The Hon Jacinta Allan MP - China 24-30, July 2017
- Minister: The Hon. Jacinta Allan MP
- Portfolio Minister for Major Projects, Minister for Public Transport
- Countries visited: China
- Date of travel: 24-30 July 2017
- No. of official travel days (including day of departure and day of return): 7
- Number of accompanying ministerial staff: 1
- Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity: No
- Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency): Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
- Air fares (including taxes and fees): $14,063.00*
- Accommodation (including taxes and fees) $4,069.00*
- Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances): $2,147.00*
- Travel cost for minister and staff: $20,279.00*
Purpose of travel
During this visit to China I progressed the key themes of Partnerships for Prosperity, Victoria's new China strategy, by:
- building a deeper understanding of how China administers its transport systems, and the capabilities of its transport industry;
- establishing genuine connections with Chinese government officials and stakeholders in Victoria's transport sector; and
- promoting mutual prosperity by identifying transport infrastructure investment and cooperation opportunities between Victoria and China.
Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria
As a result of this visit, Victoria has strengthened its relationships with key Chinese government officials and industry representatives, including under its longstanding sister-state relationship with Jiangsu Province.
During this visit I held direct engagements with the following government and industry organisations that contribute to the themes described above:
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
In Hong Kong, I participated in site tours and detailed briefings from MTR's team on:
- the operational coordination and control techniques the company uses to manage its rail network and keep customers informed of service impacts;
- a range of mega-projects currently in delivery that will expand the reach and capacity of Hong Kong's rail network;
- the architectural and functional design features of a new high-speed rail station under construction that is set to become a key gateway to the Chinese mainland;
- the integrated property developments that have generated the revenue to support the rapid growth of Hong Kong's rail network; and
- contemporary issues in the management and maintenance of fully automatic operation of rail vehicles, including a ride on one of Hong Kong's automated metro lines.
- These briefings gave me valuable insight into the challenges that Victoria may face as it continues to grow in population and develop its public transport networks, and a range of options for meeting those challenges.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong & Macau (AustCham)
I attended a roundtable discussion convened by AustCham with a group of its members with a significant interest and background in the infrastructure market that helped to provide context for the remainder of the trip.
AustCham members with years of experience living and working in Hong Kong and mainland China provided a unique perspective for my visit.
The group identified topics likely to be of interest to the stakeholders on the remainder of the itinerary, and I was able to give the members an update on the Victorian Government's infrastructure program and policy priorities.
This discussion was particularly useful in understanding the challenges Hong Kong is facing in maintaining the capacity and capability of its construction labour force, which is also a major priority for both government and industry in Victoria.
On my outbound trip to Hong Kong International Airport, I had an opportunity to ride Hong Kong's Airport Express railway service from Hong Kong's CBD.
I was able to check my luggage for my flight directly at Hong Kong railway station in the CBD, and ride the train to the airport without carrying my luggage with me.
This was a fast and convenient option that could be worth considering in Victoria as we consider future improvements to our airport connections.
Nanjing, Jiangsu Province
Upon arriving in Nanjing, I took the opportunity to ride the Nanjing metro system from the airport to our hotel.
The trip was fast and convenient, and gave me a firsthand perspective on the scale of development underway in Nanjing, as well as Nanjing's use of both elevated and underground rail, depending on the urban surroundings.
Navigating this system, including its underground interchanges and walkways, also gave me a better appreciation for how Melbourne's rail system as the Metro Tunnel is completed, and it begins to operate more like other metro systems around the world.
Nanjing Metro Group
In Nanjing, I received an overview of the region's rapid growth, and the medium - and long-term plans for expanding the metro rail system from the Nanjing Metro Group.
We then held discussions about some of the similarities between the way Nanjing has expanded its rail network and the range of projects that Victoria is currently delivering. Nanjing has introduced different signalling systems onto its rail network, and this has important parallels with Victoria's plan to trial new signalling technology alongside its existing system.
