The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) welcomes National Cabinet’s acceptance of streamlined COVID-19 measures to keep road freight moving but says there’s more to do.
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says it is encouraging to see that National Cabinet is listening to industry after determined lobbying.
“But throughout the pandemic, states and territories have said one thing and consistently done another,” Mr Clark said.
“NatRoad wrote to State Ministers last week in the lead up to the National Cabinet meeting and put forward a Five Point Plan to make the movement of road freight safer and more efficient,” Mr Clark said.
“Those practical ideas came from NatRoad members. Some of them appear to have been taken on but the fundamental problem of inconsistency remains.
“For example, freight drivers crossing to and from Queensland and New South Wales need proof of a negative COVID-19 test in a rolling seven-day period, but South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia still have different rules.”
Mr Clark said NatRoad strongly supports policies that suppress COVID-19, make the community safer and drive up vaccination rates, but we also want measures that allow essential industries to continue operating.
“I acknowledge that New South Wales and Queensland have provided leadership in areas such as opening dedicated testing facilities for heavy vehicles.
“But let’s ensure all centres can open 24-hours wherever demands requires it and let’s prioritise results for heavy vehicle operators.
“It’s in the national interest to keep road freight moving so Australians can continue to see essential goods on their supermarket and pharmacy shelves.”
NatRoad’s Five Point Plan seeks national adoption of these principles:
- States and Territories agree on a consistent system of passes and adoption of QR code-based contact tracking systems that are the same for each State and Territory.
- All States and Territories follow the National Freight Protocol of evidence that a COVID-19 test has been carried out within a period no less than 7 days since the time of arrival into a state or territory and not exceeding a rolling 14 days for heavy vehicle operators.
- 24-hour testing facilities be established at or near each border crossing point, at driver changeover points on interstate highways and in major metropolitan centres that give access to road freight operators and their vehicles.
- Diagnostic testing of samples for heavy vehicle operators be given priority where possible, reflecting the industry’s status as an essential service.
- Major highways at border points include a dedicated truck lane wherever practical, separated from motor vehicles and allowing movement of heavy vehicles whose drivers have appropriate passes.