NSW joins state truck curfew lifting trend


Council sector defends performance, saying it is not to blame for shortages

NSW joins state truck curfew lifting trend
David O’Loughlin

 

The transport and logistics sector’s efforts to ease stressed supply chains and get goods into supermarkets is bearing more fruit with New South Wales joining other states the lifting of council’s truck curfews.

But the success is occurring in an atmosphere of conflicting claims.

While councils have borne the brunt of mainstream media and transport industry criticism, peak body the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) points to state legislation as the only solution to the curfew issue.

"This criticism of local governments is not justified," ALGA president Mayor David O’Loughlin says, while emphasising the loosening of controls would be temporary.  If for

"When approached by Coles and Woolworths for temporary exemptions to curfews, overwhelmingly most councils have readily agreed.

"Some, like the Knox City Council in Victoria, have even allocated a supermarket liaison officer to support food and product supply."

Council cooperation

ALGA says it and the state and territory local government associations have been working with Coles and Woolworths and individual councils to resolve any issues with the temporary lifting of the curfews.

"The supermarkets are experiencing unprecedented pressure on their supply chains and cannot get stock out of the warehouses and onto the shelves fast enough," O’Loughlin says.

"It’s like the Christmas shopping peak times four. But councils are not a roadblock to the supply chain and getting groceries onto the shelves.

"As hard as councils are working on this, the only lawful way a blanket exemption can be provided is through urgent state legislation.

"This has already been passed in South Australia and Queensland and has been welcomed by councils and the local government association in those states.

"Other states are expected to follow their lead.

"It is important to note that the lifting of the curfews is only a temporary measure and not intended to compromise the long term amenity of surrounding residents and address potential road congestions issues."

NSW planning and public spaces minister Rob Stokes says the State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (COVID-19 Response) 2020 makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times to support communities.

"Councils and retailers have been working well together to allow greater flexibility in delivery hours, and this change gives everyone the certainty we need to ensure these deliveries can continue," Stokes says.

"The SEPP makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times."

The new rules apply immediately and will be kept in place until the crisis is over, the state government says. 

But Local Government NSW (LGNSW) insists its members are ahead of the game.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) president Linda Scott said councils had already waived delivery times and taken a range of other proactive measures to ensure supermarket shelves could be restocked, despite misinformation that delivery curfews were causing a lack of supply.

T&L backs states

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has congratulates the NSW and Victorian governments on removing local government supermarket curfews, which will help the trucking industry and supermarkets restock.

"Our members told us that local government curfews were the single greatest regulatory impediment to restocking Australia’s supermarkets," ATA CEO Ben Maguire says.

"The new laws will enable supermarket loading docks to operate 24 hours a day where necessary.

"I want to congratulate the Victorian Transport Association and its CEO, Peter Anderson, on advocating for these reforms in Victoria.

"In NSW, the ATA worked closely with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Logistics Council and our state association, Road Freight NSW, to emphasise the importance of the reforms."


Read about how Queensland lifted council curfews, here


Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) commends the NSW government for listening to the concerns of the trucking industry and the community.

"Our members out on the road have been telling us that they’ve been delayed for days or even a week at a time," RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara.

"This is certainly going to help ease that pressure on already overstressed truckies.

ATA rejects council defence

Maguire says he dismisses ALGA’s and MAV’s claims that delivery curfews were not affecting supermarket stock levels.

"We listen to our members. They know the problems they face on the road. They told us that supermarket curfews are a problem, and we are taking action," he adds.

His comments follows MAV’s statements to the effect that Victorian councils are working closely with the state government, supermarkets, transport companies and the community to address increased consumer demand in our supermarkets.

"We are bemused with some of the commentary about delivery curfews causing the lack of supply in supermarkets MAV president Councillor Coral Ross says.

"Claims that curfews are contributing to the problem of empty supermarket shelves in Victoria are simply false.

"Councils are actively working with supermarkets and shopping centre management to support delivery access outside of normal hours.

"In fact, a number of councils have appointed dedicated liaison officers to work proactively with local supermarkets.

"Usual requirements are being waived so shelves can be restocked quickly and efficiently. 

"Councils are collaborating with key organisations in the best interests of the community.

"Panic buying has led to the shelves being empty, not curfews.

"We urge people to remain calm and only purchase what they need.

"There is enough food and other goods in our system for everyone. It is highly concerning that vulnerable community members are missing out because of hoarding behaviour."

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) joins the trucking lobbies in backing the NSW move to override curfews that prevent night-time deliveries and loading dock use for duration of the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis.

"ALC is pleased that the NSW government has recognised this and has moved to rectify the situation today," ALC CEO Kirk Coningham says.

"It follows a similar decision from the Queensland government this week, and we understand that state governments in Victoria and South Australia are now swiftly moving to remedy the curfew situation in those states.

"ALC again urges remaining state and territory jurisdictions to act promptly on this matter, in the interests of national certainty and consistency."

"While many councils around Australia have worked cooperatively with logistics companies and retailers in dealing with this extraordinary challenge, an agreed approach from all state and territory leaders through the National Cabinet process will assist enormously.

"Australia’s freight and logistics sector is working around-the-clock to deal with the enormous challenges presented by Covid-19 and it is important our governments provide practical support to help the industry’s efforts to support local communities."

 

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