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Call for Covid vaccination passports to ease testing burden on truckies

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SA trucking boss Steve Shearer is calling for Covid vaccination passports for interstate truckies, which would mean they only need testing at most once a month.

The SA Road Transport Association executive officer met with police, health officials, unionists and other industry heads today to discuss the plan.

Shearer said Premier Steven Marshall had also taken the idea to national cabinet where it was under review.

“The extremely low risk profile puts us in a position where we think … any truck driver who chooses to be vaccinated is either exempt or gets a much lower level of testing,” Shearer told The Advertiser.

After the spread of the Delta variant by the NSW removalists, interstate truck drivers – who had been required to get tested once a week – now must do so within 24 hours of arriving in SA, unless they have proof of a test within the previous 48 hours.

Shearer said even once a week was too often given no community cases had been spread by truck drivers prior to the removalists.

He is also lobbying for more truckie-friendly testing points, using private lab Clinpath to help supplement the existing options with mobile testing in key border areas.

“It was a very positive discussion and none of the options are off the table. SARTA the TWU SAPol DIT and SAHealth were all on the same page,” Shearer said on the SARTA Facebook page.

“We will meet again on Wednesday morning with some of the specialist staff from SA Health joining us to nut out the final solutions.”

Transport Workers’ Union state secretary Ian Smith is urging the government to give priority testing to all interstate truck drivers.

“Too many drivers, working at night, were being delayed for up to five hours for tests which added to their long shifts, increasing the risk of accidents,” he told The Advertiser.

Smith said more 24-hour testing stations should be opened, and called for SA to speak with Victoria about 24-hour testing at Nhill, halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, where drivers from both cities exchange loads.

The NSW TWU joined the push to take the testing stress off truckies, calling on the NSW Premier to urgently set up testing hubs so transport workers can avoid waiting in long queues before their shifts.

The TWU wants to see testing hubs at airports, truck stops, bus depots, taxi and rideshare stops and where delivery riders congregate for work. The union also wants better consultation ahead of any public health orders affecting transport workers being released.

TWU NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen said there has been chaos for transport workers trying to comply with the new order in Sydney.

“This has been a shambles for transport workers battling to do their jobs and comply with the testing order,” Olsen said.

“It is not acceptable that we have truck drivers, bus drivers, aviation workers, rideshare drivers, delivery drivers and others sitting waiting in queues at centres overnight and then having to go to work today. Many truck drivers and bus drivers out in the regions and doing inter-state work don’t even know where they can get tested and if they can do so safely without breaching fatigue rules.”

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