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Amazon Australia will open its first dedicated Flex facility in Australia, as shores up its gig worker force locally

·2-min read

Amazon has made another big move into Australian retail, as it seeks to convert Australian gig workers into delivery drivers.

The eCommerce behemoth revealed on Friday it has taken a lease on a 330 square metre distribution hub at Melbourne's Airport Business Park, dedicated solely to its new Flex program.

“We are pleased to expand our delivery network in Melbourne with this additional hub that will support Amazon Flex, especially at a time when we know there is an increased need for flexible earning opportunities," Australian operation director Craig Fuller said in a statement provided to Business Insider Australia.

Flex was launched in Australia in January, marking its first big foray into the gig economy locally. In the same way Australians contract themselves out to be drivers with rideshare companies like Uber, they can deliver parcels as part of Amazon Flex.

"We’ve continued to grow our Amazon Flex delivery service in Melbourne and now have hundreds of delivery partners supplementing their income delivering packages to customers," Fuller said.

Since January, Flex workers had been using existing distribution centres, with Melbourne's drivers using the company's Dandenong facility. Now, the new dedicated Flex airport facility will be used alongside it.

"One of the reasons the airport is home to major freight operations is because we provide quick and easy access to major arterial roads out of our precinct," Melbourne Airport chief of property Linc Horton said.

"When [Amazon] called looking for a flexible warehousing option to support this program, we had the ability to cut through a whole lot of procedural red tape and just get a deal done for them."

Amazon has not indicated whether or not it will now look to open similar facilities in other capital cities, with Sydney Flex workers for example expected to continue using the distribution centre out at Moorebank.

As rideshare companies report a huge lull in business, ecommerce booms and unemployment surges during the pandemic, the number of Australians looking to sign up for Flex work will likely only increase.

Friday's expansion looks like a ready acknowledgement of that reality.

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