On the 29th of July, 2020, the Australian Trucking Association produced a release detailing the failure of the Australian government to address the COVID-19 outbreak effectively.
According to the Australian Trucking Association, the government has failed to produce a coherent and cohesive plan to address the pandemic. This is even more so in the trucking industry. Unfortunately, this failure can spell doom for the continuous operation and functioning of the trucking industry.
According to Ben Maguire, the CEO of the Australian Trucking Association, there have been various testing requirements on truck drivers around Australia. Even more, the various issues raised by the truck industry has received little or no attention. In contrast, the government have failed to release accessible and convenient testing facilities for the industry.
As such, Ben Maguire has called upon the government, including at the state level to take action immediately or risk creating a total shutdown of the operation of interstate road shipment.
Further detailing the condition of the inadequate response of the government, Ben Maguire stated that:
“What we know today is that Queensland is encouraging drivers to be tested, South Australia and Western Australia require it for some drivers, and that it’s completely unclear what NSW is doing.”
This was in response to the release of the NSW Government that freight workers moving from Victoria to other parts of Australia needed to have a test on COVID-19 every seven days
Also, the New South Wales Government in its announcement first states that it’s stating new requirements. Then, in its fourth paragraph, it goes on to state that it’s merely a recommendation. Then, in the end, it makes a complete U-turn and states that it’s the new requirement.
Responding, Ben Maguire stated that:
“Is it a recommendation or a requirement? It’s completely unclear, and we need clarity most of all in these uncertain times.”
According to him, the period is one of immense unease, and the government needed to provide some clarity. For instance, there was no response to the request for clarification on the need to self-isolate, a situation that can have an immense effect on the industry.
Clarifying his position, he stated that:
“People tested for COVID-19 are generally required to self-isolate until the results come in. That’s appropriate if you are having a test because you have symptoms or are a close contact of a known case. It is not appropriate if you have the test as a mandatory weekly screen,”
“Requiring truck drivers to self-isolate until they have results would mean they would have to spend up to five days a week waiting around for a text message.
Also, although the National Cabinet succumbed to an interstate protocol, the situation is not made any better. In fact, it has been made worse. According to Ben Maguire,
“the states are each implementing the protocol differently and ignoring the sections intended to reduce red tape…State governments need to stop, think, talk to the industry and put in place proper testing facilities before they go any further.”
As such, it becomes necessary for direct and effective action to prevent the collapse of the trucking industry.