ALRTA in pushback on mandatory vaccination

Fragmented state responses continue to alarm industry bodies

ALRTA in pushback on mandatory vaccination
The trucking industry is pushing for rapid antigen testing

With South Australia insisting on proof of vaccination for freight essential travellers, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) is pledging to keep the pressure up for as much uniformity and understanding between and from the states and territories as possible.

"While ALRTA has so far been successful in preventing the adoption of mandatory vaccination requirements in the national freight protocols, states are unfortunately going it alone with Victoria and Western Australia announcing mandatory jab requirements," it said.

According to the latest SA government advice, from today, "commercial transport and freight workers arriving by road or rail must have evidence of at least one TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] approved Covid-19 vaccination" if arriving from New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and parts of Queensland.

"Interestingly, SA has also introduced a new provision requiring persons entering from NSW, ACT, VIC and parts of QLD to provide evidence of a negative PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test in the prior 72hrs or they will be directed to undertake a point-of-care antigen test/or a COVID-19 test within 12hrs," ALRTA noted. 

"While the mandatory vaccine requirement is disappointing, the move towards rapid antigen testing is a welcome development."

A 72-hour testing rule is also in effect in other states and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has an information page on border restrictions and other relevant news and changes nationally, here.

The trucking industry has been particularly vocal in calling for rapid antigen testing for truck drivers at a time when it is being pointed out that the nation is far behind this sort of testing compared with other comparable countries and when truck drivers are reportedly being forced at borers and to turn around and get retested.

Read about the united industry call on testing sites, here

The national body has made a joint approach with Livestock and Rural Transporter Association of Queensland (LRTAQ) to the Queensland government seeking a realistic approach from that state.

"ALRTA and LRTAQ participated in discussions this week with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads concerning proposed changes to state freight protocols," ALRTA said on Friday.

"We are expecting an announcement introducing mandatory vaccination in QLD imminently – however, we are hopeful that there will be a more reasonable notice period before the requirement comes into effect (2 weeks’ notice in VIC and SA was totally inadequate).

"It is likely that the new QLD protocols will at the same time rebalance requirements relating to border passes, testing periods, masks and isolation while working.

"ALRTA has argued that QLD (and other jurisdictions) should establish two separate sets of protocols – one set for double vaxed freight workers (with relaxed protocols) and one set for unvaxed freight workers (with more stringent protocols where necessary).

"Simply denying unvaxed drivers any opportunity to undertake interstate work is discriminatory and disrespectful of those who carried Australia through drought, fires, floods and the first pandemic wave."


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