The Australian Trucking Association has welcomed today’s National Cabinet agreement on a more consistent and enforceable code for screening interstate truck drivers and other freight workers for COVID-19.
On 24 July, National Cabinet agreed on a protocol for screening interstate freight workers, but state governments imposed unachievable testing requirements and failed to provide the necessary testing facilities.
“Today, governments have agreed on a more consistent testing system and easier access to testing sites. They have implemented key parts of the screening plan developed by ATA member association CEOs. I thank governments for listening and for working together so co-operatively to develop this code,” ATA Chair David Smith said.
“Governments have agreed that interstate freight workers will be screened at pop-up testing sites on major interstate freight routes. The facilities will operate for extended hours that meet industry needs, with the capacity for 24 hour operation where practicable.
“The agreement recognises that the existing testing facilities are not good enough. For example, the ATA Council heard on Wednesday about the extended testing times now offered to truck drivers by the Ceduna Hospital in South Australia. The hospital triumphantly told the industry that testing would be available for drivers – from 1.30pm to 2.30pm each day.
“Under the agreed code, testing will be free of charge. People with symptoms will be separated from people who do not have symptoms and just need a test to meet the border crossing requirements.
“Freight workers will not have to go into quarantine or self-isolation while they are waiting for the results of a screening test, unless they have symptoms or are a close contact of a known case. Testing sites will provide workers with evidence they were tested; the evidence will be recognised nationally.
“The ATA argued that governments should agree on random testing and a single, nationally agreed COVID Safe plan for the trucking industry, to be developed in consultation with industry.
“We were able to secure our next best option, an agreement that the states and territories will mutually recognise each other’s COVID Safe plans. Operators will just need to develop one plan on their home state’s template, not a separate one with the same information for each state.”
Mr Smith said that Australia’s trucking industry associations had worked flat out to advocate for more consistent testing requirements.
“If you’re not in an ATA member association, you should join one today,” he said.
The code will come into force in no sooner than five days, after National Cabinet agreed to provide industry with advance notice of the code.