Dozens of double-vaxxed truckies are being stopped at the WA border and forced to make detours of up to 1000km for PCR tests under strict new orders from WA Health.
Big Rigs was alerted to the growing logistics nightmare by both the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) and the Western Roads Federation (WRF) this evening.
Their members are facing costly delays as they scramble to comply with new laws that say even fully vaccinated drivers who have travelled through supposed ‘high-risk states’ must front at the border with a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours.
At the northern border that means drivers who arrive at Kununurra are being marched back 500km for a PCR test in Katharine, now a Covid hotspot.
“Who in their right mind would regard that as common sense?” said a frustrated WRF CEO Cam Dumesny.
“The police are not at fault; they’re just enforcing the rules they’ve been given.”
QTA CEO Gary Mahon is equally flummoxed by the WA Health policies further south at the Eucla crossing.
Although more than a dozen of his members drivers arrived there today double-vaxxed and with clear RA tests, they were told to head back 490km to Ceduna to get a PCR test.
“You have to ask the question, ‘To achieve what’?” said a puzzled Mahon.
“They’re double-vaxxed and have got clear PCR tests inside seven days: do they not want fresh produce in Perth?
“You could set your clock by the routine these guys have been going through for the last two years. They’re not an unknown quantity.
“When is it all going to stop?”
Dumesny described WA Health’s border policies as a national embarrassment.
“It is just chaos here at the borders – it’s a debacle.”
Dumesny reiterated his call for federal backing for 24/7 testing centres for truckies at Port Augusta and Katharine, which he said would capture half the continent at two major freight choke points.
Both Dumesny and Mahon said the current border issues have been exacerbated by testing centres being closed as truckies drive through on their way to WA.
But Dumesny said the real problems lie with WA Health.
“We’re very close to telling associations to prioritise other work, other than to come to Western Australia for the health and welfare of their drivers.
“We’re treating drivers appallingly. WA has got to pick up its game and start treating our truckies with some basic respect.”