An express Easter delivery of essential goods and depleted grocery items will arrive in outlying areas of the state today, including Indigenous communities across Cape York and Torres Strait.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government was ensuring Queensland communities continued to have access to the vital supplies they needed as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve asked Cameron Dick to ensure our supply chains continue to operate and communities have the supplies they need,” the Premier said.
“We’re making sure that Queenslanders, no matter where they are, have access to groceries and other essential supplies.”
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the first of two transport drops of key commodities to remote regional centres departed on schedule from Brisbane on Wednesday, ensuring supply would reach communities by Easter.
“Three B-doubles left the Crestmead warehouses of wholesale grocery distributor Metcash carrying key commodities such as long-life milk, tinned seafood and vegetables, pasta, coffee, Weetbix along with important products like toilet paper,” Mr Dick said.
“The cargo onboard will head directly to far western and north west communities such as Quilpie, Julia Creek and Normanton as well as Cairns for onward distribution across the Cape York Peninsula.
“Queensland Government contractor Community Enterprise QLD (CEQ) will collect the delivery of goods from Cairns and take care of onward transportation via barge or truck to Cape York and Gulf communities including Palm Island, Horn Island and Erub (Darnley Island).
“Using its network of contacts, the Department of State Development Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) has been working around the clock with Metcash to source items via its network of national grocery suppliers make distributors including LINFOX, Coolfreight and Exodas to coordinate this urgent delivery.
“Given the challenges in meeting huge levels of demand for some items and the impacts this has on supply chain networks, the assistance provided by suppliers and offers of assistance from fellow grocery retailer Woolworths has been invaluable.
“I want to thank the hardworking team at Metcash for their dedication to Queensland. I commend the efforts of all those involved and the willingness, flexibility and speed of this highly competitive sector to come together to ensure the flow of essential supplies.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said she had been working hard to ensure supplies would get through.
“Metcash has moved mountains to source staple products from local and interstate suppliers to replenish depleted supplies in isolated regional areas.
“A second freight drop carrying more the same goods as well as rice, flour and sugar will leave Saturday with an ETA of Easter Monday.
Metcash Logistics Queensland Operations Manager Stephen Gray said the massive transport and logistics effort to deliver essential items into remote and regional communities before Easter had been nothing short of remarkable.
“Working with the Queensland Government, our suppliers and freight companies we’ll be able to deliver the Easter goods by road whereas they would usually travel by rail, and cut half a day off delivery times,” Mr Gray said.
“CEQ will pick up what we call the ‘last mile of logistics’ via barges and trucks for onward distribution across thousands of kilometres to outlying gulf communities.”
“We have employed 90 casuals for the current peak with some to transition to permanent in the near future, given current demand.”
Mr Dick said Queensland’s food retail industry provides jobs to around 54,500 supermarket and grocery store workers and many more in specialised food outlets and supply chain activity.
“That activity will be critical to supporting our longer-term economic recovery and social wellbeing.
“The Palaszczuk Government values the critical role the industry is playing to support communities across the state and will continue to have in driving longer-term economic recovery.
“DSDMIP will continue to monitor and provide ongoing support to Metcash, the CEQ and the network of stores and other independent retail distributors,” he said.
“We’ll work with them and the broader independent grocery distribution sector, including the SPAR, Drake and IGA network to identify supply shortages in regional areas and help ensure stores remain stocked.”