The Australian Federal government announced on April 1 that a new $110 million initiative will help the export market.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the International Freight Assistance Mechanism would help secure freight flights into Australia’s key export markets.
The Coalition is investing in Australia’s agricultural and fisheries sector by helping them export their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to major air freight shortages and had disrupted supply chains around the world.
“This temporary action will help Australian producers to protect the jobs of those who rely upon Australia’s export of safe, quality food into the world,” Simon said.
“Getting our export sector back on its feet is crucial to reduce job losses through the crisis and a critical part of the ultimate economic recovery.”
The freight assistance and levy relief has been named as a lifeline for Australian fishers.
“The fishing industry was one of the first hit when access to China was cut off in January, bringing many in the industry to their knees,” Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonathon Duniam said.
The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will initially focus on the key markets of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UAE, with four key departure hubs: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
It will be overseen by Mr Michael Byrne, who has been appointed as the International Freight Coordinator General. Michael is the managing director of Australia’s two largest logistics companies Toll Holdings and Linfox plus as a non-executive director of Australia Post.
He will work with Austrade to help establish arrangements with exporters, airlines, freight forwarders and industry bodies plus oversee the mechanism’s operations including advising the Government of destinations, freight selection and prioritisation.
Kirk Coningham, Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO said this announcement will not only support Australia’s agricultural producers but will also be welcomed by the supply chain partners they use to transport products to market.
Keeping Australia’s export supply chains moving also supports road and rail freight services that feed into air freight exports.
“With more than 80 per cent of air freight ordinarily carried in the cargo hold of passenger planes, it is vital that we support those who need to use air freight services until normal commercial capacity can be restored,” Kirk said.
“Australia must make every effort to preserve our hard-won reputation as a cost effective and reliable supplier of high-quality food, goods and commodities globally. It is hard to overstate the importance of this in a post COVID-19 world.”