THE Australian Logistics Council says there is strong community support for permanently locking in changes made to curfews and other restrictions around freight movement in the wake of COVID-19, according to a recent survey of community attitudes.

The survey of 1205 Australians – commissioned by ALC and undertaken by Newgate Research in mid-June – shows strong majority support for the permanent removal of curfews that prevent overnight deliveries into supermarkets and other retail premises (71% support and only 7% opposed), as well as permitting essential logistics infrastructure including ports and warehouses to operate at night to facilitate more efficient freight movement (67% support and just 7% opposed).

“COVID-19 has given Australian communities a newfound appreciation for just how important the efficient operation of supply chains is, with 78% of respondents agreeing the pandemic has made efficient deliveries to homes and businesses more important,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.

“This understanding translates into strong support for providing freight operators and retailers with the flexibility they need to keep our supply chains flowing. Such flexibility will permit our industry to meet consumer preferences that have changed over recent months – including significant increases in demand for home delivery of household essentials.”

Mr Coningham said these changes in consumer preferences make it more crucial than ever for logistics operators and their customers to efficiently schedule deliveries and use freight infrastructure outside standard hours to meet community expectations.

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“With more Australians returning to their workplaces and educational institutions, road congestion will be an increasing challenge as physical distancing requirements and continued concerns over transmission of COVID-19 make public transport a less attractive prospect,” he said.

“Providing ongoing flexibility that allows freight operations to occur across the road network outside of peak times will help to alleviate some of these congestive pressures.

 “In many instances, curfews and operational restrictions date back to the 1980s, when the need to remain competitive in a 24/7 economy was not a major consideration. Rigidly adhering to outdated regulations fails to recognise or incentivise take-up of new, quieter vehicle technologies – including electric vehicles – that allow freight tasks to be undertaken less intrusively.”

Mr Coningham said these findings should give governments around Australia confidence that the community is prepared to support changes to regulations.

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