Dedicated freight lanes at borders wherever possible and a new rolling seven-day negative test requirement are the two major changes for the trucking industry from today’s National Cabinet meeting.
The Morrison government, together with the states and territories, announced streamlined Covid-19 measures for freight operators to ensure the efficient movement of goods continues in a Covid-safe manner, a media statement said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the changes would help keep the country functioning as it should.
“Freight workers are well and truly amongst Australia’s most vital workers, helping to feed families and communities, keeping businesses functioning, and underpinning a strong economy,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“We need to keep our truckies, train drivers and other freight industry workers, their families and our communities safe and well while they continue their vital work.
“A week ago we had eight different sets of rules on testing for freight workers.”
Under the revised National Freight Movement Code and Protocol, discussed at today’s National Cabinet meeting, truckies crossing state and territory borders are now required to have a negative Covid test result in a rolling seven-day period.
In some cases, workers may also need to be tested more frequently depending on particular requirements in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, but today’s agreement means more than half the jurisdictions will be following a single, simple approach to testing, added Joyce.
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the updated code’s streamlined set of rules across jurisdictions will ensure freight can move efficiently and testing is as consistent as possible the transport sector has been urgently calling for.
“We want to ensure the transport industry continues the great work they have done throughout the pandemic, while carrying out vital freight activities to keep supermarkets stocked and other goods moving in the safest way possible,” Buchholz said.
“This is also why I am encouraging all freight workers to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible, to help protect your community, and I commend those transport operators who are assisting with the vaccination effort within the sector.
“States and territories are also standing up additional testing facilities along key freight routes, intermodals and hubs to assist freight workers to more readily access testing facilities, in line with AHPPC advice.”
The updated code also recommends that road freight industry develops a work-based program to deliver vaccines as a “priority”.
“An industry-based method to deliver communication of advice for workers may be considered, together with support measures for workers who may need to isolate or quarantine in the case of positive tests or relevant symptoms.
“This program should continue until the 80 per cent vaccination target is reached for the eligible Australian population or in line with another trigger as agreed by the AHPPC; it may be reviewed at that point.”
Today’s announcement also states that the implementation of enforceable measures will commence no earlier than five days after the National Cabinet advises industry of the changes.
For more information on the revised code visit https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/covid-19/index.aspx.
For more information on the National Cabinet meeting visit pm.gov.au/media.