20 August 2021
Australia’s truck drivers will have more consistent rules for crossing state borders thanks to changes announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz.
Acting Australian Trucking Association CEO Bill McKinley welcomed the changes to the National Freight Movement Code and Protocol, which were discussed at National Cabinet today.
“The ATA and our members argued strongly for changes to the previous code and protocol. In particular, we welcome the recognition of rapid antigen testing in the new code, subject to approval from the relevant health authorities,” Mr McKinley said.
“It can take days to get the results back from conventional COVID tests. This is too slow for truck drivers, who have meet stringent testing regimes to keep working. Rapid antigen tests deliver results in 15-20 minutes.
“The new code also states that freight workers crossing state/territory borders should only be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result in a rolling 7-day period.
“This will reduce the testing burden on drivers and trucking businesses, although it should be noted that the rules for Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia will be different.”
Mr McKinley said that in these times of stress and uncertainty, ATA members have been working around the clock to ensure operators can keep moving.
“It is now time for states and territory governments to show their support by implementing these agreed changes through their health orders. Under the code, changes do not start until five days after they are announced by National Cabinet,” he said.
The code document urges the sector to develop a work-based program to deliver vaccines as a priority.
“As part of our response, trucking businesses can now get a free COVID workplace guide from their ATA member association,” Mr McKinley said.
“The guide shares important information on how to communicate about vaccines, employer obligations, and extensive information about when an employer can issue a reasonable and lawful direction for staff to be vaccinated.”
The guide was developed for the ATA and other associations by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.