Industry search for Covid clarity seems endless


RFNSW backs PM’s compliance-realism call as QTA looks for border confirmation

Industry search for Covid clarity seems endless
Simon O’Hara

 

In a loop that keeps repeating, trucking industry organisations continue to plead for clarity and rational responses from state authorities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In recent days, Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) urged state transport ministers, police and regulators to act on the prime minister Scott Morrison’s call for greater support and flexibility on rules for truck drivers, while the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) questioned border zone-only rules

Commending the country’s truckies for "doing a great job keeping Australia moving", Morrison asked for greater consistency in Covid -testing regimes and for "rules to be just a bit easier to comply with", in order to minimise disruptions for frontline truckies working across state borders.

RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara welcomed the prime minister’s acknowledgment of the critical work that truck drivers were carrying out 24/7 throughout the pandemic.

"Truckies are finding it harder and harder to do their job," O’Hara said.

"They’re doing the right thing, complying with mandatory surveillance testing, whilst still performing their work, but are being forced to wait around for hours to get tested while under log book hours.

"As we saw this week, they’re waiting in the rain outside Covid-testing stations, being directed to self-administer the tests and then waiting too long for the results. As essential workers, it’s unfair on them and making their job a lot tougher.

"Once they’ve been tested and are back on the road, they face the prospect of horrendous wait times at border crossings.

"Given the rapidly-changing effects Covid is having on the transport workforce and the wider community, RFNSW is now really concerned about fatigue management plans for our frontline truckies.

"RFNSW is calling on the various jurisdictions to work together to better support truckies, with greater consistency in Covid-testing rules and flexibility around fatigue management regulations. As the prime minister said, it’s crucial that we minimise inconvenience on transport operators in these difficult times.

"The message from RFNSW is - it’s time to give truckies a break."

RFNSW revealed federal shadow assistant minister for road safety, Labor senator for Western Australia and former long haul truck driver Glenn Sterle had been working with it since the lockdown came into place two weeks ago to address the concerns and conditions drivers have been faced with.

"What we have been hearing and seeing out there from drivers has been extremely disappointing. Our essential transport workers deserve better," Sterle said.

"It is pleasing however to see that we are finally getting somewhere and I welcome the overdue announcement by the prime minister that the National Freight Code will be looked at again.

"However, it is crucial that any decisions made by transport ministers on what happens next, must be based on consultation with the transport industry. I look forward to seeing the outcome.

"Finally, I want to commend Simon O’Hara and Road Freight NSW for their advocacy on behalf of truck drivers and transport workers at this difficult time."


Read RFNSW raising the alarm on truck driver mistreatment, here


Meanwhile, with the NSW border zones subject to increasing focus from states on the other side, the QTA sought clarification from Queensland authorities on the requirements for drivers coming from Queensland who have not been in a hotspot in the past 14 days and only delivering in the NSW border zone. 

"Although all of NSW is considered a hotspot, the border zone is not," it notes.

It advises that drivers in this position will need the Queensland Entry Pass but not the Freight and Logistics Pass (F Pass).

They are also not required to comply with mandatory testing requirements as they are not travelling into a hotspot. 

"You will need to be extremely mindful of where your drivers have been in the past 14 days," the state body underlines to trucking company owners and managers. 

"If they do perform work outside that NSW Border zone in a declared hotspot, they will need the F Pass and comply with the mandatory testing requirements for the area they are travelling to. 

"This means that they may need to apply for different passes within a 14-day period depending on where they are travelling.  

"If you have drivers that may travel within the border zone but potentially travel into a hotspot, it is strongly advised they follow a seven-day testing regime."

The Queensland Entry Pass can be found here.

The F Pass can be found here.

Declared hotspots can be found here.

 

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