CANBERRA BRIEFING: The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack listened to industry concerns.
CANBERRA BRIEFING: The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack listened to industry concerns.

Industry briefs Canberra on virus impact

THE Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has today briefed the Australian Government on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the transport industry.

Joined by the presidents and CEOs of other peak transport bodies, the ATA participated in a teleconference with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the office of the Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Border Force, to share feedback from industry and emerging issues.

“As a result of our member consultations, I was able to tell the Government that businesses are rolling out extensive hygiene measures and are asking staff to self-quarantine if they have returned from overseas,” ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said.

“There has also been extensive liaison across the supply chain about how to deal with the challenges posed by the virus and quarantine measures,” he said.

Mr Crouch said that as Australia’s national trucking association, the ATA is leading the industry and strongly advocating on behalf of its 50,000 businesses and 200,000 staff.

“We have been proactive in providing members with authoritative guidance and information, including our business continuity fact sheet, released last week,” he said.

“We are also working collaboratively with our members and member associations to collate information that we can provide to decision makers and advocate on their behalf, representing the collective view of our members and the industry.”

During the teleconference, the ATA was joined by members Road Freight NSW and ALRTA, who assisted in highlighting the issues that are emerging as a result of the pandemic.

“Container operators are reporting drops in volume of 70 to 80 per cent. Interstate freight, which is already low, has plummeted in the last few weeks,” Mr Crouch said.

“Meanwhile, grocery and fuel related supply chains have seen much greater activity than normal. Online grocery deliveries on weekdays have doubled.

“In terms of issues that need to be addressed, I told the Government that we were very concerned about the availability of hand sanitisers and masks, which is becoming a real issue for drivers and businesses,” he said.

“The ATA is also extremely concerned about the panicky calls by some for complete business shutdowns. We still need to keep Australia fed, and the trucking industry needs to keep moving.

“I recommended that officials establish a working group, including ATA representatives, to work through what might need to be done, particularly given the very large number of small and medium businesses that make up the supply chain,” he said.

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