PROUD NATIONAL SPONSOR ALRTA
COVID-19: IMPACTS AND RESPONSE
COVID-19 is a truly global problem impacting public health, business continuity and supply chains. Major economies are in progressive lock-down and Australia is no exception. While many businesses have closed, others are experiencing unprecedented panic driven demand.
We are running out of basic supplies like toilet paper, sanitizer, masks, tissues and minced meat.
It is times like this when governments and communities recognise the critical importance of road transport and logistics. Our drivers, transport businesses and support staff are the unsung heroes of this crisis making it possible for society to continue to function under lockdown.
The situation is extremely fast-moving. The virus is spreading exponentially, and governments are reacting accordingly. Please rest assured that the ALRTA, our State Associations, and the ATA, and state member associations, are continually liaising with governments and industry to ensure that road freight is minimally affected by emergency business restrictions and border control measures imposed this week.
For up to the minute information please visit:
ATA Coronavirus webpage
NHVR Coronavirus webpage
Australian Government Coronavirus webpage
A summary of important COVID-19 information is provided to members below.
ALRTA applauds the efforts of the Australian Government and NHVR to coordinate and promote a consistent national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is leading a National Cabinet of Federal and State politicians and officials, while Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is convening regular meetings of the Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council.
The NHVR is working on a range of operational issues to maintain efficient freight flow.
A National COVID-19 Coordination Commission has also been established.
Importantly, all levels of government have recognised transport and logistics as an essential service, and we are seeing this position reflected in announcements and policy positions.
Watch the Deputy Prime Minister underscore the importance of transport and logistics.
The Australian Government Department of Health has information about the epidemic and health instructions, including health advice for employers.
Western Australia, South Australian, Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania have border restrictions in place. There are currently no restrictions in place for travel between Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
All freight and heavy vehicle movements are exempt (including empty trucks). Some states have however imposed conditions of entry and/or exit on drivers and other staff.
ATA member associations have provided the following information about the border requirements:
- South Australia
- Western Australia fact sheet | legal instrument | PDF arrival form
- Tasmania | online arrival form | PDF arrival form
- Northern Territory | PDF arrival form
Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory require truck drivers to fill in entry passes or arrival forms before crossing the border. No paperwork is required in Queensland or South Australia, however your details may be recorded.
Western Australia has also declared biosecurity zones within the state. Drivers entering designated areas will need to fill out a Biosecurity Travel Form which will be provided at checkpoints. More information has been provided by the Western Roads Federation.
Please be aware that normal compliance and enforcement activities are still occurring.
Many ALRTA members are experiencing unprecedented demand for services but are thankfully reporting that freight is crossing borders with minimal disruption. We ask all members to be patient and civil at all times – to do otherwise will risk more draconian border measures.
For weeks our associations have been pushing to ensure that all freight and ancillary services is considered essential and exempt from business closures or border restrictions. This message has been universally accepted by Federal, State and Territory Governments.
PILOTS, PASSENGERS AND TWO-UP
Some states have advised drivers not to carry passengers who aren’t involved in the freight task.
Heavy vehicle movements are currently exempt from restrictions if you are involved in the transport or freight of goods and logistics for goods (pilot), into, within and out of the state/territory.
Two-up driving teams are included in the NT, QLD, SA, TAS & WA border restriction exemptions if they fit in the following exemption category and if it’s a pre-existing standard.
All states require any person involved in the transport or freight of goods and logistics for goods, into, within and out of states/ territories to practise social distancing wherever possible.
The National Cabinet has required non-essential businesses to close. Under the stage 2 shut downs announced on Monday 23 March 2020, this applies to the following:
- Pubs, registered clubs
- Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses, wellness centres, social sporting-based activities, swimming pools, boot camps, personal training operating outside and inside (groups of no more than 10 where social distancing is exercised are exempt)
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, night clubs, strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues, concert venues, theatre, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums, amusement parks and arcades, indoor and outdoor play centres
- Restaurants, cafes and shopping centre food courts are restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- Community and recreation centres
- Auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections
- Hairdressers and barbershops
- Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas and massage parlours
- Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres, youth centres, non-essential local government facilities and services, community facilities such as community halls, clubs, RSLs and PCYCs
- Religious gatherings and places of worship (excluding weddings with no more than five people and funerals with no more than 10 people. The one person per 4m2 rule applies to both exclusions).
