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Senator’s fight to reduce Covid-testing burden snubbed by Coalition

Former truckie-turned WA Senator Glenn Sterle is still waiting for a reponse from Canberra to his plea for the introduction of a rapid test kit option for truckies.

Although the rapid antigen tests are widely in use overseas, and are being rolled out in some aged care facilities in Sydney from today, so far the federal government has ignored Sterle, and many other trucking bodies, who believe they are the solution to the arduous testing regime drivers currently face.

Below is a copy of his second letter to Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce and Greg Hunt, demanding immediate action.

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers,

Just over two weeks ago, I wrote to you all regarding the plight of our essential truck drivers and requested urgent action from you to allow drivers access to rapid antigen self-testing kits which can provide results in 15-20 minutes, eliminating the need to line up at testing centres where parking is an issue while trying to manage fatigue.

I am yet to receive a response or update as to whether my request has been acted upon.

With growing case numbers and the extension of lockdowns in several States and Territories, our essential truck drivers need certainty and appropriate support systems in place that will allow them to carry on with their job while complying with the many different COVID restrictions in place. The rapid antigen self-testing kits must be made available to truck drivers now. I cannot stress the urgency of this enough. Especially with what we have seen happen in Mudgee in New South Wales over the weekend.

Yesterday afternoon, news broke that a staff member at the Busy Bee Caltex in Mudgee NSW tested positive for COVID-19. The service station is now closed for deep cleaning and people who checked into the site using their QR code will be contacted by NSW Health. However, as of yesterday afternoon, the site was still waiting for an official statement from NSW Health as COVID contact tracing and testing is already heavily delayed across the state and management aren’t able to say how long it will take to trace everybody who has visited the site over the time that the staff member was there and infectious.

Having a positive COVID case at a service station frequented by truck drivers is extremely worrying. Our essential truck drivers don’t need the added pressure of having to wait for test results to come back when the system is already facing heavy delays. Once again, I implore you to give serious consideration to my request and give truck drivers access to the rapid antigen self-testing kits now. The health and the livelihoods of our essential truck drivers relies on you taking urgent and required action.

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