NatRoad is calling on all levels of government to work in cooperation to deliver a “national” or standardised border permit for the road freight industry that will permit truck drivers to transport freight across all state borders. This permit should be separate to the border permit schemes introduced by individual states in response to COVID-19 outbreaks elsewhere. NatRoad throws out this challenge to all members of the National Cabinet as a call to demonstrate that they can support a key industry by coming to an agreement that is in the best interests of all Australians.
If the National Cabinet finds itself unable to reach a common sense agreement for a national border permit then the industry urges better coordination and consistency amongst the States and Territories regarding border closures, permit conditions, testing regimes and consistent timing for asymptomatic testing as they affect the road freight industry and its workers.
With a completed vaccine rollout not due until at least October 2021, the current chaos and uncertainty around state and territory border crossings cannot continue. Throughout 2020 essential workers in the road freight industry have frequently battled waits of several hours at border crossings, have been subject to constant Covid testing, and suffered confusion and stress, all while keeping our supermarket shelves stocked with supplies, our online shopping delivered and assisting the economy to run smoothly. Without freight deliveries Australia stops.
Ad hoc border closures, inconsistent State and Territory rules and complex regulatory rules add to the constant stress that members are experiencing getting freight through during the pandemic. States and Territories should prioritise resolving regulatory differences and provide timely and consistent advice to an industry that keeps Australia running. The needs of the road transport industry cannot continue to be considered as an afterthought as has repeatedly occurred in decision making by the states and territories since the arrival of the pandemic to the Australian shores in early 2020.
In addition to the introduction of a national standardised permit system and testing regime, all major border crossing roads need to have a dedicated freight lane to prevent truck drivers being caught in delays that can last hours, and impact on their ability to adhere to fatigue management requirements.
Uniformity and common sense must be applied to make the task of delivering freight as efficient as possible.