The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has called upon state and territory governments to make temporary curfew suspensions permanent.
The curfews were lifted in the early days of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to enable logistics and transport operators to rapidly restock supermarket shelves that were emptied due to panic buying.
ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said that the past months had proven the benefits of relaxed curfews.
“As governments turn their minds to policy actions that will drive economic recovery, the removal of curfews is an obvious opportunity that will be of lasting benefit to the freight and logistics sector and to all Australian communities,” he said.
“The most visible manifestation of the COVID-19 crisis for many Australians was the sight of supermarket shelves that had been stripped bare due to panic buying. The single most effective government action taken to address this challenge did not involve massive expenditure, but the stroke of a ministerial pen.”
While the curfew suspensions primarily applied to trucks making deliveries to supermarkets outside of regular hours, freight rail also has limits on movements imposed by noise restrictions.
Coningham said that removing curfews had a role to play in ensuring freight networks operated efficiently outside of crisis periods.
“This includes removing curfews on overnight deliveries to supermarkets and other retail premises, removing bans on heavy vehicles using particular routes, removing curfews on port operations and the removal of airport noise curfews that inhibit the movement of air freight.”
The ALC also highlighted that a number of behavioural changes, such as changes to public transport usage and the increased adoption of home delivery services meant that curfews no longer made sense.
“As physical distancing requirements mean fewer Australians use public transport, road congestion in our major cities will be a major challenge. Removing curfews that prevent overnight deliveries will allow freight operators to schedule more tasks during off-peak periods,” said Coningham.
“Similarly, increasing demand for home delivery of essential items including groceries is likely to be an enduring feature of supply chains post-COVID. The removal of curfews will give logistics operators and their customers greater capacity and flexibility when using the road network to meet this growth in demand.”