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Freight and delivery: Australia’s vital essential service

The logistics, transport and supply chain are deemed as essential services that must resume operation despite national restrictions.

Ports and Airports will continue to operate and the associated logistics chain will be required to support the clearance and movement of freight so supplies are maintained.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a shutdown of all non-essential services on Sunday 22nd March, also unveiling a second stimulus package worth $66 billion to support businesses and workers.

Under the new package, businesses will be able to access grants of up to $100,000 to support its staff. 

Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) have sought assurance from the respective states, territories and national government that forwarders, customs brokers, depots are service providers that form part of the logistics chain and will be seen as essential services. 

John Park, Head of Business Operations FTA said the world cannot stop and essential services will be required to operate so that the community can access food, petrol, pharmacies and medical facilities.

“In the event of an eventual lock down, we need critical sectors of the international supply chain operating such as freight forwarders, customs brokers, empty container parks, licensed depots, ports, airports and transport operators included in the definition of essential services,” John said in an update on Monday.

“It is essential that we have trade professionals operating to ensure biosecurity and customs requirements are met and the logistics from the importer / exporter to the border have business continuity.”

John said the supply chain is “so fragile” at the best of times and removing a critical link could “completely bring remaining international air sea freight to a grinding halt”.

Brendan Bourke, Port of Melbourne CEO said the organisation understands that freight and delivery are exempt from the new measures and that this definition should include the complete port supply chain, including maritime and stevedoring activities.

“We are liaising with the government to seek formal confirmation that all port related activities can continue without the effects of the new measures. We will also continue to advocate for the port supply chain to be viewed as an essential service as governments assess further stages beyond the current shutdown measures,” Brendan said in an update on Monday.

Port of Melbourne said it’s still seeking sufficient clarity on the definition of ‘Freight and Delivery Services’.

“FTA will continue to push for clarity on the term “essential services” to ensure our industry provides that critical link to maintain a safe and secure supply chain,” John said.

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