States rolling out roadhouse amenities access changes


SA Police pledge to push past confusion on truck drivers now regulation is amended

States rolling out roadhouse amenities access changes
Roadhouse coronavirus rules are now changing

 

Eastern states are gradually allowing a relaxation in emergency measures to  allow long-haul truck drivers to use crucial roadhouse amenities without the threat of police action.

This was in response to a March 24 National Cabinet coronavirus action agreement to start the next day related to  restrictions on restaurants and cafes, with exceptions provided for takeaway services and home delivery.

"This captured roadhouse and rest stop facilities that provide meal and hygiene facilities for the trucking industry," the federal government says.

"For road freight to move safely, truck driver health and fatigue needs to be managed with regular and good quality breaks.

"On the 30 March 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to exempt these facilities from the non-essential services restrictions and allow these facilities to continue supplying their services to heavy vehicle drivers."

What is seen by stakeholders as a tardy response to a National Cabinet agreement weeks ago is still unfolding and was the catalyst for a joint Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA)/ Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) letter to state premiers urging action.

As ACAPMA explained it to its members last week: "Unfortunately, a delay in ratification of this agreement by State and Territory Governments has meant that the fuel industry, the transport industry and the State Police forces were all confused about the implementation of this decision. 

"As a result, Truckies have been dragged out of their seats by police officers and Roadhouse operators have been threatened with thousands of dollars in fines. 

"ACAPMA has been working actively and co-operatively to attempt to address this confusion on a case by case basis, and received the full and immediate support of the Transport Minister (and the Deputy Prime Minister) the Hon Michael McCormack MP and his office.

"Despite these efforts, many States Governments continue to drag their feet and put the lives of Truckies at risk, at a time where they are facing heavier workloads than ever. Enough is enough. 

"ACAPMA has taken the unprecedented step of partnering with the Transport Workers Union to issue public and immediate calls for the States to stop dragging their feet and take the necessary action to effect the agreements made."

This view of the underlying cause of delays in opening roadhouses to truck drivers and shielding them from enforcement appears to be supported by police in South Australia, whose officers the letter accused of "unsavoury" conduct when clearing one roadhouse in that state.

That force argues that, as a state body, it has to operate under state laws in force at the time.   

"Under current South Australian Emergency Management Act directions, roadhouses are classified as restaurants/cafes, and are able to provide takeaway meals only," SA Police media manager chief inspector Col Cunningham tells ATN.

"South Australia Police is mindful of the confusion caused by National media announcements that are in conflict with South Australia Emergency Management Act directions. 

"South Australia Police has been policing in line with the current State directions, but is reviewing directions and working with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Industry to support the freight network, enhance positive road safety outcomes and reduce the spread of Covid-19."

The wall of red tape between the National Cabinet and reality on the ground was apparently also on display in Queensland, where roadhouses were reportedly waiting on changes from the state’s chief medical officer before allowing truck-driver access to amenities.


 

Read the APACMA/TWU letter to state premiers on the issue, here 


In New South Wales, as of Saturday, health and medical research minister Brad Hazzard’s explanatory note was published in the state’s Government Gazette.

It states: "The object of this Order is to amend the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020—

 (a) to enable truck drivers and their passengers to use facilities at truck stops, and

 (b) to exclude persons involved in conducting a funeral from the 10-person limit for funeral services, and

(c) to enable services at places of worship to be streamed or otherwise recorded, and

(d) to enable caravan parks and camping grounds to be used by overnight travellers, persons working in the local area and persons whose primary places of residence are temporarily unavailable, and

(e) to enable an auction for food supply or a fibre or crop auction to be conducted (whether indoors or outdoors).

 "These provisions are subject to the general restrictions set out in Part 5 of the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 concerning maximum numbers of persons at premises and social distancing unless it is an essential gathering . . ."

It came into force on April 4.

 

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