Buy Australian to support national COVID recovery

As I write this column, Australia has just recorded its first technical recession – marked by two consecutive periods of negative growth – since the recession we had to have in the early 1990s.

Data released for the June quarter showed the nation experienced its most significant economic contraction since the 1930s, evidenced by a collapse in GDP of 7 per cent.

This is bested only by our worst annual economic contraction which occurred at the height of the Great Depression when the economy shrank by around 10 per cent.

The contraction appears to have been mostly driven by a collapse in household consumption of 13 per cent during the quarter, with discretionary spending down by a quarter and services on spending down by 18 per cent.

Of the reduction in services spending, transport was reportedly the hardest hit, down a massive 86 per cent. With this category including taxis, public transport and air travel, it’s understandable how it was impacted most during the national height of COVID restrictions.

I offer this glum summary of our economic situation to provide some context around where we all find ourselves, but more importantly the opportunity it presents if we adjust our behaviour as consumers, and how we spend our money as businesses and individuals.

And while the figures are stark, there is a silver lining in them, starting with the fact that they are in the past and reflect a time when – other than Victoria – COVID restrictions were at a peak.

Household income during the period in fact increased, fuelled by JobKeeper, JobSeeker and other subsidised income, noting that notwithstanding widespread business contractions, sectors like freight and logistics have been busier than ever.

This is income that will get injected back into the economy, and while much of it may be amassed in the biggest quarterly savings buffer Australians have accumulated since the ‘70s, savings do eventually get spent.

Therein lies the opportunity: whether you support government intervention and subsidies or not, the stimulus and savings created by the government provides a glimpse of the pathway out of the COVID economic crisis, once community health and safety measures are active and our economy starts to re-open, which Victoria is clearly a critical part of.

Those with discretionary post-COVID dollars to spend need to buy Australian wherever they can to support our economic recovery and help maintain and grow Australian jobs. And if you look at the supply chain for many consumables, there are enormous opportunities to, and reasons for, buying Australian.

The quality of Australian-made products is generally second-to-none, so that is no longer an excuse not to buy local.

And it goes without saying that when you buy local you are supporting dozens of parties in the supply chain from raw materials and ingredients, manufacturing and maintenance equipment, packaging and associated consumables, and of course local transport operators that are represented in every movement, from paddock to plate and from factory to franchise.

It’s equally incumbent on our local, state and federal governments to get behind Australian businesses and support investment in Australia.

To support the recovery, and with interest rates at record lows, it is more likely than not that every tier of government, across all jurisdictions, will initiate projects to stimulate jobs and growth. We are already hearing of infrastructure projects being brought forward, which will be a boon for our industry because of how vital transport is at every stage of infrastructure construction.

We also expect and will be encouraging state and Commonwealth governments to develop and release policies that provides incentives for individuals and businesses to spend money locally.

The extension of the instant asset write-off on capital equipment up to $150,000 until the end of the year is but one example of existing policy designed to stimulate growth, but it’s important that businesses taking up incentives like this to invest in Australian-made goods and services wherever possible.

As we map our way through, and eventually out of, COVID, let’s do it in a way that recognises the quality and value of products made in Australia by businesses that are Australian-owned.
Governments, businesses and individuals investing in Australia by purchasing goods that are made here instead of overseas, will go a long way towards inspiring confidence in our capacity as a nation to produce things of great quality, as well as help to accelerate our COVID recovery.

Peter Anderson
CEO, VTA

Celebrating transport more important than ever

September is typically one of the busiest months for the Victorian Transport Association as we gear up for one of the transport industry’s biggest events on the calendar.

It’s around this time that women and men from our sector are dusting off their dinner suits and shopping for new evening gowns in readiness for the Australian Freight Industry Awards and celebrating the achievements of our great industry over the past 12 months.

Coronavirus may have diminished our capacity to gather in large numbers to celebrate the awards, but it certainly hasn’t diminished our ability to acknowledge the incredible efforts of operators, transport workers and suppliers of our industry.

In fact, celebrating transport operators and their achievements is arguably more important than ever in view of the phenomenal efforts of our industry to operate safely, efficiently and productively during a global pandemic.

So just as coronavirus hasn’t prevented the freight industry from carrying out its essential work, it certainly won’t prevent us from showcasing the achievements of the past year.

As they say, the show must go on!

If you haven’t already done so I would encourage you to participate in this great celebration by nominating for the awards and joining our virtual presentation on Sunday 20 September.

We invite members and freight and logistics companies and suppliers to nominate for any of the seven categories being contested including Female Leadership Award (sponsored by Viva Energy Australia), Personality of the Year Award (sponsored by CMV Truck & Bus), Investment in People Award (sponsored by Logical Staffing Solutions), Application of Technology Award (sponsored by Transport Certification Australia), Young Achiever Award (sponsored by Daimler Truck & Bus), Best Practice Safety Award (sponsored by Gallagher), and Sustainable Environment Award (sponsored by NTI).

These awards are a terrific way of showcasing the outstanding contribution of freight and logistics operators, and most importantly their people, to our industry, our economy and our high standards of living.

Coronavirus has amplified this vital contribution by demonstrating the value of our industry and its workers to people all over Australia.

Confined to their homes during lockdown, Australians have relied on us to deliver their groceries and other essential goods, and they have seen first-hand supply chains in action as operators and their customers rallied to re-stock depleted shelves in the face of unprecedented consumer demand.

It’s critical that we continue to remind Australians of how essential we are as an industry, and the Australian Freight Industry Awards are an effective and influential way of showcasing our great achievements, so we urge you to get involved.
Equally important is celebrating these achievements, which the VTA’s gala AFIA dinner and presentation has so successfully done for over 30 years.

I invite you to register for our virtual AFIA presentation celebration from 7.30-8.45pm on Sunday 20 September, where we will livestream our announcement of the winners of each of our seven award categories and present them with their Australian Freight Industry Award.

This is a significant forum for recognising excellence and outstanding achievements and we’re hoping for as many people as possible to register for this free event and raise a glass in support of their fellow transport workers.

In keeping with previous presentations, the VTA is organising a number of high-profile musical performances to entertain viewers on the livestream — as previous attendees would attest to, the AFIAs wouldn’t be complete without a song or two!

You can nominate for an award and register for the free livestream presentation at www.afiawards.com.au

I would also like to acknowledge and thank TWUSUPER and Viva Energy Australia for their generous support of the AFIAs over many years as our major sponsors, as well as the individual award category sponsors mentioned before.

Like many recognition programs and events, these awards rely on sponsorship to be effectively run, and we really appreciate the value and contribution of all our sponsors to making these awards as successful as they are.

I look forward to sharing details of this year’s AFIA winners and hope you can join us in a few weeks for our livestream celebration of our industry, and the people who make it great.

Peter Anderson
CEO, VTA

Vehicle Loading Cranes

This article considers the design, installation and operating requirements that apply to Vehicle Loading Cranes (VLCs). Read more