Enforceable interstate freight movement code introduced

National Cabinet escalates existing border control protocol

Enforceable interstate freight movement code introduced
Michael McCormack


A new Freight Movement Code has been created to enforce consistent border crossing measures for industry.

On July 24, 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", according to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

Now, the National Cabinet has agreed to the Freight Movement Code for the Domestic Border Controls—Freight Movement Protocol.

The enforceable measures are said to "ensure a consistent set of health measures apply across borders for freight operators, especially for routine Covid-19 testing, self-isolation requirements while working and reporting requirements to facilitate contact tracing".

State and territory governments remain responsible for implementing and enforcing the code.

See the original freight border protocol, here

"Streamlining the process for crossing borders will make life easier for our freight operators," federal transport Michael McCormack says. 

"We have always known Australia relies on our freight operators, but if this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s just how far that reliance extends.

"The work our freight operators do keeps our shelves stocked and our local economies running.

"Today, we have acted again to ensure those operators can do their work safely and efficiently, strengthening the Australian economy."

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz adds: "These are unchartered times and our freight industry is playing a critical role, it underpins jobs, strengthens the national interest and secures our future prosperity.

"Aligning state and territory measures through this Code will help reduce delays in the supply chain, ensuring our freight operators can keep moving safely and efficiently."

The enforceable code has the backing of the ATA.

"Today, governments have agreed on a more consistent testing system and easier access to testing sites," ATA chair David Smith says.

"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.

"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, and people with symptoms will be separated from people who do not have symptoms and just need a test to meet the border crossing requirements, Smith notes.

"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," he adds.

"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 CovidSafe 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 COovidSafe 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."

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.

It is available here.

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