Federal Labor joins the chorus of state-based and national transport associations calling for the road freight transport industry to be nationally recognised as an essential service.
In a joint statement released today, Shadow Transport Minister Catherine King and Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety Glenn Sterle also called for the Morrison-Joyce Government to work closely with transport unions and businesses to incentivise as many workers to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Eighteen months into the pandemic, it is untenable that our freight workers can still not simply move across borders,” said the release.
“Eighteen months into the pandemic, it is extraordinary that the Morrison-Joyce Government’s failures mean that some of these essential workers have still not had access to vaccinations.”
This week, the National Road Transport Association, Victorian Transport Association, Western Roads Federation, the NT Road Transport Association, Queensland Trucking Association and the Tasmanian Transport Association joined together to call for the industry to be formally recognised as an essential service and for governments across Australia to treat it accordingly.
With ongoing lockdowns across Australia, the difficulties drivers are experiencing with determining what permits are required and navigating state borders are immense, said King and Sterle.
“These challenges have the potential to disrupt our supply chains.
“Throughout the pandemic, our truckies have done an excellent job in keeping this country moving.
“They have got on with the job while having to navigate their way through ever changing requirements as well as being locked out of roadhouses, forced to wait for hours in lines for tests and refused access to showers, toilets and food while on their mandated fatigue breaks.
“Despite this, truck drivers have pushed on. We are all beneficiaries of the sacrifices that they make daily.
“The road freight transport industry and the thousands of truck drivers who work in it should be extremely proud of their efforts.
“Now, it is up to governments across Australia to recognise truck drivers as essential workers and give them the treatment they deserve under the National Freight Code.”
Big Rigs approached the office of the Minister of Transport Barnaby Joyce and Scott Buchholz, Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, for comment.