If you’re a truckie from Sydney, David Foster strongly advises that you steer clear of any Centrelink offices while in Queensland.
The long-time truckie-turned motorcycle transporter went into a Brisbane branch to enquire about short-term financial assistance for sole traders impacted by Covid.
An hour later the police called to say they’re coming for a chat and just 15 minutes later they were at the door of the friend’s house that Sydney-based Foster was staying at while waiting for gearbox repairs to his Ford Ranger.
After many questions and checking of paperwork, they told a flabbergasted Foster that Queensland Health had decided he needed to go into quarantine for two weeks.
“I couldn’t believe it,” the former interstate truckie told Big Rigs. “I said ‘Are you serious…why? I’ve got a permit. I’m doing everything I need to be doing’.
“When Queensland Health finally gave me a call a few hours later to say because my vehicle had broken down that means my permit was no longer valid because I’m no longer able to carry out the work I was meant to be doing.
“The coppers said the same thing to me, but I pointed to my friend’s tilt tray truck that I’d borrowed and said ‘I’m doing the work, the truck’s here’, but they didn’t care – it didn’t make a difference.”
To rub salt into the wound, Foster said Queensland Health also wanted him to pay for the $130 cab fare from Eagleby to the quarantine hotel in Surfers Paradise but the taxi company pushed back and got the government to stump up.
Foster said he also now faces the possibility of a $2800 bill for the two weeks in quarantine, although he was given a waiver form to fight the charge.
“They haven’t explained anything. They just said I have a form for a waiver and I can submit that. But to me that means I might get it, or I might not.”
Meanwhile, Foster is left counting down the hours until his release on Friday and trying to not stew over the work that is going begging for his business Bitumen Pirates Motorcycle Transport since he arrived in Queensland on July 9.
“At the moment I’m thinking I’ll just cut my losses, get the ute fixed and head home, but if they turn around and start sending me bills and tell me I have to pay for all this, I will be seeing a lawyer.
“I will be pushing back very hard. They’re not getting any money off me.”