THE VICTORIAN government last week established a container storage working group as a way for the government to work with the freight and logistics industry.

The new group includes representatives from across the shipping industry, stevedores, transport operators, peak bodies and government. Freight Victoria executive director Praveen Reddy is chair of the new group.

State minister for ports Melissa Horne said collaboration between government and critical industry leaders would help maintain and progress Victoria’s “freight advantage”.

“The challenge is confronting the supply chain head-on, and now is the time for government and industry to understand these issues and address them,” Ms Horne said.

“We are regularly engaging with key industry representatives about these supply chain issues, which is allowing us to share our combined pressures, clearly identify emerging themes, and propose options and solutions.”

A statement from the Victorian government said the new group would monitor ongoing challenges faced since the start of the pandemic, which have impacted supply chains on a national and international level.

COVID-related labour shortages have affected the movement of containers through the supply chain at the Port of Melbourne, as well as at warehouse and logistics precincts.

An increase in consumer demand and container shortages have also created disruption.

The state government said as supply chains return to normal, the capacity to store full and empty shipping containers has become more pressing. The working group meetings will analyse current pressures on the storage of shipping containers and provide possible solutions.

The working group commenced discussions in late February and will convene weekly until the end of April.

Container Transport Alliance Australia welcomed the establishment of the working group.

A statement from CTAA said it had highlighted the significant strains under which the container logistics sector is operating in Australia.

“CTAA alliance companies in Melbourne report transport yard capacities operating at well over 100%, with additional storage space for full (and empty) containers being sought at great cost,” CTAA said in its statement.

“Congested transport yards are not good for transport efficiency, timely client delivery and safety. Boxes need to be block-stacked leading to additional yard moves to dig out containers, either for customer delivery or empty container de-hire.”