This meeting provided many opportunities for technical experts on both sides to follow up with a more detailed program of knowledge exchange, some of which can inform the reciprocal visit from Jiangsu officials to Victoria planned for 2018.
Nanjing Foreign Affairs Office
After playing a pivotal role in the Victoria-Jiangsu Executive Leadership Exchange earlier in July 2017, the Nanjing Foreign Affairs Office provided me with valuable cultural context and an opportunity to continue developing Victoria's important connection with Jiangsu Province.
The Director General and I exchanged insights on our respective governments' economic and social priorities, and we each developed a sense of the key issues facing the other's citizens.
We may be able to continue this discussion in Melbourne during the reciprocal Jiangsu visit in 2018.
Maanshan, Anhui Province
Maanshan Iron and Steel Company
After I arrived in Maanshan by high-speed train, the Maanshan Iron and Steel Company provided an up-close tour of its manufacturing facility, which produces freight and passenger train wheels, as well as heavy vehicle tyre rims.
I observed the full production process from raw steel to finished wheels, and learned about the company's ongoing work to improve the quality and durability of their product.
Understanding better how this part of the rail supply chain works will help to inform the way we build local content into Victoria's growing rail industry.
Following the tour, I witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Maanshan Iron and Steel and the Monash Institute of Railway Technology.
This agreement laid the groundwork for the two institutions to collaborate on improving railway products, which will lead to benefits for both passenger rail and heavy haul operators in China and in Australia, and showcase the expertise of Victoria's transport and university sectors.
Changchun, Jilin Province
CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles
CRRC is part of the Evolution Rail consortium delivering Victoria's new High Capacity Metro Trains under a Public Private Partnership.
I had the opportunity to tour CRRC's manufacturing and research and development facilities in Changchun, where they build and test trains for rail systems all over the world. CRRC also briefed me on its plans to open an Australian headquarters in Melbourne, upgrade manufacturing facilities in Newport where the new trains will be built, and deliver a significant commitment to apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships in their Victorian workforce.
Changchun City Subway
CRRC also facilitated my visit to one of Changchun City's newest metro stations, which had opened just weeks beforehand.
This station provided me with a good example of how interpretive information and integrated artwork from local creative industries can be incorporated in a station's design.
I then had an opportunity to visit a metro station and tunnel under live construction, which had recently been built using a tunnel boring machine like the ones that will dig the Metro Tunnel beneath the Melbourne CBD.
Deputy Mayor, City of Changchun
To conclude my visit, I met with Changchun's Deputy Mayor for a discussion that focused on sharing information about the key strengths and characteristics of our respective regions.
This meeting was an opportunity to raise Victoria's profile with a significant Chinese government stakeholder, and contributed to our broader engagement strategy for the region.
Next steps / follow up
During my site visits and technical discussions, I identified many opportunities for deeper engagement and knowledge exchange, particularly where Victoria's major infrastructure projects can learn from construction and operational methods in use in Chinese cities.
The Major Transport Infrastructure Program has identified a range of areas where Victoria's project teams can follow up with counterparts in Hong Kong, Nanjing and Changchun to learn more about their approach to complex signalling and other technical challenges.
Likewise, Transport for Victoria will be able to draw on the briefings in which I participated to inform its network and service planning in response to Victoria's rapid population growth, and its unprecedented program of infrastructure investment.
A Victorian officials' delegation will also make a follow-up visit to Changchun to continue discussions on the rolling stock pipeline.
This trip has built on and reinforced the visits of other Victorian Government Ministers, including the Premier, as well as the Victoria-Jiangsu Leadership Exchange.
It lays the groundwork for future Ministerial visits to China and reciprocal visits from Chinese officials and business leaders.
The Premier has committed that every Minister will travel to China at least once during this term of Government - and in 2018 the Victorian Government will host public service executives from Jiangsu Province during a visit to Victoria.
The valuable site visits I experienced during this trip will also help to inform the range of briefings and experiences the Victorian Government offers to the Jiangsu delegation, and to other visiting Chinese officials and business leaders.