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Trucking industry critical, governments agree

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26 March 2020

The Australian, state and territory governments have confirmed the critical role of the freight sector, including trucking, in providing essential supplies of food, medicine and goods.

During a meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the country’s transport sector, Australia’s transport, infrastructure and planning ministers emphasised the critical role of the sector and its staff in keeping Australia moving.

The ministerial communiqué, released last night, said:

Ministers also affirmed the critical role the freight sector plays in providing essential supplies of food, medicine or other goods. Our freight and logistics sector starts at the border via our maritime and aviation routes. We then use rail and trucks to move substantial quantities of goods throughout the country, from ports and airports to the doors of individuals, businesses, and service providers. This includes recognition of the importance of all members of the freight distribution chain, from drivers, pilots, and engineers and others who support them, including those in the back-office working out rostering and logistics.

ATA Chair Geoff Crouch thanked ministers for their formal acknowledgement that trucking is an essential industry.

“Everything on the supermarket shelves, the fuel in our petrol stations and the medicine in our hospitals and pharmacies are delivered by trucks,” he said.

“For Australian governments to recognise our importance gives us confidence that we will have the support we need to keep Australia moving, and deliver essential goods to communities across the country.

“The ATA has called for freight and logistics and the services that support it to be regarded as essential, no matter what level of shutdown is imposed. This includes:

  • service stations and roadhouses, with driver access to toilets and showers
  • truck, trailer and logistics equipment production and sales
  • truck, trailer and logistics equipment repair and related operations, including emergency breakdown support
  • freight and logistics, including postal services and post office boxes
  • home delivery services.”

Mr Crouch said governments should not try to distinguish between essential and non-essential freight. This distinction is already causing problems in New Zealand.

“The Port of Auckland has told transport operators that they still need to pick up non-essential freight, because otherwise there is no room for essential freight to come in,” he said.

The Australian Trucking Association and its member associations collectively represent the businesses and people of the Australian trucking industry. Together, the ATA and its members are committed to safety, professionalism and viability.