Further statement on hairdressers, barbers and funerals from National Cabinet on 26 March 2020
Freight and logistics are considered essential.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES
The Australian and state governments have announced support packages for business. The Australian Government assistance package includes:
- a cashflow boost of up to $100,000 with a minimum payment of $20,000 for businesses that employ staff. Businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible.
- an expanded JobSeeker Payment with a new coronavirus supplement. Eligible owner drivers will be able to receive this payment.
- a new Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme: a government guarantee for small and medium business loans. The loans will be interest free for the six months and will be for a maximum of $250,000 over three years. The Government will guarantee 50 per cent of each loan.
- an increase in the instant asset write-off threshold from $50,000 to $150,000, with access expanded to include businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million). The increased threshold is available till 30 June 2020.
- an additional 50 per cent investment allowance for eligible assets, including new trucks and trailers. The allowance will be available till 30 June 2021.
Get the details or call 13 28 46 for more information.
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE SUPPORT
The tax office is also ready to help businesses having difficulty meeting their tax and super obligations because of the pandemic.
View the FAQ page for answers to some common tax questions about the epidemic.
Get more information or call 1800 806 218
BANKS LEND A HAND
Major Australian banks have announced repayment deferrals for small businesses and homeowners affected by COVID-19.
Arrangements vary, but generally include:
- No repayments for up to six months;
- Interest continues to accumulate during this period;
- At the conclusion of the period, interest is capitalised onto the loan and the payment terms will be extended so that period requirements do not increase (you will continue to pay the same but over a longer period – including the interest accumulated during the deferral period).
Contact your lending institution for more details.
FOOD AND AMENITIES
ALRTA is aware that some drivers are experiencing problems with accessing food, showers and dining facilities. Most service stations have closed in-store seating areas and showers/toilets are subject to additional cleaning.
ALRTA National Sponsor, BP, is taking a proactive approach to this issue and has released a statement assuring that all their sites and facilities would remain open, with increased cleaning procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of drivers, employees and customers.
This matter is under active consideration at the highest level of government and we expect more announcements on this issue soon.
PROCEDURES AT PROCESSORS & SALEYARDS
Major meat processors are requiring persons entering sites to make a written declaration concerning possible exposure to COVID-19 risks. If exposure is declared, individuals will be banned from sites for 14 days.
While ALRTA is aware that several livestock sales have been cancelled this week, we welcome the statement by Federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, that saleyards will continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Saleyards will however be operating under new protocols that include:
- Limiting attendance at sales to essential saleyard site staff, accredited livestock agents and essential agency staff along with genuine buyers with a true intention to purchase.
- All other individuals, who are not essential to the sale process, should not attend the selling facility. Livestock transporters will still be able to access saleyard facilities for unloading and loading of livestock.
- The putting in place of on-ground systems and protocols to manage attendance in line with the above position.
Transport operators will continue to have access to saleyards for unloading and loading and ALRTA has been assured that access to amenities will continue. Operators should however contact individual saleyards for more information about any site-specific protocols that will apply.
WHERE DO I STAND WITH MY EMPLOYEES?
Section 524(1)(c) of the Fair Work Act 2009 provides that an employer may stand down an employee during a period in which the employee cannot usefully be employed because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.
Section 524(3) provides that an employer is not required to make payments to the employee for that period.
Please note that entitlements to leave accrual and public holidays may still apply during a stand down period and employees may instead request a period of annual leave.
ALRTA is a member of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) which advises that small businesses are receiving conflicting legal advice concerning provision of the Fair Work Act 2009. In some cases, it would seem that an employer, faced with need to stand down staff (or partially stand down staff) and unable to secure mutual agreement from their employees for same, is faced with the choice of making all staff redundant or running the risk of future employee claims for unpaid wages in the future.
COSBOA asserts that an immediate solution to this issue would be for the Fair Work Ombudsman to issue a clear statement of regulatory intent (or similar) that clearly states that the Regulator will not pursue actions against a business that has stood down staff (or partially stood down) staff owing to the market impact of COVID-19 – for a fixed period of 6 months.
Today the Prime Minister has announced an intention to allow businesses to go into ‘hibernation’. This may involve requirements for landlords, banks and councils to freeze rents, charges or taxes that would otherwise apply to prevent businesses accumulating serviceable debt while unable to operate. Some measures may also apply to residential tenancies.
ALRTA recommends that you seek legal advice specific to your business.
