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COVID-19 BORDER UPDATE
ALRTA has participated in several meetings this week with government officials managing border crossing rules for heavy vehicles.
We have confirmed that new rules introduced in Queensland this week requiring essential workers to have had at least one vaccination shot DO NOT APPLY to freight workers operating under the National Freight Movement Protocol.
However, it is now apparent that some state Chief Health Officers are already applying new vaccination rules in their own jurisdictions and will recommend that vaccination requirements are included in the National Freight Movement Protocol. Some states are already collecting data on vaccination rates as part of the border pass application process. ALRTA has suppled information to the Federal Government concerning the low level of vaccination rates and difficulty in obtaining vaccinations in rural and regional areas.
We applaud moves by some States such as Queensland to prioritise freight workers at all sites and provide dedicated pop-up facilities for freight workers. We hope more states follow this example.
In anticipation of a possible inclusion of vaccination conditions in the National Freight Movement Protocol, we recommend that essential freight workers consider obtaining at least one vaccination shot as soon as possible. While vaccinations are unlikely to become mandatory, there is a very strong possibility that rules will vary for vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
Please see the separate article below for clear advice on vaccinations and your workplace.
We are acutely aware of delays in obtaining test results and impacts on the freight task. Our primary concern relates to the interaction of 7 day and 3 day testing cycles. In some cases, the problem is substantive, but in the majority of cases incorrect information is being provided at border crossings (usually by police).
The root of the problem stems from delays in receiving test results at locations in NSW. In cases where the driver is simultaneously subject to:
- A requirement to prove a negative test result in the past 7 days; and
- A requirement to have evidence that a test has been undertaken in the past 3 days;
a driver is non-compliant with the 7 day requirement until a test result is received, but remains compliant with the 3 day requirement for the first 3 days after the test is undertaken. If the test result is received on day 4 or later (as is frequently the case with current testing times out of NSW facilities), the reverse becomes true.
When test results are taking 4-5 days to be returned, this causes major difficulties, especially for carriers of livestock or perishable goods that cannot be kept on board trucks for extended periods while driver re-testing is undertaken.
While we acknowledge that this should only be a problem for drivers who have left their vehicle in the affected LGAs of Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown, there is potential for the interaction between the 7 day and 3 day requirements to become a very significant problem as more areas LGAs are declared affected areas and testing capacity becomes even more strained.
Right now, the main issue relates to the provision of incorrect advice by authorities that either the 7 day and 3 day requirement applies in LGAs in which it does not, or that a negative result must be received within 3 days (rather than a requirement for a test to have been undertaken in the past 3 days). Some examples are as follows:
- Driver tested at the Dubbo drive-through facility on Sunday 15 August at 3pm. Commenced journey towards Bourke on-route to Goondiwindi border check point (carrying fodder) on Tuesday 17 August. The driver had not yet received his result and was informed by authorised officers at Barringun (where he was parked on the side of the road), that by the time the driver received the test it would be invalid; therefore the driver should turn around to Bourke to undertake a new test.
- On 19 August, police at Tweed Heads crossing advising multiple drivers that a negative result on a 3 day cycle is required and entry to QLD was refused.
- Driver turned away at Boggabilla on 10 August. He had received a negative test on 5 August. Undertook another test on 8 August and was awaiting results. Police refused entry. Driver waited until change of border shift, represented and was allowed entry.
When the technical rules and the examples of incorrect interpretation above are taken together, it is apparent how confusing (both for drivers and authorities on the border) and unworkable the simultaneous 7 day / 3 day testing regime is in practice. With the prospect of an increasing number of affected LGAs in NSW and increasing capacity stress on NSW laboratories, we believe that now is the time to reconsider the application of these rules. For these reasons, ALRTA has recommended to governments that:
- Greater effort to educate and train border authorities;
- Priority being given to evidence of a negative test in the past 7 days;
- Any requirement for evidence of frequent testing should be mindful of and reflect current capacity constraints (currently around 5 days); and
- Providing a measure of flexibility for livestock and perishable goods (under risk-based protocols if necessary) to ensure that loads can be delivered in circumstances where drivers have COVID safe plans and have otherwise complied with all testing requirements (but are non-compliant merely due to delays in receiving results).
