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Weekly COVID-19 Update: Everything vessels, vehicles and gear

During these unprecedented times, we’re giving you weekly updates on how COVID-19 is impacting everything to do with vessels, vehicles and gear.

In this week’s edition we outline:

  • The United Nations plan to rescue seafarers trapped on vessels during the pandemic;
  • New financial relief for rail freight operators;
  • A survey by the National Skills Commission Taskforce highlighting the demand for truck drivers;
  • The freight gridlock at Shanghai Pudong International Airport; and
  • Proposal federal legislation requiring reporting by corporations on how they pay their small business suppliers – how will it affect transport operators?


  • Businesses with a total annual income of more than $100 million would be required to report on how and when they pay their small business suppliers, following legislation introduced to Federal Parliament last week.  Our partners at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) have welcomed the news but cautioned that the legislation does not go far enough as small/medium transport operators often have little capacity to negotiate with large customers.  The ATA is calling for a mandatory code for the trucking industry to address payment terms issues facing trucking businesses.
  • Work has recommenced at Volvo Group Australia’s factory in Wacol, Queensland, after a four-week shutdown due to supply chain disruption.  Key suppliers to Volvo, both local and overseas have resumed the production and shipping of components over the past few weeks, which has allowed staff to return with new safety measures in place. 
  • A survey conducted between April 24 and May 8 by the National Skills Commission Taskforce has found truck drivers as being the most in-demand profession by employers due to COVID-19.  The survey also found truck drivers were one of the most difficult occupations to recruit for, second only to nurses.

Marine and Cargo

  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport is experiencing a freight gridlock so bad that some cargo planes are being forced to leave nearly empty and logistics companies are recommending ocean transportation as a faster option.  Reports from the region describe an operational meltdown with trucks stuck in queues for two to three days to drop off shipments, and boxes piling up in warehouses because staff are overwhelmed.
  • A plan to save 150,000 trapped seafarers, put together by global maritime bodies, has been issues by the United Nationals agency, the International Maritime Organisations (IMO).  A population of 150,000 trapped people is equivalent in size to the population of Darwin or Cairns.  The 60-page set of details protocols urges governments around the world to permit seafarers to travel to also permit the operation of all necessary services – such as flights and airport services – to enable crew changes.  Many of the trapped seafarers have been at sea for months and they are now suffering from mental health issues and fatigue. 
  • A.P. Moeller-Maersk has announced they expect container volumes to fall by up to 25% this quarter, and they plan to cancel dozens of sailings as they cope with decreasing demand.  Maersk, which moves 17% of all containers world-wide, posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings last week as cost cuts, lower fuel outlays and higher freight rates helped offsite the decline in demand.  
  • Port Botany is getting a new 2.4 hectare empty container park (ECP), which will be leased by Tyne Container Services and will operate 24/7.  NSW Ports says it adjoins the existing Tyne (MT Movements) container park to effectively ‘super-size’ the site, delivering an additional 5,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) in empty container capacity.  Lack of space for empty containers has been an ongoing issue during COVID-19. 
  • The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is providing immediate financial relief to rail freight operators affected by COVID-19.  The measures include extending payment terms for existing access charges and deferring the CPI increased scheduled to take effect in July for three months.

Construction and Equipment

  • A comprehensive document has been put together by the Australian Tiny House Association (ATHA) to help councils plan and approve tiny house builds.  The association anticipates an increase in demand for tiny homes as businesses and families continue to feel the effects of COVID-19.  Tiny homes have increased in popularity of the past few years, however many councils across Australian are still confused and ill-informed on the planning and building of these dwellings. 
  • has released a list for tradies of five light trucks covered by the instant asset write off – as well as end of financial year deals. 

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