On 20 November, 2020 Infrastructure and Transport Ministers released the first annual progress report for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. The annual report highlights Australia’s freight network performance over the last 12 months including insights gained during the COVID-19 pandemic. While comprehensive and detailed, it lacks objective measurements of freight movements through supply chains across jurisdictional boundaries and transport modes. It does, however, contain useful information regarding the increase in home deliveries and parcel movements fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic:
Since March 2020, the data has showed signs of increasing freight activity, ensuring that supplies were reaching Australian communities and keeping export supply chains open. Aside from disruptions due to border closures and increased health compliance requirements, COVID-19 has impacted the nature of freight by greatly accelerating the trend towards online shopping and home deliveries. Shifts in consumer behaviour are clear – spending on food delivery has increased 192 per cent and with parcel volumes up 80 per cent compared to last year. To meet the unprecedented parcels demand, Australia Post has established 16 new or recommissioned parcel processing facilities, has chartered additional freighter flights, is operating some of its processing facilities 24/7 and has created more than 600 new casual roles. Woolworths doubled its home delivery capacity. Google searches for Australia Post and online shopping peaked in March/ April in-line with increased restrictions to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
This report is confirming what the trucking community already knew, the road transport industry is a resilient one and truck drivers have helped Australia through the pandemic by keeping up supply, rising up to the challenges posed by border controls and increased workloads.