For the latest summary of border rules and testing sites click here.
VACCINATIONS & YOUR WORKPLACE
Businesses play a vital role in helping to support staff in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. To assist our members, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has developed a guide to help you and your business navigate the vaccine rollout in the ever-changing landscape. Our association has access to the guide because of our membership of the Australian Trucking Association.
The guide aims to help you understand how to communicate about the vaccine, what your obligations are when it comes to vaccinations for your staff and answers some common questions you may have around the vaccine and its impact on workers and the workplace.
So, what can you do right now?
- Communicate, encourage and support
Provide your employees with access to reliable and accurate information about the vaccine and where employees can get vaccinated.
- Assist your employees to get vaccinated
Try to be flexible when your employees need to get vaccinated. This could mean granting employees time off or moving shifts around to allow your team to make their vaccination appointment.
- Have a sensible conversation with your team
All employers are encouraged to have a sensible conversation with their team about how the workplace will be approaching vaccines and ensuring all staff are kept safe. The guide includes extensive information about when an employer can issue a reasonable and lawful direction for staff to be vaccinated.
- Maintain accurate and up-to-date records
Legally, employers can ask staff about their vaccination status. Unless getting vaccinated is mandatory, it is up to each individual employee if they choose to share this information or not. If an employee chooses to disclose their vaccination status, all employers should know and understand their privacy obligations in relation to the collection, use and disclose of this sensitive health information.
- Continue to maintain preventative measures
Employers are legally required to ensure the health and safety of their workers and should continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
ALRTA JOINS LABOUR SHORTAGE ROUNDTABLE
The ALRTA Executive Director, Mat Munro, participated in industry-government roundtable to discuss labour shortages and possible solutions for managing what is expected to be close to a record grain harvest. The roundtable followed a meeting of grain supply chain participants earlier in the week, during which labour and skills shortages was noted as the primary concern affecting the upcoming harvest.
Participants discussed travel exemptions for critical workers, labour agreements, quarantine, the pacific labour scheme, seasonal workers scheme, AgMove, skills priority lists and the agricultural workers code. Critically, representatives from the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Education, Skills and Employment, and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment were on hand to advise of current avenues for obtaining skilled workers and new initiatives in the pipeline.
ALRTA National Council has identified skills shortages in regional Australia as a top priority issue and will discuss problems and possible solutions at next week’s National Council meeting.
NEW RESEARCH: YOUNG CAR DRIVERS DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT TRUCKS
A new research paper shows that young car drivers do not know enough about the performance limitations of trucks to be safe on the road.
The paper is the first output of the research partnership between the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the University of Newcastle School of Psychological Sciences, Australia.
Head of School Professor Kristen Pammer said the review suggest that increased collision risk between trucks and young drivers is likely due to young drivers having underdeveloped awareness and hazard perception skills, as well as a substantial knowledge gap of the performance limitations of trucks.
“This increased collision risk is also likely exacerbated by young drivers engaging in risky driving behaviours around trucks that increases driver distraction,” Professor Pammer said.
“We intend to better understand and minimising these risks by researching how young drivers currently behave around trucks, how education initiatives can increase young driver awareness of truck performance limitations, and whether these initiatives can effectively change young driver behaviours to minimise collision risk around trucks,” she said.
Acting ATA CEO Bill McKinley said the paper was an important step forward in developing effective road safety communication and behavioural change projects.
“The paper confirms our understanding that young people are overrepresented in road crashes and identifies the risk factors that are likely to increase collision risks between young drivers and trucks,” Mr McKinley said.
“The paper reveals many drivers are growing numb to traditional fear appeals, with messages that elicit a positive effect like pride and humour proving more effective. It also tells us that research-based, targeted driver education, such as SafeT360, is key to reducing collision risk.
“This work is the first milestone in our long term, a visionary campaign of funding research to understand how to educate light vehicle drivers and develop their understanding of how to be safe around trucks,” he said.
The review recommends that educational initiatives aimed at increasing young driver awareness of trucks and truck safety be evidence-based, undergo rigorous evaluation and be delivered in a way that increases young driver perception skills while reducing their risky behaviour around trucks.
