Inconsistency in the application of border controls for freight movements are creating delays and confusion for rail freight operators.
After the national cabinet endorsed a national protocol for freight movement over closed borders on July 24, which recommended that government agencies should consult with industry in relation to border controls, changes have occurred without consultation, said Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO Kirk Coningham.
“The lack of consultation directly contravenes the national protocol that all state and territories agreed to.”
Coningham said that a lack of consistency was creating confusion.
“It is especially concerning that some jurisdictions have now mandated negative COVID-19 test results for drivers coming from Victoria, yet Victorian authorities are explicitly discouraging anyone who is asymptomatic from obtaining a COVID-19 test,” he said.
“This leaves freight vehicle drivers travelling interstate from Victoria in an impossible position of being unable to comply with the requirements of one government because of the instructions given by another.”
Currently, South Australia is requiring those providing commercial transport and freight services who travel from Victoria to have a COVID-19 test within the last seven days of crossing the border.
Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie said that consistency was vital to enable the efficient operation of supply chains.
“Delays at the border or differing approaches across the country frustrate those efforts at a time when we rely on our rail freight network more than ever.”
The national protocol sets out that COVID-19 tests should be made available to rail crew, and that routine testing should be required for those planning on entering or leaving hot spots. States and territories should also provide pop-up testing facilities that do not add undue time to the journey.
Wilkie said that delays at the border can have a significant impact on freight operations.
“It is essential state and territory border restrictions account for the vitally important role of the rail freight sector and make sure operators have consistent protocols to follow as they travel across the country.”