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Calls to suspend freight and logistic curfews to keep shelves stocked

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) is calling on all state and territory governments to make the suspension of operational curfews on freight and logistics activities established in response to COVID-19 permanent.
Kirk Coningham ALC CEO said the removal of curfews is an obvious opportunity that will be of lasting benefit to the freight and logistics sector.

“The most visible manifestation of the COVID-19 crisis for many Australians was the sight of supermarket shelves that had been stripped bare due to panic buying. The single most effective government action taken to address this challenge did not involve massive expenditure, but the stroke of a ministerial pen,” he said.

Kirk said the existence of curfews that prohibit deliveries during certain hours were a significant barrier to keeping shelves stocked.

“Yet, in the space of just over a week, governments in state and territory jurisdictions took action to remove or suspend curfews and give logistics companies the flexibility needed to facilitate overnight deliveries into supermarkets and other retail outlets. This permitted stock levels to return to normal relatively quickly, despite extraordinarily heightened levels of demand,” he said.

According to the ALC, the benefits of removing these restrictions have been clearly demonstrated.

“Importantly, virtually no one in the community is calling for their return, and thus governments should feel empowered to act and make their removal a permanent part of the ‘new normal’,” Kirk said.

“This includes removing curfews on overnight deliveries to supermarkets and other retail premises, removing bans on heavy vehicles using particular routes, removing curfews on port operations and the removal of airport noise curfews that inhibit the movement of air freight.”

Given the significant economic challenges now faced by many logistics operators and their customers, Kirk said the last thing they need is a return to restrictive practices that limit operational flexibility and prevent Australians getting access to their day-to-day essentials.

“As physical distancing requirements mean fewer Australians use public transport, road congestion in our major cities will be a major challenge. Removing curfews that prevent overnight deliveries will allow freight operators to schedule more tasks during off-peak periods,” he said.

ALC believe that increasing demand for home delivery of essential items including groceries is likely to be an enduring feature of supply chains post-COVID.

“The removal of curfews will give logistics operators and their customers greater capacity and flexibility when using the road network to meet this growth in demand,” Kirk said.

“The experience of COVID-19 has given Australians a renewed understanding of how vital the efficient and safe operation of supply chains is for households and businesses. Governments have a responsibility to ensure that going forward, logistics operators have the operational flexibility they need to get the job done and keep supporting Australia’s economic recovery,

“Removing curfews is a low-cost, common sense measure that will help achieve that outcome.”

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