VTA CEO Peter Anderson has emphasised the importance of supply chain sovereignty for Australia to maintain its high standards of living, as the nation emerges from the pandemic and vaccinations are rolled out across the country.
Addressing a gathering of over 180 delegates at VTA State Conference 2021, Anderson welcomed dignitaries from the Commonwealth and Victorian governments, and the broader freight and logistics industry, for two days of important talks about What’s in Front of the Transport Industry.
“As an island nation and democracy that relies on imports for sustaining our quality of life, Australia relies on the certainty from supply chains,” Anderson said.
“We enjoy the status of having the 5th highest ranking in living standards in the world. But what can we do better? How do we maintain and improve upon what has been created?”
Anderson observed supply chains, logistics and transport systems are vital for a country such as Australia because they link markets, community and people.
“Covid has challenged us to question whether current supply chains are flexible enough and whether they are able to carry an increase in capacity or are just too expensive to operate any other way. Some people may think we have been slow to develop these supply chains, that they are not productive enough or do not meet the needs of the market.
“There is no doubt that the Covid pandemic in Australia has highlighted the importance of these supply chains. The fact that freight transport did not stop, could not stop and was able to gain recognition, exemption and acknowledgment of making sure that we were all supplied with the goods that we need to maintain our current standards of living.”
Anderson questioned whether Australia is doing enough to secure its supply chains so as not to risk eroding standards of living, inhibiting growth or diminishing resilience, using fuel energy security and trade as examples.
“If we do not source and refine our own fuel and depend solely on international suppliers how vulnerable is our standard of living if this supply is interrupted?
“Or if China represents approximately 18-20 per cent of all imported goods that you will find in homes today, how would we resource these goods if there was an interruption with supply from China?
“Our domestic supply chain foresights and reactions must look to understand what needs to be done and take advantage of the resources at hand.”
Anderson told delegates that while uncertainty had been part and parcel of the Covid journey for everyone, it’s been amplified for transport operators and workers, who have worked through restrictions, lockdowns, and border closures magnificently to service their customers and the Australian community.
“The irony of Covid is that it’s probably done more to help consumers build awareness and appreciate supply chains than any other event in recent history,” he said.
“When you’re confronted with supermarket shelves that have been emptied of toilet paper, canned goods, pasta, fresh meat and poultry, and you’re forced to order online because you’ve been restricted from travelling more than five kilometres from home for months on end, you start to think and question how goods get to market.”
The conference finishes tomorrow.