seeking clarification as to what ‘essential freight’ means, as in Covid we learnt that all freight is essential.

“Our preference would have been that the customers in the Kimberley apply for and manage the freight subsidy, rather than the transport operators.”

Early assessments indicate demand for this program could potentially be close to $42 million.

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