NSW tones down border freight restrictions

By: Greg Bush


Welcome decision for freight workers crossing the NSW-Victoria border

NSW tones down border freight restrictions
Truck drivers heading north from Victoria to NSW will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

Transport industry associations have welcomed changes to the temporary New South Wales-Victoria border closure, allowing truck driver access without needing to self-isolate.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard had advised on July 7 that truck drivers would need to apply through an online form to cross the border, and then reapply every two weeks. Drivers crossing into NSW from Victoria were also required to self-isolate for 14 days, which Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire says was impractical.

Maguire says Minister Hazzard had ignored the proven success of Queensland’s border controls and decided to invent a NSW-specific system without input from trucking businesses and their staff.

"Trucks need to have clear passage across the border without the need for permits," Maguire says.

"If permits are necessary, they should be issued for six weeks, not two."

However, after lobbying from transport industry associations and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Transport for NSW says it reviewed the criteria for critical service permits and created an additional permit to better support workers in the freight and transport sector and to clarify terms and conditions.

"This permit will allow people within the freight and transport industry to be able to travel between NSW and Victoria for the purpose of their duties, providing their employer has a COVID-19 Safety Plan and will not require them to self-isolate," Transport for NSW says.

The new permit came into effect on July 9.

"Consistent with the need to prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan, Transport for NSW is asking freight operators to be conscious of the significantly increased health risk in Victoria, to please take extra care and ensure that you are vigilant in practising physical distancing, minimising contact and maintaining good hygiene practices to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"Any employees displaying symptoms of COVID-19 should not be required to come to work," Transport for NSW adds.

John Berger, TWU branch secretary Victoria and Tasmania, says the union will be keeping a close eye on the situation at the Victorian and NSW border to ensure a clear passage of freight between the two states.

"We know that transport workers are essential workers and often what they are carrying are essential goods," Berger says.

"All levels of Government must ensure truck drivers can continue to do their jobs without any bureaucratic red tape."

Operators can apply for COVID-19 NSW border entry permits on the Service NSW website.

Further information is available at www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe-businesses.

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