“Our SafeT360 program was built on this approach and was designed to support research that governments and industry can draw on in developing future campaigns,” Mr McKinley said.
Launched in 2019, SafeT360 is an immersive educational initiative that teaches young road users how to share the road safely with trucks through virtual reality technology and interactive messaging.
The paper was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Read the paper
2021 TRUCKING AUSTRALIA CANCELLED
The Australian Trucking Association is has announced that its next Trucking Australia conference will be held in May 2022. Trucking Australia 2021, which was scheduled to be held on the Gold Coast from 29 September to 1 October, has been cancelled.
“With business activity and movement across Australia restricted by COVID lockdowns and border controls, we had no choice but to cancel our 2021 event,” Acting ATA CEO Bill McKinley said.
Mr McKinley said Trucking Australia 2022 would be held on the Gold Coast from 4 to 6 May 2022.
“While we were looking forward to connecting with our delegates on the Gold Coast this year, we now need to look beyond 2021 to 2022,” he said.
“The ATA’s main priorities for 2021 must now be to continue our work with the Australian Government on COVID and to support the long-term future of our industry. We’re working on major projects on issues like the HVNL review, heavy vehicle charging, our workforce challenges and encouraging the rollout of electric trucks.
“In the meantime, our member associations are doing a fantastic job advocating to state and territory governments and keeping their members informed about the latest COVID restrictions.
“If you’re not in one of our member associations, you should join now,” he said.
Mr McKinley thanked the ATA’s event sponsors and stakeholders for their understanding.
“It is a challenging time for everyone, but we are extremely grateful for the ongoing support of our sponsors and stakeholders. Without them, industry events like Trucking Australia would not be possible at all,” he said.
Mr McKinley said the ATA had also decided to cancel the 2021 National Trucking Industry Awards.
“Our award finalists and nominees deserve the greatest recognition possible, which is why we want to recognise them when we can all meet again in 2022,” he said.
“Nominations that have already been made for the 2021 awards will be automatically included in the 2022 awards program,” he said.
VIRTUAL EVENTS IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD
ALRTA staff participated in an online training session on how to run successful virtual or hybrid events such as an annual conference. ALRTA was forced to cancel last year’s annual conference and several of our state members have had to cancel state conferences. With the delta strain of COVID-19 spiraling out of control, we are preparing for the possibility of future events being held online, or for face-to-face events to be available via online streaming for participants unable to attend due to state or local lockdowns.
ALRTA NATIONAL COUNCIL & AGM
Members are reminded that the ALRTA Annual General Meeting will occur via Zoom at 10am, Friday, 27 August 2021. For more details, please contact the ALRTA Secretariat via: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALRTA National Council will also meet via Zoom from 11am on 27 August 2021. If there are issues you would like to have discussed, please contact the Executive of your State Member Association.
UNSEALED ROAD TRAVEL SURVEY
On behalf of the National Transport Commission (NTC), ALRTA is conducting a member survey of travel by double road trains, triple road trains (including larger combinations) and b-triples on unsealed roads across each state and territory in Australia.
The information will be used to inform cost-allocation modelling within the PAYGO heavy vehicle charging model. The last such survey was undertaken 16 years ago – we need to know if the proportion of travel undertaken on sealed vs unsealed roads has changed.
We encourage members who operate road trains and b-triples to click on the link below to provide anonymous information. Please skip any combinations or states and territories not relevant to your business.
Take the survey here.
This survey will close on 31 August 2021.
An old farmer wrote a letter to his son in prison.
“This year I’m unable to plant potatoes because I can’t dig the ground by myself. I know if you were here you would help me.”
His son wrote back, “Dad, don’t even think of digging the ground because that is where I buried the money I stole.”
The Police read the letter, and the very next day the ground was dug by the police looking for the money but nothing was found.
The following day the son wrote again………. “Now plant your potatoes dad, its the best I could do from here.”
SAVE THE DATES FOR 2021 & 2022
LRTAV Conference – Bendigo VIC – 20-21 August 2021 – Cancelled
LTAT/National Combined Conference – Hobart TAS – 22-23 October 2021
LBRCA Conference – Wagga Wagga NSW – 10-12 February 2022
LRTAQ Conference – Surfair Marcoola QLD – 4-5 March 2022
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