Coronavirus and trucking in Australia: what’s happening there?

As South Africans, we are keen to follow news from Australia (maybe because so many South Africans have family members in that country). Accordingly, we’re sharing this report by
Rob Di Cristoforo with our readers today.

By all accounts, trucking companies are doing a sensational job over there!

Effect of panic buying on the Australian supply chain

The Australian road freight industry and regulating bodies have risen to the challenge of Covid-19. The industry has been a star performer amid the unprecedented panic buying that cleared supermarket shelves to an extent many of us have never seen in our lifetimes.

Citizens were assured that the lack of goods on the shelves was not so much a matter of “running out” as it was a signal that our supply chain was stretched to its limit due to the spike in demand. The industry worked hard in a difficult time to get the shelves restocked before too long.

Freight transport considered “essential services”

Government has given “essential services” classification to freight transport and its supporting businesses, such as vehicle/equipment sales, maintenance and engineering. This gave the industry confidence that it would be allowed to operate through the crisis.

Rules eased for freight transport

Various state borders have been closed, but cross-border freight transport was allowed to continue. Some local government curfews on freight transport in cities were temporarily eased to allow the supermarkets to be more quickly restocked. The industry’s representative bodies were instrumental in ensuring the right outcomes for all stakeholders.

What does the future hold?

While the health impacts have well and truly peaked in Australia, and the discussion is now moving towards possible eradication in this country, the economic impacts will need a bit more time to resolve. Global dependencies will have a huge influence.

How much longer will government-imposed restrictions on business activity be in place? What will the economic impacts be? How will this affect road freight transport?

Low oil prices are a welcome change, given the extent to which fuel contributes to the overall cost of road freight, but what will happen to freight demand? Will it decline over the next few months? What will the recovery look like?

These are all questions that nobody knows how to answer. Nobody has seen anything like this before, at least not in the modern global economy, and nobody can predict what will happen next.

  • Rob Di Cristoforo is HVTT Forum vice president Australasia and Pacific

Published by

Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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