CURFEWS, ACCREDITATION & HEALTH CHECKS
State Governments have enacted legislation to remove curfews on supermarket deliveries. The NHVR has acted to remove amenity-related restrictions from permits for the next three months – operators will still need to comply with the safety and access conditions of permits.
The NHVR has also announced temporary changes to NHVAS medical requirements and face-to-face audit requirements.
These changes are:
- heavy vehicle drivers operating under Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) or Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) accreditations may continue to drive with an expired driver medical, until they can practicably obtain one.
- auditors can undertake all document and records validation and audits remotely, requesting electronic copies be emailed to them or by another suitable method and conducting conversations over the phone where applicable.
The changes will be reviewed after six months.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
COVID-19 is truly a global crisis. The USA is fast becoming the most affected by the virus outbreak, overtaking both China and Italy in total cases with exponential growth continuing.
We thought you might be interested to read about the experiences of truck drivers in the USA during the crisis.
DO PLAN NOW FOR THE CORONAVIRUS: HOW TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS GOING
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus.
The symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily. Others may get very sick very quickly.
For more information about the virus, visit the health department website.
2. GET YOUR BUSINESS READY NOW
Do a risk assessment: As always, start with a risk assessment. Identify the hazards that the coronavirus poses to your business, think about their likelihood and potential consequences and think about how you could treat the risk.
The master industry code of practice, developed by the ATA and the ALC, has advice on how to approach risk management and links to templates.
Cross train and certify your staff: Now is the time to cross train and certify your staff, to make sure you have more than one staff member who can carry out each business function.
Make sure more than one person can access your online services and alerts:
- Many businesses depend on online services, whether it’s your accounting system, the NHVR journey planner or your telematics.
- Make sure that more than one person can log in to these systems. For security, get them their own passwords rather than asking them to share a single login.
- If your systems send text alerts, make sure the alerts go to more than one person.
Develop a working from home policy:
- Truck drivers and forklift operators can’t work from home, but could your administration staff?
- Develop a working from home policy now and make sure that anyone who could work from home has access to a computer and your systems online.
- A good working from home policy could allow your admin staff can keep going, even if they are isolated because of their close contact with someone who is sick.
Reach out to the people who could help keep your business going: You may have former staff or family who could help if you’re short of staff. Contact them now, and make sure that any licences or certificates they need are up to date.
Talk to your customers and suppliers: Talk to your customers and your own suppliers about how they plan to keep going.
3. PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM
Check the health department advice and follow it: The health department has published excellent, clear advice about how you can protect yourself and your team. Read the advice and follow it
There is a 24/7 coronavirus information line. The number is 1800 020 080.
4. KEEP YOUR TEAM AND OTHER ROAD USERS SAFE
- Stand firm against pressure to breach fatigue or other road safety requirements, even if you are short of staff.
- In the eastern states and South Australia, phone the NHVR confidential reporting line – 1800 931 785 – if you have concerns.
ALRTA IS HERE TO HELP
ALRTA is monitoring the situation and in constant liaison with government and industry stakeholders. We are here to help members through the COVID-19 crisis and would appreciate hearing about any problems you are experiencing on the road.
Please contact ALRTA Executive Director, Mat Munro, on 0421 082 489 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALRTA STAFF AVAILABILITY AMIDST COVID19
From 24 March 2020 the ALRTA staff – Mathew, Sue, Colleen and Jack are working from home amidst COVID-19.
All staff travel, attendance at industry events and face-to-face meetings have been cancelled.
The ALRTA office phone had been disconnected by Telstra since Monday until today (Friday), so unfortunately the diversion to Mathew Munro’s (Executive Director) phone had not happened. We apologise to anyone who may have tried to contact us.
Please email email@example.com or call Colleen on the ALRTA mobile 0490 515 681 or Mathew (ED) on 0421 082 489.
UPDATE ON EVENTS FOR 2020
LRTAQ (QLD) on 19-21 March 2020 at Roma QLD. – POSTPONED
LTAT (TAS) on 2 May 2020 in Hobart TAS. – POSTPONED
LRTASA (SA)on 12-13 June 2020 at Adelaide Entertainment Centre SA. – CANCELLED
LRTAWA/ALRTA (WA & National) on 24-25 July 2020. Perth WA.- POSTPONED until further notice
LRTAV (VIC) on 14-15 August 2020 at All Seasons Resort Bendigo VIC – POSTPONED